The land of Oz seems to have found its leader, as veteran character actor Vincent D’Onofrio has been cast in the part of the Wizard in NBC’s upcoming reimagining of the Oz books called The Emerald City. D’Onofrio was most recently seen as the Kingpin in the Marvel/Netflix series Daredevil, where he portrayed the best onscreen Mavel villain since Loki. D’Onofrio’s version of the Wizard of Oz is described as “the enigmatic leader of Emerald City. A man of science in a world of magic, he rules through inspiration, fear and a tenuous accord with the grand witches.”
The new NBC fantasy drama is being described as a darker take on L. Frank Baum’s classic series of novels. In this new version, which has already received a ten episode order from the network, 20-year-old Dorothy Gale (Adria Arjona) and her K9 police dog from Kansas are transported to another world far away after a tornado, described as “a mystical land of competing kingdoms, lethal warriors, wicked witches, dark magic and a bloody battle for supremacy.” So, basically it’s Game of Thrones meets Oz? The series is being directed by Tarsem Singh, who directed D’Onofrio in the movie The Cell. This won’t be NBC’s only version of The Wizard of Oz, since they are also adapting The Wiz as this year’s live musical.
Although there are only 14 Oz novels by L.Frank Baum, the series has been difficult to adapt successfully, simply because the immense shadow of the beloved 1939 MGM musical version looms so huge. An animated film sequel called Journey Back to Oz was made in the early seventies, as was a live-action sequel by Disney called Return to Oz, both of which were failures at the box office. The most recent attempt, 2013’s Oz, the Great and Powerful, was a box office hit, but didn’t generate a lot of buzz and never spawned a series of films. Just two years later and it’s almost forgotten already. The most successful Oz adaptation outside of Judy Garland is the Broadway musical Wicked, which escaped the “Oz curse.” Hopefully this new NBC series will escape the curse as well.
Emerald City is expected to air sometime in 2016.
IMAGE: Marvel Studios/Netflix