Viewers weren’t the only ones who found last year’s NBC musical, Peter Pan Live!, to be nothing to crow about. With The Wiz Live! having proven to be an across-the-board success after airing Thursday, Dec. 3, on the network, the show’s producers are now admitting that their 2014 effort didn’t quite soar.
Craig Zadan and Neil Meron — who have produced NBC’s last three live musical productions, beginning with 2013’s The Sound of Music Live!, which starred Carrie Underwood— spoke to The Hollywood Reporter on Friday, Dec. 4, about The Wiz Live's solid ratings and positive critical response. The Wiz was seen by 11.5 million viewers, up from Peter Pan's 9.2 million.
They both made it clear that they haven’t yet decided which musical to do next year, but plan to spend more time choosing 2016’s show than they did when selecting Peter Pan, which starred Allison Williams and Christopher Walken, and was widely derided on social media and by critics.
“We're not so slaphappy to jump in and pick a title because that's what we did when we came off the success off Sound of Music and went into Peter Pan,” Zadan said. “What we didn't know about Peter Pan — and there was no way to know this — was that Peter Pan, as a piece, has overstayed its welcome.”
Zadan cited the disastrous box-office take of October’s Warner Bros. film Pan as proof that the public doesn’t exactly have a hankering at the moment for more takes on the boy who wouldn't grow up.
"As a result of that, we made a mistake in choosing it, and I don't think we should jump on something," Zadan said. "We should think it through and figure out what the next choice should be in the progression of, 'What do you follow The Wiz with so we can keep moving forward and not backward?'"
Meron said that they both were "well aware of the [negative] critical response" to Sound of Music and Peter Pan, and so seeing The Wiz earn positive reviews "is really gratifying and [a] deeply emotional feeling."
The Wiz Live! starred Queen Latifah, David Alan Grier, Common, and newcomer Shanice Williams.
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