Every week, Emerald City EPs David Schulner and Shaun Cassidy will bring EW behind the scenes and explain the ins-and-outs of the new NBC dark fantasy series inspired by the Land of Oz books. Here, they introduce the two-part series premiere with “The Beast Forever” and “Prison of the Abject.” Take it away!
Haven’t we been down this yellow brick road before?
You may be asking yourself this question as you decide to watch our new show, Emerald City. It was a question we certainly asked ourselves before we took on this iconic project. From the 1939 movie musical The Wizard of Oz to Wicked, The Wiz, and everything in between (Tom and Jerry also went to Oz), you may feel like you’ve seen it all before. Well…
Emerald City is based on all 14 of L. Frank Baum’s series of Oz books, where new Kingdoms lay beyond the Shifting Sands and surprising characters like Tip, Ojo, Langwidere, and Ozma are introduced. Dorothy Gale is still our heroine and her story of self-discovery remains as central as ever, as do the reclaiming of head, heart, and soul as represented by a Scarecrow, Tin Man, and Lion. All of these iconic characters come to life in Emerald City, but how they reveal themselves will surprise you.
The timelessness of the books certainly surprised us when we read them. An army of girls, sick of being ruled by men, marches on Emerald City to overthrow the patriarchy. A young boy is transformed into a girl and must live inside a body that’s at odds with his sense of self. One hundred years after these stories were written, women are still fighting for empowerment, science and religion/magic are often at war, and the pursuit of identity – racial, gender, and otherwise – remains at the forefront of our political and cultural conversation. And, of course, there will always be “No place like home.”
But how do you create a world no one’s ever seen before?
You hire the right director.
Tarsem Singh is a brilliant visual storyteller. He took our 10 scripts and brought a level of beauty and wonder to them that was simply unimaginable on the page. To make the series look and feel different than anything audiences had ever experienced, we limited our CGI use and instead searched the globe for locations possessed of true magic: Old Roman roads on the coast of Spain, a remote National Park in Croatia, 15th-century castles in Hungary, Gaudi’s Park Güell in Barcelona.
We both shared an incredible journey in the making of Emerald City, and we’re eager to share that journey with you. So, grab some popcorn, brace for flying monkeys, and join Vincent D’Onofrio, Adria Arjona, and a dazzling cast of witches and warriors for an epic adventure down our freshly minted yellow brick road.
Emerald City airs Fridays at 9 p.m. on NBC.