According to Joe Adalian, editor for New York Magazine’s Vulture, on a percentage basis, ratings gains for NBC’s THE WIZ LIVE! are now on par with the network’s SOUND OF MUSIC LIVE, which aired in 2013. This year’s live production added approximately 20% and garnering a 2.9 A18-49 and over 11 million viewers. In addition, with three days of DVR replays, THE WIZ LIVE jumped to a 4.0 A18-49 (+0.6) and 13.4M (+2M) viewers.
According to NBC, the show was the #2 entertainment telecast of the week on the Big 4 in adults 18-49, adults 25-54, adults 18-34 and all key adult-female demos, behind only Fox’s “Empire” in each measure. Among prime telecasts on ABC, CBS, NBC and Fox, THE WIZ LIVE! tied for #1 for the week among kids 2-11 with CBS’s “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” (3.2 rating each).
NBC’s THE WIZ LIVE! aired Thursday, Dec. 3. The production starred newcomer Shanice Williams as Dorothy alongside Grammy and Golden Globe-winner Queen Latifah as the Wizard, nine-time Grammy-winner Mary J. Bligeas Evillene, original Dorothy, Stephanie Mills, as Auntie Em and David Alan Grier as the Cowardly Lion.
“The Wiz Live!” is adapted from “The Wonderful Wizard of Oz” by L. Frank Baum, with a book by William F. Brown, and music and lyrics by Charlie Smalls. The production opened on Broadway in 1975 at the Majestic Theatre, starring Mills. It won seven Tonys, including best musical. As previously announced, Mills is set to return to the show on NBC, this time in the role of ‘Auntie Em’.
Craig Zadan and Neil Meron (“The Sound of Music Live!,” “Peter Pan Live!”) serve as executive producers. Tony winner Kenny Leon will direct with Harvey Fiersteinproviding new written material. Fatima Robinson serves as choreographer. “The Wiz Live!” is produced by Universal Television in association with Cirque Du Soleil Theatrical.
“The Wiz” tells the classic story hundreds of millions of people have read in the L. Frank Baum books and then saw in the much-beloved 1939 film “The Wizard of Oz,” but retold in an African-American/multicultural context. Dorothy, a young woman from Kansas, is swept up in a tornado and relocated to a fantasy world that is inhabited by munchkins, good and bad witches, and, of course, flying monkeys. She eventually takes a path down a yellow brick road to find a wizard who can help her go home and along the way meets a scarecrow, tin man and cowardly lion, who all learn to help one another.