'The Wiz Live!': Chatting Our Way Through Mary J. Blige's Awesomeness, Poppy Scenes and Odd Hashtags

Virginia Sherwood/NBC
Queen Latifah as The Wiz in 'The Wiz Live!' on Dec. 3, 2015 on NBC.

The Wiz Live! eased on down the yellow brick road on NBC tonight (Dec. 3).

Billboard editors Erin Strecker, Joe Lynch, Trish Halpin and Denise Warner watched together and chatted (with a special appearance by LA Editor Katie Atkinson, who was unable to watch live for obvious reasons) about Dorothy, the Scarecrow, the Cowardly Lion and the Tin Man's journey through Oz.  See their slightly edited thoughts below.

[7:56 PM] Denise Warner: Hello, hello! Joe, where are you?
[7:57 PM] Joe Lynch: I'm here!
[7:58 PM] Trish Halpin: I'm sooo ready. Ease on down, ease on down the roooooad.
[8:00 PM] Denise Warner: Backstage right now, they are getting ready.
[8:00 PM] Trish Halpin: Okay, well then they're behind schedule already. ps: i know every word to all the songs. Except the new one.
[8:01 PM] Denise Warner: I've never seen The Wiz.
[8:01 PM] Joe Lynch: MERCEDES is in this? So ready.
[8:01 PM] Trish Halpin: OMG the movie is so good!
[8:01 PM] Joe Lynch: Amend to "omg the movie is pretty good."
[8:02 PM] Trish Halpin: UGH it's already different from the movie.
[8:02 PM] Erin Strecker: GUYS. This is the stage show and it's different than the movie.
[8:02 PM] Erin Strecker: Much like Carrie Underwood's Sound of Music was VERY different than the Julie Andrews movie.
[8:02 PM] Joe Lynch: Damn opening with a dog -- risky.
[8:02 PM] Trish Halpin: The movie took place in Brooklyn, near Denise actually.
[8:02 PM] Trish Halpin: Diana ross's Dorothy lived on Prospect Place.*
[8:03 PM] Erin Strecker: This is the original Dorothy. FYI.
[8:03 PM] Denise Warner: I thought Diana Ross was?
[8:03 PM] Joe Lynch: That pink Walmart laundry hamper looks a bit out of place.
[8:03 PM] Denise Warner: So did the one dude's KC Royals hat.
[8:03 PM] Trish Halpin: So it's like, semi-modern Kansas?
[8:04 PM] Erin Strecker: On-stage, Denise.
[8:04 PM] Denise Warner: Oh got it.
[8:05 PM] Trish Halpin: Controversial statement: This Dorothy 100% deserves to get caught in a tornado... shes SUPER ungrateful.
[8:06 PM] Joe Lynch: Yeah she's not even their daughter. They don't have to put up with this.
[8:06 PM] Trish Halpin: (The character... not the actress, shes fine for far. just wanted to clarify for the record lol)
[8:07 PM] Denise Warner: Should we make a bet about who misses a cue first? Or is that too mean?
[8:07 PM] Trish Halpin: The dog.
[8:07 PM] Erin Strecker: I mean I don't think anyone going to miss a cue?
[8:08 PM] Denise Warner: Erin's the optimist
[8:09 PM] Trish Halpin: OMG she is FLYING!
[8:10 PM] Erin Strecker: Here's where the "co-produced by Cirque du Soleil" comes in.
[8:10 PM] Denise Warner: Wait, I thought it was in Brooklyn?
[8:10 PM] Trish Halpin: APPARENTLY the stage show isn't Brooklyn. Only the movie, which, is really disappointing.
[8:11 PM] Joe Lynch: Trish wants out of this.
[8:11 PM] Denise Warner: I like how it's the original silver shoes.
[8:11 PM] Joe Lynch: Ooh Denise with the L. Frank Baum #Facts.
[8:11 PM] Trish Halpin: Trish just realized this was 3 hours and not in New York, so she's confused.
[8:11 PM] Joe Lynch: THIS IS THREE HOURS. Bye
[8:12 PM] Denise Warner: It's 3 hours? Crap
[8:12 PM] Erin Strecker: YUP.
[8:12 PM] Denise Warner: Hello, Glee!


