NBC, starting last year, has been trying to essentially do "televised theater"...actually doing broadway adaptations of stories but live and televised. Last year was the Sound Of Music, and they specifically followed the play version more so than the movie. This year it's Peter Pan.
For someone whose only real interactions with Peter Pan being the animated Disney film (which has certain freedoms because animation) and Hook (which was specifically meant to be a twist on the Peter Pan story, with Peter no longer being a boy but a man), I can see the confusion. I appreciate that you've got the open mind to understand, once more info is presented, that this has more to do with tradition than it does some PR or PC type of ploy.