A whole lotta ‘Oz’: ABC president forsees ‘Wicked’ synergy

01.10.11 7 years ago

Disney-owned ABC is developing a mini-series based on the novel that inspired “Wicked,” the hit Broadway musical, at the same time that Disney itself is developing another “Wizard of Oz”-informed full-length film. But ABC Entertainment president Paul Lee doesn’t think of the projects as competing. In fact, he looks at the intertwining of the two as “a good thing for us.”

Lee told HitFix at the Television Critics Association press tour in Pasadena that a “high-profile limited series” of “Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West” is still only in the development stages, with no script ready to read. However, he does see it fit within the ABC brand.
“[The mini-series] is a sort of fabulous idea and it goes back to the book more than the musical, so it’s epic, it’s romantic and it’s very much within our brand,” he said. “We’ve got a great writer on it. Look, we’re at the development stage. I don’t know if we’re going to get there, but the notion of having it resonate elsewhere in the company is a good thing for us.”
TV Line is reporting that “Ugly Betty” producer/actress Selma Hayek has teamed with ABC to get the series moving, with “Band of Brothers” writer Erik Jendresen penning a script.
Walt Disney, in the meantime, is putting the pieces together for “Oz: The Great and Powerful,” with Robert Downey, Jr., on deck to play the wonderful wizard. As we said in October, “Spider-Man” director Sam Raimi will be directing. The movie would be a prequel to the 1939 classic “Wizard of Oz” while the alleged “Wicked” bestseller and mini-series acts as a story told parallel to the original “Oz.”
Disney/ABC owns the rights to the book “Wicked” while Universal Pictures has the rights to the musical. And, as previously reported, Universal has been waiting to begin shooting a big-screen adaptation of the Broadway musical, to avoid interfering with the success of the stage version but also to release it while consumers’ interest in the story and the music is at a peak. “Glee” creator Ryan Murphy is currently in the running to direct the flick. Fitting.
What does that mean for consumers? A whole lot of “Oz” action may be headed their way. Universal likely doesn’t want their “Wicked” screen music to be undercut by a mini-series, so consider that fire lit. ABC is enthusiastic about the synergy, so that may drop at the same time. And Warner Bros. is still weighing a remake of the original, based on the books by Frank L. Baum (now public domain).
What do you think? Is there such a thing as too much “Wicked” and “Oz?” Will these films and series ideas cancel each other out?


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