[8:12 PM] Joe Lynch: Well, I guess I am drinking tonight.
[8:12 PM] Trish Halpin: Mercedes looks like the Caterpillar in Alice in Wonderland.
[8:13 PM] Joe Lynch: U.S. of Oz.
[8:13 PM] Joe Lynch: I laughed, I'll admit it.
[8:14 PM] Denise Warner: There's an iPad?
[8:14 PM] Erin Strecker: Was the iPad in the original movie from the '70s?
[8:14 PM] Joe Lynch: Sharpay? HIGH SCHOOL MUSICAL ref.
[8:15 PM] Joe Lynch: I like the costumes.
8:15 PM Erin Strecker left the room (user disconnected)
[8:16 PM] Trish Halpin: Erin's over our sh--.
[8:16 PM] Erin Strecker: Wait, how did I become the outsider here?
[8:17 PM] Joe Lynch: Just want to confirm -- Wiz is short for "wizard," correct?
[8:17 PM] Trish Halpin: I like D's sneakers.
[8:17 PM] Joe Lynch: I'm really happy that Amber Riley singing is back on my TV.
[8:17 PM] Erin Strecker: Amber Riley belting those notes like early-seasons Mercedes.
[8:18 PM] Trish Halpin: Ok, first commercial hot takes!
[8:19 PM] Denise Warner: Everyone can sing really well!
8:20 PM Erin Strecker left the room (user disconnected)
[8:20 PM] Joe Lynch: i guess that's Erin's hot take.
[8:20 PM] Trish Halpin: Yeah, it's fine so far. I'm a little confused on the timeline, though.
[8:20 PM] Joe Lynch: I like it.
[8:20 PM] Denise Warner: What time they are in? Or the timeline of the story?
[8:20 PM] Trish Halpin: What time are they in.
[8:20 PM] Joe Lynch: I think present day, which threw me at first.
[8:21 PM] Trish Halpin: the good witch has an iPad, but Aunt Em looked straight dust bowl chic.


