UPDATED: At the upfronts in May, NBC’s Bob Greenblatt said the network was planning a Music Man production as its next live musical from The Sound of Music and Peter Pan executive producers Craig Zadan and Neil Meron. That project is still on track, but this morning at the TCA press tour Greenblatt said the network also has closed a rights deal for The Wizard Of Oz-themed The Wiz. I’ve learned that that live musical too will be shepherded by Zadan and Meron.
Despite the softer numbers for Peter Pan last month vs. the huge ratings for The Sound Of Music in 2013, NBC is not abandoning the franchise and is still set to do another musical next holiday season, Greenblatt said. Music Man and The Wiz will be the titles for 2015 and 2016, but The Wiz could go first, ahead of Music Man. After the session, Greenblatt called The Wiz “catchy and cool.”
As for the ratings decline for Peter Pan vs. Sound of Music, Greenblatt acknowledged that it may have done better on a different night, like Friday, but “we had such a good result on Thursday the last time. The ratings weren’t what The Sound of Music was, but I really didn’t expect that they would be, I know nobody believes me but that’s OK.”
Greenblatt attributed the blockbuster success of Sound of Music to “the star power of Carrie Underwood” (Peter Pan was headlined by Allison Williams), and noted a post-telecast increase in the 2-11 demo for Pan.
The Wiz falls into the trend of broadcast networks betting heavily on programming that appeals to black viewers, following the success of shows like How To Get Away With Murder and Empire. The Wizard Of Oz was the hottest theme during the 2013 pitch season, with almost a dozen different projects set up at various networks. NBC had drama Emerald City with a straight-to-series order but eventually opted not to go with it.