ABC has barely started development on a limited-series project based on “Wicked,” but based on the response at the TV critics winter press tour Monday (Jan. 10), it’s not going to have much trouble attracting buzz.
The project, based on the Gregory Maguire book-turned-musical which makes “The Wizard of Oz’s” Wicked Witch of the West the heroine, was announced over the weekend. Salma Hayek will executive produce what’s reported to be an eight-hour miniseries; Erik Jendresen, a veteran of HBO’s “Band of Brothers,” is writing it.
That’s about it as far as details go, but ABC Entertainment president Paul Lee still got several questions about “Wicked,” including whether it would conflict with an “Oz” movie Disney has in the works.
“[There are] no concerns at all” on that front, Lee says. “It’s sort of a 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. … We’re in 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 — that’s a very good thing for us.”
Jendresen hasn’t submitted a script to the network yet, so we’re a long way from any version of “Wicked” making onto ABC’s air. Which means it’s probably a little premature to be asking Lee about how he’ll schedule it, or whether this signals a return of the miniseries on network TV. Lee got that question anyway, though, and used it to expound on the risk associated with running a TV network.
“I think it’s a balance. I think inherently that these networks [and] television … is a risky business,” he says. “… Some of the most fun things you do are things you’ve never seen before. Some of the best writers have tones and attitudes that are unexpected, and I’d like to encourage that.”
What do you think of a “Wicked” miniseries? Do you like the idea of basing it more on the book than the musical?