[8:22 PM] Denise Warner: Oh here's the Adele trailer for the concert that everyone but us attended.
[8:23 PM] Joe Lynch: So who is the Dorothy actress?
[8:23 PM] Trish Halpin: An unknown they found in an open casting call.
[8:24 PM] Erin Strecker: Okay, this has been a problem in all of these. Like, Amber Riley's character needs audience interaction to play off of. For Grease, they need a live audience Yes, I'm pining all my hopes on Grease.
[8:24 PM] Joe Lynch: But then ppl will yell swears. Or even worse.
[8:24 PM] Trish Halpin: Yes, a lot of things to fall flat
[8:26 PM] Trish Halpin: WAIT. Real question that only Erin can probably answer.
[8:26 PM] Trish Halpin: Are these songs ONLY from the stage show? Because I don't know any of them, but the movie ones I know word for word
[8:29 PM] Erin Strecker: Yes, but there's one new song for tonight. Also, freakin' READY for the next number.
[8:31 PM] Erin Strecker: Guys, coming up is going to be the best part of this thing so.
[8:34 PM] Trish Halpin: Is this "Ease on Down the Road"?!
[8:35 PM] Trish Halpin: I love when the music gets that funk kick in it.
[8:36 PM] Joe Lynch: Was Jesus the original scarecrow?
[8:38 PM] Trish Halpin: Fun Fact: Yes!
[8:38 PM] Erin Strecker: Joe, can you write a quick 800-word thinkpiece?
[8:39 PM] Joe Lynch: This guy is good.
[8:39 PM] Denise Warner: who is it?
[8:40 PM] Erin Strecker: Elijah Kelley.
[8:40 PM] Joe Lynch: Is he Broadway?
[8:40 PM] Denise Warner: OH. I know him!
[8:40 PM] Erin Strecker: You would know him from the Hairspray movie -- he was the guy.
[8:40 PM] Denise Warner: He was in the Hairspray movie.
[8:40 PM] Joe Lynch: OH!
[8:40 PM] Trish Halpin: HE WAS THE HAIRSPRAY GUY!
[8:40 PM] Joe Lynch: Great movie.
[8:40 PM] Trish Halpin: I LOVED HIM IN THAT!
[8:40 PM] Denise Warner: And he was the younger brother in The ButlerOr excuse me, Lee Daniels' The Butler.
[8:40 PM] Erin Strecker: Guys, we've now established he was in the Hairspray movie, yes.
[8:41 PM] Trish Halpin: Ok, they're no Diana Ross and Michael Jackson, but that was alright.
[8:42 PM] Joe Lynch: Diana Ross was way too old for Dorothy anyway
[8:42 PM] Trish Halpin: So was Judy Garland.
[8:42 PM] Erin Strecker: THEY WANTED SHIRLEY TEMPLE BUT THE STUDIOS WERE JERKS.
[8:42 PM] Joe Lynch: Judy was perfect. She was 17. Diana Ross was 33.
[8:43 PM] Denise Warner: Stockard Channing was 34 in Grease.
[8:43 PM] Trish Halpin: Did you read the book? She was written as a CHILD.
[8:43 PM] Joe Lynch: I read all 14 original books Trish, so don't even test me.
[8:43 PM] Trish Halpin: Yeah, because Dorothy was written as like an 8-year-old.
[8:43 PM] Erin Strecker: Yeah, it was written as a CHILD who could have this elaborate FANTASY.
[8:43 PM] Joe Lynch: it was a #SecondGradeFavorite.
[8:44 PM] Trish Halpin: Yeah, ok, so what I'm saying is that if Judy was even too old, then I think we can let Diana go because they reworked the story for her to be in her 20s for the movie.
[8:44 PM] Denise Warner: It was about the Gold Vs. Silver Standard and the plight of the American Farmers
and like William Jennings Bryan? right?
[8:44 PM] Erin Strecker: Capitalism is bad.
[8:46 PM] Trish Halpin: So, I also love the "sequel" Disney made with Fairuza Balk.
[8:46 PM] Denise Warner: OMG.
[8:46 PM] Joe Lynch: Trish -- that movie is total trash.
[8:46 PM] Denise Warner: RETURN TO OZ!
[8:46 PM] Trish Halpin: YES!
[8:46 PM] Denise Warner: With the heads!
[8:46 PM] Trish Halpin: NO JOE
[8:46 PM] Trish Halpin: IT'S AWESOME
[8:46 PM] Trish Halpin: YES! THE HEADS! Mombi! And Tick Tok! And the Gump!
[8:47 PM] Joe Lynch: You know, Tik Tok is the first robot in literature.
[8:47 PM] Trish Halpin: Yes, I know.
[8:47 PM] Denise Warner: I did not know that!
[8:47 PM] Joe Lynch: "Pull my finger if you would" - Ne-Yo​
[8:47 PM] Trish Halpin: He's a big deal to all the steam punkers too
[8:47 PM] Denise Warner: Wait, where is Toto?
[8:48 PM] Joe Lynch: Dog is a liability.
[8:48 PM] Denise Warner: And thus potential viral moments.
[8:53 PM] Trish Halpin: How is this movie 3 hours if she found those 3 dudes rapid fire in like 10 minutes.
[8:53 PM] Joe Lynch: This Lion song isn't the best.
[8:54 PM] Trish Halpin: Why is he wearing one of the ewok vests?
[8:54 PM] Joe Lynch: Ne-Yo will spend the next two hours putting his hat back on.
[8:55 PM] Trish Halpin: That hat is part of his spring 2016 hat line
[8:57 PM] Denise Warner: Two more hours!
[9:03 PM] Denise Warner: Is this a trick?
[9:03 PM] Trish Halpin: Yeah. But that's super messed up and I will have nightmares
[9:04 PM] Erin Strecker: We just walked into a different musical.
[9:04 PM] Denise Warner: We're not in Kansas anymore
[9:04 PM] Joe Lynch: Tin Man lost his damn hat again.
[9:04 PM] Trish Halpin: Cirque du Soleil presents!
[9:05 PM] Erin Strecker: Tin Man needs to learn first rule of theater: Always have some bobby pins
[9:08 PM] Joe Lynch: So I guess David Alan Grier is an incredible singer?
[9:08 PM] Denise Warner: Apparently. Who knew?
[9:08 PM] Joe Lynch: Presumably Erin.
[9:08 PM] Trish Halpin: He's done Broadway for years though.
[9:08 PM] Erin Strecker: Fact check: I did know that.
[9:09 PM] Joe Lynch: Poppy seduction!
[9:09 PM] Erin Strecker: No, they are not just flowers.
[9:10 PM] Denise Warner: "Let a lion do what a lion has got to do." This is oddly sexual
[9:10 PM] Erin Strecker: Oddly? Or appropriate amount of sexual?
[9:10 PM] Trish Halpin: Yeah ,well it's banging and doing drugs
[9:10 PM] Erin Strecker: *amount of
[9:11 PM] Trish Halpin: this was written in the 70s, so... sex and heroin sounds about right. This = the wiz
[9:11 PM] Denise Warner: I don't remember The Wizard of Oz being sexual.
[9:11 PM] Trish Halpin: No, that was basic, The Wiz got sexy and a little more real.
[9:16 PM] Joe Lynch: SPOILER MUCH? This Wicked commercial?
[9:16 PM] Trish Halpin: That's a prequelllllll
[9:16 PM] Joe Lynch: That's true. COMMON. 


