Every week, Emerald City executive producers 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, Cassidy wraps things up following the season finale, “No Place Like Home.”
This is a thank you note. Writing and producing Emerald City, and then sharing the experience of viewing it with so many of you through social media, has been thrilling. As our 10-hour epic comes to a close, we offer you a short recap of our journey.
Emerald City was inspired by L. Frank Baum’s fourteen Wizard of Oz books. We’re big fans of all things Oz, from the 1939 MGM film to The Wiz and Wicked, but those are musicals and NBC thought Baum’s stories might be worth reimagining through the lens of adult drama. Because the books were not originally written as children’s tales but as political allegory, their core themes still resonated for us. One hundred years after the fact, women are still fighting for empowerment; religion, science, and magic (nature!) are often at war; and the pursuit of identity — racial, gender and otherwise — remains very much at the forefront of our political and cultural conversation.
Many traditional rules for how network television is made were broken for this show. All 100 scripts were written long before anything was filmed, then re-written as we decided upon actors and locations. Our extraordinary director, Tarsem Singh, only agreed to sign on if he could shoot the entire series, non-episodically, like a 10-hour feature film. To make the series look unlike anything audiences had ever seen before, 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 Parc Güell in Barcelona. Most remarkably, we were able to assemble a brilliant cast from all over the world, led by the amazing Vincent D’Onofrio as our follically-challenged demagogue of a Wizard, and newcomer Adria Arjona as Dorothy.
The story of a young woman’s search for self via a way home is a timeless one, as is the reclaiming of head, heart, and soul as represented by the Scarecrow, Tin Man, and Lion. All of these iconic characters came to life in our Oz, but how they revealed themselves may have been a surprise.
As you have seen in our finale, “No Place Like Home” (written by David Schulner and Josh Carlebach), this story has now ended, but a new one lies ahead. Should NBC choose to make another limited series based on Baum’s characters, David and I would welcome the opportunity. If not, know that this has been one of the most fulfilling experiences either of us has enjoyed, and we remain humbled by all of our brilliant creative partners who made this show so exceptional.
With gratitude to all of you,
Shaun Cassidy & David Schulner
Executive Producers of Emerald City