Program Will Be The First Live Entertainment Show In U.S. Broadcast
History To Be Accessible To People With Visual Disabilities
PHILADELPHIA–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Comcast will include a national video description pilot program with
NBC’s broadcast of the hit Broadway musical The Wiz Live! on
December 3, making it the first live entertainment program in U.S.
history to be accessible to people who have a visual disability. Video
description is a narration track that is included between the natural
pauses in dialogue that describes the visual elements of a show or movie
like facial expressions, settings, costumes and stage direction.
“Comcast’s commitment to include video description with the performance
of The Wiz Live! is ground-breaking,” said Kim
Charlson, President of The American Council of the Blind (ACB). “The
path to accessibility is a journey of inclusion of all audiences. Just
like the yellow brick road is the path to the heartfelt wishes of
Dorothy and her friends, the blindness community is very happy to travel
on this new path with Comcast and NBC.”
The described broadcast of The Wiz Live! is a
national pilot program that is available across the country, wherever
SAP (Secondary Audio Program) audio feeds are available. To deliver the
service, Comcast and NBC are partnering with Descriptive
Video Works, an industry leader in the delivery of quality described
video and audio description for people with a visual disability. The
company has provided more than 1,000 hours of Live Description,
including the Olympics, Paralympics, and the Royal Wedding.
In addition to providing accessible content like The Wiz Live!,
Comcast also has developed technologies that help people with
disabilities enjoy entertainment independently. For example, customers
who have the company’s X1 platform now have access to a talking
guide, a voice-enabled TV menu and interface, and a voice
controlled TV remote control, a device that simplifies the search
“The combination of accessible content and technology is powerful,” said
Tom Wlodkowski, Comcast’s Vice President of Accessibility. “We’re
working hard every day to make a positive impact in the lives of
millions of customers by making our products and services more
accessible and opening new doors to independence for people with
disabilities. The broadcast of The Wiz Live!
represents a real milestone in how people with visual impairments
“Earlier this year, I attended a theater production of The Wiz and
without description, found it very difficult to follow the characters
and action of the play,” said Carl Augusto, CEO of the American
Foundation for the Blind. “This nationally described
television broadcast will not only be a godsend to people with vision
loss, but also to those who describe action to people with vision loss,
and the general public, who will learn about the importance of audio
The Wiz Live! is adapted from “The Wonderful Wizard
of Oz” by L. Frank Baum, with a book by William F. Brown, and music and
lyrics by Charlie Smalls. The production opened on Broadway in 1975 at
the Majestic Theatre and won seven Tonys, including best musical.
The Wiz Live! stars Queen Latifah (The Wiz), Mary J.
Blige (Evillene), Shanice Williams (Dorothy), David Alan Grier (Cowardly
Lion), NE-YO (Tin Man), Elijah Kelley (Scarecrow), Amber Riley
(Addaperle), Stephanie Mills (Auntie Em), Uzo Aduba (Glinda) and Common
Craig Zadan and Neil Meron (“The Sound of Music Live!,” “Peter Pan
Live!,” Oscar-winning “Chicago”) will executive produce. Kenny Leon
(Tony winner, “A Raisin in the Sun”) is stage director and Matthew
Diamond is TV director, with Harvey Fierstein (three-time Tony winner,
“Torch Song Trilogy,” “Hairspray” and “La Cage aux Folles”) providing
new written material.
Esteemed choreographer Fatima Robinson (“Dreamgirls,” “Ali”) is also on
board, along with music producer Harvey Mason Jr. (“Dreamgirls, “Pitch
Perfect 2”) and Stephen Oremus (“The Book of Mormon,” “Kinky Boots”) as
music director, orchestrator and co-producer of the music.
“The Wiz Live!” is produced by Universal Television in
association with Cirque Du Soleil Theatrical.
The Wiz Live! premieres Thursday, Dec. 3 at 8 p.m. ET.
December 3 is also the International
Day of Persons with Disabilities.
About Comcast Cable:
Comcast Cable is one of the nation’s largest video, high-speed Internet
and phone providers to residential customers under the XFINITY brand and
also provides these services to businesses. Comcast has invested in
technology to build an advanced network that delivers among the fastest
broadband speeds, and brings customers personalized video,
communications and home management offerings. Comcast Corporation
(Nasdaq: CMCSA, CMCSK) is a global media and technology company. Visit www.comcastcorporation.com
for more information.
Steven Restivo, 215-286-3507