Among the many, many, many Wizard Of Oz-related projects making their way through a roadblock of Peter Dinklages, NBC’s Emerald City is definitely one of them. So how does this dark reimagining of L. Frank Baum’s classic characters hope to stand out from all the others, other than a surprise, preemptive ceasing of production and devoting of its resources to a property that’s been less rehashed, like Frankenstein? By being the darkest Oz since Oz, according to these newly released casting call sheets. They promise that the 2014 series about Dorothy Gale’s tornado-fueled trip to the sarcastically dubbed “wonderful” world of Oz will be filled with psychologically scarred, drug-addicted, sexually confused, and generally unpleasant people. She’s definitely not in Kansas anymore, except in terms of suicide rates. Let’s head off to see them, before they kill themselves.
DOROTHY GALE | A natural, and not waify, beauty scarred by past experiences, Dorothy has patched a life together for herself despite the fact that she sells herself short. Outward insecurity and lack of self-awareness hide the
saviorsurvivor that she will discover she truly is.
This natural, definitely not waify beauty of 120 pounds or less because this is TV and we’re not crazy here will be the focus of the show, as her search for her biological mother leads her to a “sinister facility somewhere in the Midwest.” After she’s busted by police, she “steals a K9 police dog”—as even Toto is not immune to TV’s need to make every fantasy character into a cop—and speeds away, only to be caught in a twister and transported to Oz, “a mystical land of competing kingdoms, lethal warriors, dark magic, and a bloody battle for supremacy” of the kind never before seen with allusions to Wizard Of Oz characters inserted into it. Please also note that the word “savior” is crossed out here, as it’s best not to give anything away too early in this adaptation of a 114-year-old property.
WEST | This 30something femme is a corruptive — and fearsome — force of nature, a drugged-out virtuoso filled with self-loathing. She’s equal parts compelling and unsettling.
NORTH | In her 30s or 40s, this Type-A manipulative perfectionist has a bit of a “big sister” relationship to West.
These, obviously, are the show’s “witches,” whose respective wickedness and goodness can now be more easily diagnosed according to the DSM-IV. The Wicked Witch of the West is a “drugged-out virtuoso;” her album is amazing.
HENRY | The series’ male romantic lead, this handsome and well-built gent presents a seemingly open nature that belies a bit of a past.
This good-looking, well-structured man seems nice, so it’s a good thing he also harbors a dark secret, otherwise he’d have no place in the merry old land of Oz. TV Line commenters who claim to have read the script add that “Henry” is actually what Dorothy calls the show’s Scarecrow stand-in, naming him after her uncle—thus giving Emerald City the hint of incest required to become the broadcast network-appropriate Game Of Thrones it so desperately desires to be.
THE WIZARD | On the exterior, this 40something male is a charismatic and politically astute leader, earnest in his beliefs and intentions but also an “ends justify the means” sort. His showmanship however conceals a dangerous, and perhaps deadly, seriousness.
Indeed, what would The Wizard Of Oz be without dangerous and deadly seriousness?
TIP | All of 15 and harboring a secret past, this lass is undergoing the discomfort of discovering her sexuality.
JACK | Tip’s neighbor and closest friend, an adventurous and energetic teen.
Provided Emerald City has not entirely abandoned its origin, “Tip” is likely Princess Ozma, who was transformed into a boy to prevent her from taking over Oz. But in a way, is she not a stand-in for all teens finding their way through their own mystical realms of epic, bloody warfare and confusing feelings?
“Jack” is likely Jack Pumpkinhead, whose enthusiasm and energy means he’s destined to have his skull caved in.
OJO | A member of the Munja’kin, a primitive and isolated cross-pollinated culture, this stoic and fearsome man (mid-30s to early 40s) is rather unsympathetic to Dorothy’s plight.
Definitely not to be confused with the Munchkins, the Munja’kin are a proud, non-singing people who absolutely refuse to show Dorothy any roads. “Find it yourself,” they growl, staring stoically into the middle distance. Their “Lollipop Guild” is composed of a handful of surly union delegates who tell you to “suck it.”
SYLVIA | A “good mimic” is sought to play this odd, feral and haunted 10-year-old.
Emerald City: where even the 10-year-olds are feral and haunted. Aspiring actors must also be good at impressions, so as to believably convey a sense of youthful vigor after having it all immediately hollowed out of them by being around Emerald City.