[9:18 PM] Joe Lynch: They're Vogue-ing.
[9:18 PM] Erin Strecker: THEY'RE VOGUE-ING! BYE FOREVER! RIP ME!
[9:19 PM] Joe Lynch: Lol Emerald City is Vogue-ing.
[9:19 PM] Denise Warner: Strike a pose.
[9:20 PM] Erin Strecker: When do they run into Idina Menzel and Kristin Chenoweth?
[9:20 PM] Joe Lynch: The Emerald City is kind of the Hunger Games Capitol.
[9:24 PM] Erin Strecker: FMK Tin Man, Scarecrow, Cowardly Lion.
[9:24 PM] Denise Warner: F the Lion, K the Tin Man, M the Scarecrow. Obviously.
[9:26 PM] Katie Atkinson: I feel so left out of this viewing party right now... I should have Skyped in with you!
[9:26 PM] Joe Lynch: How is there an HOUR left?
[9:27 PM] Trish Halpin: An hour and 20 minutes.
[9:27 PM] Erin Strecker: Joe, there is 90 minutes left.
[9:27 PM] Denise Warner: Behind the curtain, it's actually James Franco.
[9:27 PM] Joe Lynch: The talking head was an impressive effect.
Queen Latifah as The Wiz in NBC's The Wiz Live! on Dec. 3, 2015.Virginia Sherwood/NBC

