NBC’s live production of The Wiz doesn’t air until December, but the mockery has already begun, with Jimmy Kimmel telling an audience of advertisers at ABC’s upfront presentation The Wiz would be NBC’s “third live televised musical catastrophe.” But perhaps it won’t be the farce the Twittersphere is hoping for now that NBC’s president Robert Greenblatt has announced Stephanie Mills as The Wiz Live’s Auntie Em. Mills lends The Wiz Live instant credibility. She originated the role of Dorothy in the 1975 Broadway musical, and The Wiz was so foundational to Mills’ singing career, she re-recorded its climactic song “Home” in 1989 and landed atop Billboard’s R&B singles chart.
Bringing Mills into the project pays a respectful nod to the musical’s origin and sends a message that The Wiz Live is a serious project, not a cheap stunt to be mocked en masse. But the rest of the parts remain open, so the producers still have plenty of time to piss everyone off by casting Iggy Azalea to play Dorothy.