The winding yellow brick road to Emerald City has taken another turn. Eight months after NBC pulled the plug on its 10-episode straight-to-series Wizard of Oz drama, the project has come back to life. The network again has given a 10-episode series order to Emerald City, which has undergone a redevelopment with a new writer/executive producer, David Schulner.
The description of the project appears close to the original premise, with the possible addition of a police dog as a new Toto. Per NBC: In the blink of a tornado’s eye, 20-year-old Dorothy Gale and her K9 police dog are transported to another world, one far removed from our own — a mystical land of competing kingdoms, lethal warriors, dark magic and a bloody battle for supremacy. This is the fabled Land of Oz in a way you’ve never seen before, where wicked witches don’t stay dead for long and a young girl becomes a headstrong warrior who holds the fate of kingdoms in her hands.
NBC originally greenlighted Emerald City in January 2014. The project hailed from executive producers Matthew Arnold, who conceived the idea and penned the original script, and Josh Friedman, who tweaked the pilot script and ran the writers room. Several backup scripts had been completed when NBC brass and Friedman’s visions about the show diverged last summer, leading to the network’s decision to not go forward with it.
Universal Television, which developed the project and is producing it, always had been high on Emerald City, initially trying to shop it elsewhere and then taking a new stab at the premise, described as a modern and dark reimagining of the classic tale of Oz in the vein of Game Of Thrones, drawing upon stories from Baum’s original 14 books. The project started picking up momentum a month or so ago when Schulner came on board.
Schulner, who wrote the cult 2008 supernatural drama pilot The Oaks, previously took on another classic tale, Jekyll and Hyde, for a NBC series, creating the 2013 Do No Harm.
The pickup for Emerald City comes just as NBC executives are starting to see the pilots for next season. The network already has renewed its returning dramas The Blacklist, Law & Order: SVU, Chicago Fire, Chicago P.D. and Grimm. NBC’s freshman dramas have not produced a breakout, with procedural The Mysteries Of Laura and A.D. possibly the only candidates for renewal if the network decides to bring back any freshmen.