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NBC axes Oz-themed ‘Emerald City’ before pilot even films

That was a quick trip to Oz. After announcing the series “Emerald City” would be on the lineup next season, NBC has decided to cut its trip down the yellow brick road short. On Friday, Deadline reported that the Peacock Network decided not to move forward with the “Oz”-inspired fantasy drama, despite an earlier straight to series order. The report revealed that NBC execs and producer Josh Friedman disagreed over the creative direction of the series, and hinted that the show will likely be shopped elsewhere.

BEVERLY HILLS, CA - JULY 14: Executive producer Josh Friedman of 'Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles' speaks during day seven of the Fox Image Campaign 2008 Summer Television Critics Association Press Tour held at the Beverly Hilton hotel on July 14,
BEVERLY HILLS, CA - JULY 14: Executive producer Josh Friedman of 'Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles' speaks during day seven of the Fox Image Campaign 2008 Summer Television Critics Association Press Tour held at the Beverly Hilton hotel on July 14,
Photo by Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images

The 10-episode Mathew Arnold/Josh Friedman series was described as “a modern reimagining” of the stories that lead up to L. Frank Baum’s “The Wonderful Wizard of Oz,” but it was slated to take on a much darker tone, with a head-strong 20-year-old Dorothy, lethal warriors, bloody battles and evil witches that don’t stay dead. And you thought those flying monkeys were scary?

The “Oz”-themed limited run series would have debuted on the heels of the iconic motion picture’s 75th anniversary, and it was already highly anticipated. In fact, the project was heavily promoted in July at Comic-Con in San Diego and the show was already listed on NBC’s website for a 2014-15 debut.

In case you’re wondering what you’ll now miss (or perhaps won’t miss, if the buzzy series gets picked up elsewhere), TV Line posted a sneak peek at the list of uncast characters. In addition to Dorothy, there is the fearsome North and West duo, a romantic lead named Henry, a 40-something Wizard and his right hand man Eamonn, and several teen and tween characters. There’s also Ojo, a member of the Munja’kin, which is described as “a primitive and isolated cross-pollinated culture.”

At the winter TCA press tour earlier this year, NBC chairman Robert Greenblatt had high hopes for the epic upcoming show, dishing that production would start by the end of the summer, with an initial 10 episodes ready for a mid-season run. And he ventured that the show could go on even longer.

“'Emerald City’ could be over after 10 episodes, if we feel like we’ve plumbed the depths of what we want to do with that show,” the NBC exec said. “But, given that there are a number of books to draw from, and a rich imagination of a writing staff, we could have ‘Emerald City’ on the air for five years.”

Or not.