The Wiz Live!
|The Wiz Live!|
|Based on||The Wiz|
by William F. Brown
The Wonderful Wizard of Oz
by L. Frank Baum
|Written by||Harvey Fierstein|
|Directed by||Kenny Leon |
|Country of origin||United States|
|Executive producers||Craig Zadan |
|Running time||111 minutes|
|Production companies||Universal Television |
Sony Pictures Television
|Distributor||Universal Studios Home Entertainment|
|Picture format||1080i (HDTV)|
|Original release||December 3, 2015|
|Preceded by||Peter Pan Live!|
|Followed by||Hairspray Live!|
The Wiz Live! is a television special that aired live on NBC on December 3, 2015. Produced by Craig Zadan and Neil Meron, it is a performance of a new adaptation of the 1975 Broadway musical The Wiz, a soul/R&B reinterpretation of L. Frank Baum's 1900 novel The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. The broadcast is performed live from Grumman Studios in Bethpage, New York. This adaptation of the musical combines aspects of both the Broadway play and its 1978 film adaptation.
Cast and characters
- Shanice Williams as Dorothy Gale
- Common as The Bouncer / The Gatekeeper of the Entrance to the Emerald City
- Amber Riley as Addaperle, the Good Witch of the North
- Uzo Aduba as Glinda, the Good Witch of the South
- Stephanie Mills as Auntie Em / Emily Gale
- Elijah Kelley as the Scarecrow / Sticks the Farmhand Man #3
- Ne-Yo as the Tin-Man / John the Farmhand Man #1
- David Alan Grier as the Cowardly Lion / Robert the Farmhand Man #2
- Mary J. Blige as Evillene, the Wicked Witch of the West
- Queen Latifah as the Wiz
- Scooter the Dog as Toto
- Chris Borrero
- James Brown III
- Olutayo Bosede
- Elon Van Buckley
- Ta'rea Campbell
- Jessica Castro
- Kacie Garland
- Asmeret Ghebremichael
- Frankie Gordils
- Khadija Griffith
- Tre Holloway
- Carlos Irizarry
- Marcus Paul James
- Frederic Jean
- Capathia Jenkins
- Mykal Kilgore
- Tamika Lawrence
- India R. McGee
- Paul McGinnis
- Maurice Murphy
- Antonio Moore
- Danielle Polanco
- Malaiyka Reid
- Eric Sanchez
- Sherisse Springer
- Chris Silcox
- Ahmahd Thomas
- Raphael Thomas
- Alex Wade
- Donald Webber
- DaShaun Wesley
- Xavier Wilcher
- NaTasha Williams
Pit voices were provided by Broadway Inspirational Voices.
Source: Broadway World
- The list of musical numbers is taken from the actual broadcast and are in order as they appear in the broadcast and include the characters' names who perform the song.
All numbers composed by Charlie Smalls save for the following: "Tornado" is composed by Timothy Graphenreed and Harold Wheeler. "Emerald City Ballet (Psst)" is composed by Graphenreed and George Faison. "We Got It" is written by Ne-Yo, Elijah Kelley, Harvey Mason Jr, and Stephen Oremus. "Everybody Rejoice/A Brand New Day" is written by Luther Vandross.
The production, a co-production between Universal Television and Cirque du Soleil Theatrical – who provided special acrobatic performers for the "Tornado", "You Can't Win", and "Funky Monkeys" sequences – was a follow-up to NBC's live musical events, The Sound of Music Live! and Peter Pan Live!. Like the previous specials, The Wiz Live! was televised from Grumman Studios in Bethpage, New York. The role of Dorothy was cast via an open audition; on August 5, 2015, it was announced on Today that Shanice Williams of New Jersey would fill the role in The Wiz Live!. Williams had co-starred in local productions of You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown and West Side Story among others, and in 2014, was nominated for a Paper Mill Playhouse Rising Star Award for best leading actress.
The special was directed by Kenny Leon and adapted for television by Harvey Fierstein from the original musical's book by William F. Brown. Fatima Robinson was the program's choreographer, with Harvey Mason, Jr. and Stephen Oremus serving as the musical directors. Songs from the original Broadway production were featured, with two exceptions: "You Can't Win", a song cut from the musical and first used in its 1978 feature film adaptation as sung by Michael Jackson, was used in place of the Scarecrow's key number "I Was Born on the Day Before Yesterday", and "We Got It", a new song composed by Harvey Mason Jr., Stephen Oremus with stars Ne-Yo and Elijah Kelley, was performed as Dorothy, the Scarecrow, the Tin Man, and the Cowardly Lion began their journey to find and kill the Wicked Witch of the West.
