December 3: If you have plans that night break ‘em, and if you don’t, keep your schedule clear, because that’s when NBC will be airing The Wiz Live! with Mary J. Blige and Queen Latifah.
According to EW, NBC has cast Latifah as the Wiz, while Blige will play Evillene, the Wicked Witch of the West. It was previously announced that Stephanie Mills will be Auntie Em in the live television adaptation of the of the classic musical.
The show is being produced by Craig Zadan and Neil Meron, who also made NBC’s other live musical events, 2013’s The Sound of Music Live! and last year’s Peter Pan Live! While those productions were met with mixed reviews, with a cast packing this much talent and star power, it’d be difficult for NBC to mess this one up.
Speaking of the cast, NBC is still searching for a Dorothy, and there’s no word yet if the network has anybody in mind (though we do).
NBC has also teamed up with Cirque Du Soleil, whose acrobats will be used in some scenes, including the tornado and flying monkey ones.
The Wiz Live! will be directed by Kenny Leon with Harvey Fierstein providing new written material.
As for Latifah’s and Blige’s roles, EW only gave brief descriptions:
As the Wiz, Latifah is “the mysterious and powerful wizard who holds the keys to the Emerald City, but whose metamorphosis from ordinary to extraordinary is itself a hoax. She rose to her lofty position after being transported by accident to Oz in a hot air balloon during a snowstorm.”
Blige’s Evillene, the Wicked Witch of the West, “holds sway over the Winkies and the Winged Monkeys that do her bidding. She captures Dorothy and her friends to avenge the unintentional murder of her evil sister, Evvamean, and to get back the powerful silver slippers given to Dorothy by the Good Witch of the North.”
We'll keep you updated with further news and casting annoucements.