[9:27 PM] Katie Atkinson: what's the review so far? out of 10?
[9:28 PM] Trish Halpin: it was like 7/10... but after that emerald city its --
[9:28 PM] Denise Warner: I'm so confused, who is Common playing? And Queen Latifah is The Wiz?
[9:28 PM] Erin Strecker: "You do one for (The Wiz) she'll put out for you." --Matron Mama Wiz.
[9:28 PM] Trish Halpin: Common was the Bouncer of the Emerald City
[9:28 PM] Erin Strecker: Also, Katie I give it like a 7.
[9:28 PM] Erin Strecker: It's for kids, but it's well done. And better than the other two.
[9:29 PM] Joe Lynch: If you're good to Wizzie, she'll be good to you.
[9:29 PM] Denise Warner: Except for the poppy sex scene.
[9:29 PM] Katie Atkinson: Oh noooo!
[9:31 PM] Trish Halpin: PAUSE. Dorothy called The Wiz 'Sir'.
[9:40 PM] Joe Lynch: "No half stepping. Kill me that bitch."
[9:41 PM] Trish Halpin: SQUAD.
[9:42 PM] Joe Lynch: Dorothy's Squad. No, not another slow song.
[9:42 PM] Denise Warner: Oh now it's picking up.
[9:43 PM] Erin Strecker: This is the new song, FYI.
[9:43 PM] Denise Warner: I need some wine.
[9:44 PM] Joe Lynch: Okay, they won't back down. Wrap up the song and move on.
[9:44 PM] Trish Halpin: this is why its so long. 
[9:45 PM] Joe Lynch: Serious question: Who is Dorothy hooking up with?
[9:45 PM] Trish Halpin: Scarecrow.
[9:45 PM] Joe Lynch: I say Scarecrow.
[9:46 PM] Erin Strecker: Scarecrow, no question. Where do you think my FMK came from
[9:46 PM] Trish Halpin: THERE ARE MORE COMMERCIALS THAN SHOW WTF?
[9:47 PM] Erin Strecker: THIS IS INTERMISSION FYI!
[9:48 PM] Trish Halpin: But in real shows, it goes for 60-90 minutes, thirty minute break, then an hour 45-60 minutes. Every 4 minutes of show, we're getting 4 minutes of commercial here.
[9:50 PM] Joe Lynch: Some Metropolis flavor.
[9:51 PM] Joe Lynch: Mary J Blige!!
[9:52 PM] Joe Lynch: Um."I'd be happy to let you have it any time."
[9:52 PM] Denise Warner: I'd be happy to let you have it anytime?
[9:52 PM] Joe Lynch: LOL
[9:52 PM] Denise Warner: ISN'T THIS FOR KIDS?
[9:53 PM] Trish Halpin: The Wiz wasn't really for kids
[9:53 PM] Trish Halpin: AND! Harvey Fierstein wrote this NBC version, so anything goes really.
[9:53 PM] Erin Strecker: I think a lot of things can be explained here by "It was the '70s."
[9:53 PM] Joe Lynch: I remember this song!
Mary J Blige as Evillene in NBC's The Wiz Live! on Dec. 3, 2015.Virginia Sherwood/NBC
[9:53 PM] Denise Warner: I want her leggings.
[9:54 PM] Trish Halpin: I'm digging her makeup.
[9:54 PM] Denise Warner: So they suggest hashtags now? #Ihatewater
[9:55 PM] Joe Lynch: Mary J Blige: A. Suggested hashtags: C+
[9:57 PM] Denise Warner: Has anyone seen Beaches?
[9:57 PM] Joe Lynch: Duh.
[9:57 PM] Denise Warner: This reminds me of the weird off-Broadway musical Bette was in.



