‘The Wiz’ might be NBC’s next live musical

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PASADENA, Calif. — Despite a drop in ratings for last month’s “Peter Pan Live,” NBC hasn’t given up on live musicals, and the network has its sights set on”The Wiz.”

“We literally closed the rights a few days ago,” said NBC Entertainment Chairman Bob Greenblatt, a former Broadway producer, at the TV critics’ press tour Friday.

NBC scored huge ratings — nearly 19 million viewers — when it aired “The Sound of Music Live” in December of 2013, featuring country music star Carrie Underwood.

Last month’s production of “Peter Pan,” starring lesser-known Allison Williams (“Girls”), drew roughly half as many eyeballs. Greenblatt chalked that up, at least in part, to the cast lacking a big name with a big following, like Underwood.

NBC announced last spring that “The Music Man” would be its next live musical for the 2015 holiday season, but Greenblatt said Friday that “The Wizard of Oz”-themed “The Wiz” could potentially be next at bat, bumping “Music Man” to 2016.

“It’s contemporary, it’s multicultural, it’s cool and we could make a lot of noise with it,” Greenblatt said.

“Creatively I don’t think it worked as a film,” Greenblatt added about the 1978 Universal movie starring Diana Ross and Michael Jackson. “We have a chance to do a version of it that’s truer to the stage show, which I do think is great and is filled with some great music.”

NBC divulged a few details Friday about other projects in the pipeline:

Dolly Parton to produce slate of movies based on her songs, life

Eva Longoria’s new comedy “Telenovela” gets a 13-episode order

NBC developing Underground Railroad miniseries with Stevie Wonder

Zachary Levi to headline “Heroes Reborn”

In other news, NBC’s cult hit “Hannibal” has been pushed to the summer and the network is testing the waters on another “Chicago Fire” spinoff.


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