NBC’s Next Live Musical Is Either ‘The Music Man’ or ‘The Wiz’
Despite the disappointing ratings performance for Peter Pan Live! (at least relative to 2013’s The Sound of Music Live!), NBC will continue to move forward with live musicals, as network president Robert Greenblatt has confirmed that they’ve narrowed the choices down to two popular picks.
Greenblatt announced that the next live musical production will either be 1957’s The Music Man or 1975’s Wizard of Oz reimagining, The Wiz. One will be produced in 2015, while the other will be produced in 2016. It’s simply a matter of figuring out which of the two gets produced first.
The rights to both musicals were optioned by NBC, although The Music Man rights were acquired first. In fact, it was considered the frontrunner to succeed Peter Pan when Greenblatt was questioned about it back at upfronts last May. The musical centers on the moral transformation of a con man who pretends to be a band organizer in order to hoodwink a small Iowa town out of its money. It’s better than it sounds, trust us.
Both musicals present interesting casting possibilities, since I could easily see someone like Neil Patrick Harris, Matt Bomer, Zachary Levi or Seth MacFarlane taking the lead in The Music Man, while The Wiz could follow in the footsteps of the 1978 film version — which featured Diana Ross and Michael Jackson — and cast two popular, chart-topping music stars in the lead. Or they could simply maintain tradition with Peter Pan Live! and just cast an actress who can sing. Keke Palmer would likely make a fine Dorothy, and I’m sure the production would be able to find room somewhere for Audra MacDonald (she already stared in The Sound of Music Live!) and Jennifer Hudson (who had a working relationship with NBC dating back to her multi-episode arc on Smash two years ago). Basically, either choice will provide NBC with plenty of options on how to transform this into a ratings stunt, since there are roles all over the place where big names can be plugged in, provided NBC feels like forking over the dough to get them. Either way, it should be interesting to see how this all turns out.
Which of these two musicals do you think NBC should pick? Sound off in the comments!