The cost of a 30-second commercial during The Wiz ranged between $330,000 to $350,000, marking a drop from the $345,000 to $400,000 cost of ad time during Peter Pan Live!. The decrease in ad cost was attributed to the modest viewership of Peter Pan in comparison to The Sound of Music Live!, which an analyst felt was a result of the reduced novelty of the production in comparison to The Sound of Music. Reddi-wip served as a main sponsor of the presentation; Walmart, which served as a major sponsor of NBC's previous live musicals, declined to participate. NBC produced themed commercials to air throughout the special as part of the brand's "Share the Joy" campaign; one, which was timed to air after the corresponding scene in the musical, featured "A Brand New Day" being performed by students of the Excel Academy in Hyattsville, Maryland—a school which ConAgra Foods had donated money to in support of musical arts.
The Wiz Live! received positive reviews from critics, who praised the acting and singing abilities of the cast and for being an improvement over the two previous live NBC musicals. On Rotten Tomatoes, the show has a 91% rating, based on 33 reviews, with an average rating of 8.8/10. The site's consensus states: "The Wiz Live! is several notches above NBC's other musical broadcasts thanks to bold performances and large-scale production pieces." Metacritic reports a weighted average of 73 out of 100, based on 16 critics, indicating "generally favorable reviews."
The Wiz Live! was seen by 11.5 million viewers, with a 3.4 rating in the 18-49 demographic. Although higher than Peter Pan Live!, it trailed a Thursday Night Football game on CBS between the Detroit Lions and Green Bay Packers, which was seen by around 17 million. Average household viewership was notably higher in markets with a large African-American population, such as Atlanta, Baltimore, Norfolk, Richmond, and Washington, D.C. Nielsen also reported that the special produced the most social network interactions of any live television event in the past four years; there were three times as many Twitter postings related to The Wiz Live! than there were related to Peter Pan Live!. NBC rebroadcast the special on December 19, 2015. The rebroadcast was seen by 1.6 million viewers.
- Primetime Emmy Awards
- Outstanding Costumes for a Variety, Nonfiction Or Reality Program: Paul Tazewell: winner
- Outstanding Hairstyling For A Multi Camera Series Or Special: nominated
- Outstanding Lighting Design/Lighting Direction for a Variety Special: nominated
- Outstanding Makeup for a Multi Camera Series Or Special : nominated
- Outstanding Production Design for a Variety Nonfiction Event or Award Special: Derek McLane: nominated
- Outstanding Technical Direction: nominated
- NAACP Image Awards
- Outstanding Television Movie, Mini-Series or Dramatic Special: winner
- Outstanding Actor in a Television Movie, Mini-Series or Dramatic Special: David Alan Grier: winner
- Critics' Choice Television Awards
- Movie Made for Television or Limited Series: nominated
- Actress in a Movie Made for Television or Limited Series: Shanice Williams: nominated
- Supporting Actor in a Movie Made for Television or Limited Series: David Alan Grier: nominated
- Supporting Actor in a Movie Made for Television or Limited Series: Ne-Yo: nominated
- Supporting Actress in a Movie Made for Television or Limited Series: Mary J. Blige: nominated
- Black Reel Awards
- Outstanding TV Special or Documentary: winner (Kenny Leon, director)
- Outstanding Actress, TV Movie or Limited Series: Shanice Williams: nominated
- Outstanding Supporting Actor, TV Movie or Limited Series: David Alan Grier: nominated
- Outstanding Supporting Actor, TV Movie or Limited Series: Ne-Yo: nominated
- Outstanding Supporting Actress, TV Movie or Limited Series: Mary J. Blige: nominated
- Outstanding Supporting Actress, TV Movie or Limited Series: Amber Riley: nominated
Home media release
NBC released a DVD of the special on December 22, 2015, through Universal Studios Home Entertainment. The DVD includes a behind-the-scenes special, The Making of The Wiz Live! As part of Andrew Lloyd Webber's The Shows Must Go On, the full show was made available on YouTube for a limited time, to support the African-American community and other communities of color during the George Floyd protests.
- "The Wiz Live!". NBC. Retrieved October 22, 2015.
- Khan, Jessica (22 October 2015). "SCOOP: NBC's THE WIZ LIVE! Will Feature New Song by NE-YO, Plus Movie Tune for 'Scarecrow'". Broadway World. Retrieved 4 November 2015.
