The Wiz live airs Dec. 3 on NBC. Ease on down the road!
The Wiz now is viewed as a black cultural icon in film, but that wasn’t always the case. The original film was a box office failure it made only 21 million opposite it’s budget of 24 million. The film is considered a reason why black casts and serious films never seemed to go together. The film was a commercial and critical failure, it effectively ended the resurgence of African-American films, and it start the blaxploitation problem that has yet to end. Matter of fact, the overall failure of the film steered Hollywood away from working with black writers and directors, and producing films with all black casts.
So, how is it that a movie that was so terrible and damaging to film (in particular African-American film and African-Americans in media) now finds it’s way to the big screens?
There are two main theories to support how the initially awful film would go on to become a cult classic. The first is Oz.
The land of Oz has yet to get old. Wicked is amazing. Other adaptions like Tin Man are excellent, and the world of Oz has so much to offer. From characters to magic, witches, and more it’s amazing. The Wicked Witch has now become a man cast member on the ABC hit Once Upon A Time because people love Oz. In a way the world created by Frank L. Baum is revered and loved similar to Dahl’s Wonderland.
The second is Michael Jackson. Michael Jackson is the greatest musical entertainer that has ever lived. That is fact. Jackson’s life and even his death is still today one of the most celebrated things. It wouldn’t be a stretch to say that the death of Michael Jackson in a way unified America as a whole. He was and is that big. MJ has Cirque du Soleil shows, imitation shows, and still can be played at any party or club to get people to turn up.
The Wiz Live is the latest version of the now famed musical, and it’s brought out the best. The production stars Queen Latifah, Mary J. Blige, Uzo Aduba, Ne-Yo, and Common. The all star cast which features both high caliber musical and acting talents are sure to bring the best parts of the musical to life.
I think the original Wiz simply was released before it’s time. A soul/r&b musical with a full black cast is something that would do wonders in the 21st century, see Dreamgirls. But, back then the world simply wasn’t ready.
Be sure to tune in to watch The Wiz Live tonight on NBC at 8/7 c