9:39am PT by Michael O'Connell
NBC Orders 'Wizard of Oz' Series, Mini 'The Slap'
NBC is building its 2014-15 lineup a little early. Moments after announcing that Peter Pan will be the 2014 follow-up to The Sound of Music Live!, network entertainment chairman Bob Greenblatt told reporters at the Television Critics Association that the network has ordered two projects: Emerald City and The Slap.
Emerald City, one of several Wizard of Oz projects that's been floating around as the beloved story marks its 75th anniversary, is a dark retelling of the famous L. Frank Baum book series. Greenblatt said he expected a midseason launch for the project, which will run for 10 episodes.
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"Who knows? Emerald City could be over after 10 episodes if we feel we've plumbed the depths of what we want to do with that show," Greenblatt said. "Or given that there are a number of books to draw from, we could have Emerald City on the air for five years."
Described as a "dramatic and modern reimagining," Emerald City focuses on a headstrong 20-year-old Dorothy Gale -- unwittingly sent to Oz, where she finds herself at the center of an epic and bloody battle. Writer Matt Arnold (Siberia) and Josh Friedman (Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles, The Finder) will serve as executive producers, with Universal Television producing.
Additionally, NBC has ordered the eight-part miniseries The Slap. The event series chronicles the fallout of what happens when a man slaps another couple’s misbehaving child at a family BBQ. This small event sparks a massive family dispute that exposes secrets, prompts a lawsuit and tears the family apart. Greenblatt and entertainment president Jennifer Salke were confident that it would only run as a miniseries.
Written by Jon Robin Baitz (The West Wing, Brothers & Sisters), The Slap is also produced by Universal Television. Baitz, a Pulitzer finalist for the play A Fair Country, will write all episodes and executive produce with Walter Parkes, Laurie MacDonald, Ted Gold and Tony Ayres. NBC first put The Slap -- based on the Australian mini -- in development in October 2012, eyeing it as an eight-episode order.
Both orders follow the network's previous straight-to-series green light for Tina Fey and Robert Carlock's comedy vehicle for The Office actress Ellie Kemper. The Blacklist has also received an early order for the 2014-15 season.
NBC's pickups also come as broadcast networks are gradually shifting to year-round original programming with bigger swings and shorter orders in a bid to compete with cable networks, draw live viewers in a DVR era and awards season cachet.
Lesley Goldberg contributed to this report.