- Ne-Yo (actor) (November 25, 2015). "The Wiz LIVE!" Cast! (live television interview). Retrieved December 29, 2015.
This is a kind of blend of the Broadway musical and the movie, so it's like both of them combined.
- The Wiz Live!: Original ←York (Media notes).
- "Breaking News: Y'all Got It! Capathia Jenkins, Marcus Paul James and More Broadway Vets Join THE WIZ LIVE! - Full Cast Announced!". Broadway World. 28 October 2015. Retrieved 20 November 2015.
- Rorke, Robert (22 November 2015). "Ne-Yo: My 'Wiz Live!' Tin Man transformation is 'not comfortable at all'". New York Post. New York Post. Retrieved 23 November 2015.
- Andreeva, Nellie (11 May 2015). "Stephanie Mills Joins 'The Wiz Live!' On NBC". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved 4 November 2015.
- Byrd, Craig (15 July 2015). "Curtain Call: For The Record Finds New Life With a Cirque Du Soleil/Baz Luhrmann Mash-Up". Los Angeles Magazine. Retrieved 4 November 2015.
- Crook, John (26 November 2015). "'The Wiz Live!': NBC's latest live musical broadcast from Long Island". newsday.com. Newsday. Retrieved 26 November 2015.
- "NBC's 'The Wiz' Finds Its Dorothy". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 4 December 2015.
- Petski, Denise (1 June 2015). "Fatima Robinson, Harvey Mason Jr & Stephen Oremus Board 'The Wiz Live!'". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved 4 November 2015.
- "American Foundation for the Blind Celebrates 20th Anniversary of the Helen Keller Achievement Awards and Announces 2016 Honorees". American Foundation for the Blind. Retrieved 16 June 2016.
- "Reddi-Wip Adds Sweet Sounds as 'Wiz' Sponsor". Broadcasting & Cable. Retrieved 4 December 2015.
- "Wal-Mart's Peter Pan 'Warr' Room". The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved 4 December 2015.
- "Walmart Takes Big Role in 'Peter Pan Live!'". Broadcasting & Cable. Retrieved 4 December 2015.
- "Madison Avenue Pushes Back On Price For TV's Live 'Wiz,' 'Grease'". Variety. Retrieved 4 December 2015.
- "NBC Hopes The Wiz Live Will Be More Like Sound of Music and Less Like Peter Pan". Adweek. Retrieved 4 December 2015.
- "The Wiz Live! (2015)". Rotten Tomatoes. Fandango Media. Retrieved February 22, 2020.
- "The Wiz Live! Reviews". Metacritic. CBS Interactive. Retrieved March 7, 2018.
- "Thursday final ratings: 'The Wiz Live' holds, 'CMA Country Christmas' adjusts down plus final NFL numbers". TVbythenumbers. Tribune Media. Archived from the original on 6 December 2015. Retrieved 5 December 2015.
- "'The Wiz Live' Ratings Strong: NBC Musical Draws 11.5 Million Viewers". Variety. Retrieved 4 December 2015.
- "Ratings Hit The Wiz Live! Sets Rebroadcast Date". Playbill. Retrieved 6 December 2015.
- "TV Ratings Saturday: Democratic debate down but leads a soft night". Zap 2 It. Archived from the original on 22 December 2015. Retrieved 22 December 2015.
- Caryn Robbins (14 July 2016). "Audra McDonald, Bryan Cranston, GREASE LIVE Among Theater Stars Nominated for 68th Annual EMMY AWARDS". Broadway World.
- "Creed, Empire, Black-ish top NAACP Image Awards winners list". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved 6 February 2016.
- "Critics' Choice Award Nominations Led by 'Mad Max,' 'Fargo'". Variety. Retrieved 31 December 2015.
- "16th Annual Black Reel Award Nominations" blackreelawards.com
- Gina Carbone (December 22, 2015). "What's New on TV, Netflix, Digital, and DVD/Blu-ray This Week: December 21–27". Movie Fone. Whale Rock Industries. Retrieved December 21, 2015.
- BWW News Desk (December 22, 2015). "NBC's THE WIZ LIVE! Coming to DVD Later This Month!". Broadway World. Wisdom Digital Media. Retrieved December 4, 2015.
- "The WIZ Live! - Friday 12th June (Teaser) | The Shows Must Go On". YouTube.com. 5 June 2020. Retrieved 14 June 2020.
- "The WIZ Live! - FULL STAGE SHOW | The Shows Must Go On - Stay Home #WithMe". YouTube.com. 12 June 2020. Retrieved 14 June 2020.