How ‘The Wiz’ was inspired by a mysterious ‘cult’

March 31, 2015 10:54 AM

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How ‘The Wiz’ was inspired by a mysterious ‘cult’

Released in 1978, “The Wiz” — an African American take on “The Wizard of Oz” — featured some of the greatest entertainers of the 20th century. And it lives on — NBC just announced it will produce a live version to follow its productions of “The Sound of Music” and “Peter Pan.”

But when it came out, “The Wiz” flopped. Critics found much to complain about. Diana Ross was too old for the part, some said. The film version was a poor imitation of the stage production, some said. The New York Times even said it helped end African American cinema until the rise of Spike Lee.

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