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Will NBC Ever Use a Live Studio Audience? Zadan & Meron Answer!


As BWW reported earlier today, NBC's live broadcast of THE WIZ LIVE! brought in a whopping 11.5 million viewers - a reason to celebrate for the network. Executive producers Craig Zadan and Neil Meron chatted with the Hollywood Reporter today about the huge success of the show and what is in store for the future.

When asked if they would consider using a live audience in the future, Meron responded: "No. From Day 1, we wanted to harken back to way musicals were done live on TV in the '50s and wanted to update it with a contemporary technique. We still would like to honor the tradition where this genre was given birth and that's in the '50s. We know that it's taken awhile for the audience to get used to it but in the three years we've been doing it, there's always a cry for live audience but that's not that's special. What's special is do these on a soundstage and live in moment without that audience and to allow cameras to come in and get up close and personal and have the audience at home be the live audience. The audience at home is the live audience."

On what is being considered for next year, Zadan continued: "It's not like we're close to a decision on anything. Every time someone brought it up, we'd say let's see how this one goes. Since we changed the playing field for ourselves this year in the way we did everything and the whole technique of doing the show is different, we set out on a path that has changed the way we do them. That's going to inform what the next show is going to be. We don't want to go back to the way we did Peter Pan or The Sound of Music; we want to keep moving forward."

Click here to read the full interview.

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.

Photo Credit: Linda Lenzi

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