[9:57 PM] Joe Lynch: Oh yeah! That was also Metropolis inspired!
[9:58 PM] Trish Halpin: Wow.
[9:58 PM] Denise Warner: Industry, charity, faith, hope.
[9:58 PM] Joe Lynch: Ha.
[10:03 PM] Denise Warner: So I just read a theory that the Glinda was really the Machiavellian mastermind. (this really applies to the original more)
[10:04 PM] Trish Halpin: link?
[10:06 PM] Denise Warner: Last graf.
[10:15 PM] Joe Lynch: I just remembered that Queen Latifah and Common shared the screen together before as #RomanticLeads
[10:15 PM] Denise Warner: OMG. That football movie!
[10:15 PM] Joe Lynch: Wasn't it basketball?
[10:15 PM] Denise Warner: oh yes. And I like sports, too. I should know the difference.
[10:16 PM] Joe Lynch: Once again, this moving Wizard head is cool
[10:17 PM] Trish Halpin: The Wiz is wearing Ugg slippers.
[10:17 PM] Joe Lynch: Queen Latifah is all The Wiz and chill on that couch
[10:17 PM] Denise Warner: How are theres 43 minutes left? I'm really into it, seriously, but like, this is the end of the story?
[10:18 PM] Joe Lynch: My TV says it wraps at 10:45.
[10:18 PM] Denise Warner: Except for Orange Is the New Black's Uzo Adubo.
[10:18 PM] Trish Halpin: The Good Witch has a song, right?
[10:18 PM] Joe Lynch: Yeah where the f-- is she?
[10:19 PM] Erin Strecker: Remember when Michelle Williams was the Good Witch?
[10:19 PM] Joe Lynch: Erased from memory.
[10:19 PM] Erin Strecker: Actress Michelle Williams.
[10:21 PM] Denise Warner: Oz. I really liked that movie. Spoiler alert: Mila Kunis turns into the wicked witch because James Franco breaks up with her.
[10:22 PM] Joe Lynch: NO that movie was so bad.
[10:22 PM] Joe Lynch: Admittedly I only saw 30 minutes on TV. But I could not deal.
[10:22 PM] Erin Strecker: DENISE THAT MOVIE WAS TERRIBLE.
[10:23 PM] Trish Halpin: Yeah, angry white female isn't a very fun backstory.
[10:23 PM] Denise Warner: I liked it.
[10:23 PM] Trish Halpin: Pretty degrading and sexist, too.
[10:23 PM] Denise Warner: It was pretty.
[10:23 PM] Trish Halpin: Yeah, it was pretty, but it wasn't good.
[10:30 PM] Joe Lynch: That guy has a Koosh ball for a head.
[10:31 PM] Joe Lynch: I miss Amber Riley
[10:33 PM] Joe Lynch: That dress is awesome.

[10:33 PM] Trish Halpin: It's made out of those weird brush plastic light up wands you get a the circus or something.
[10:33 PM] Joe Lynch: Then Glenda wakes up in jail. It was all an OITNB dream.
[10:34 PM] Denise Warner: and then Bob Newhart wakes up, and it was all his dream.
[10:34 PM] Trish Halpin: Guys it's ALWAYS "only a dream."
[10:39 PM] Joe Lynch: TOTO is ALIVE.
[10:40 PM] Trish Halpin: Oh thank God.
Is that it?
[10:40 PM] Joe Lynch: Nah, there's gotta be the whole "and you were there, and you were there."
[10:44 PM] Denise Warner: Oh it's over!
[10:44 PM] Joe Lynch: Wait, that was it?
[10:44 PM] Denise Warner: Final thoughts?
[10:44 PM] Joe Lynch: That was a silly ending moment, but I liked it!
[10:44 PM] Trish Halpin: This was the best of NBC's other attempts.
[10:44 PM] Joe Lynch: It was fun. Impressively, no mistakes.
[10:45 PM] Erin Strecker: It was NBC's best yet.
[10:45 PM] Joe Lynch: Stunt casting worked better here than in Peter Pan.
[10:45 PM] Trish Halpin: I guess I'd give it like 7/10?
[10:45 PM] Joe Lynch: Yeah, 7/10
[10:45 PM] Erin Strecker: I understand why not, but they really need to consider a live audience. I think it would really improve things and help performers.
[10:46 PM] Joe Lynch: I agree with Erin.
[10:46 PM] Joe Lynch: I thought the poppy sex scene was tastefully done.
[10:46 PM] Denise Warner: And on that note ... good night!

*There is some debate over where the movie takes place. Techinically in Harlem, but according to Trish, Diana Ross gives her address as a place in Brooklyn.