Oz in the News 10.20.16


Puppet People present ‘Wizard of Oz’ at Doctorow Center for the Arts in Hunter on Oct. 22 Join puppeteers Mark Carrigan and Michelle Smith-Carrigan as they travel to The Emerald City and beyond in the magical Land of Oz and bring to life this literary classic. Watch Dorothy, The Scarecrow, The Tinman and The Cowardly Lion learn about home, courage, heart and smarts. This puppet fantasy features marionettes, shadow puppets, rod puppets, a large parade puppet and more. The Puppet People present “The Wizard of Oz” on Saturday, Oct. 22, at 3:30 p.m. at the Doctorow Center for the Arts, 7971 Main St., Hunter. Visit catskillmtn.org for tickets or more information.

Michael Siewert shows us the world’s largest private Judy Garland collection If you are a Judy fan, you’re in for a big treat: Michael Siewert, who owns the world’s largest private collection of Judy Garland memorabilia, is with us. You’ll see pieces from his collection which will be on exhibit in London this month!  Some of the gowns and from Michael’s exhibit, “Judy Garland: the Dressing of a Legend,” include costumes from her most iconic films, “Meet Me in St. Louis,” “Easter Parade” and this show-stopper from “In the Good Old Summertime.” Michael has been collecting Judy Garland dresses for 20 years. He says it’s been a privilege to be the steward of a piece of history.  You can learn much more about his collection at judygarland.com.

A Judy Garland Hologram Will Tour the World in 2017 Alki David, Hologram USA’s C.E.O., worked with her son, Joey Luft, to create a hologram version of the star, with her performances drawn largely from The Judy Garland Show, which aired on CBS from 1963 to 1964. “It will be a one-hour attraction in the style of a Broadway show,” David explains. “There will be a lot of narrative and a lot of music.” The details of the show and the tour are still in the works, but David promises “a completely digital Garland,” accomplished via its established hologram technology as well as work with new real-time motion capture, which will allow actors onstage to be transformed into Garland’s body. It’s the same technology used for the hologram of Tupac Shakur at Coachella in 2013—and all based on an old carnival trick called Pepper’s Ghost—but with a constantly evolving high-tech twist. “Every show is a little different,” David explains. “We have different technologies other than just the projections, certain novel animation techniques, voice modulations, things like that that sort of make the projection really as spectacular as possible.” He continues, “They will see a real life Judy Garland onstage performing her life story, her trials and tribulations, her greatest songs, and it will be a celebration of her life in a very entertaining, witty, musical.”

What a world, what a world: Ruby slippers still missing from Minnesota’s Judy Garland Museum Last year, on the 10th anniversary of the theft, an anonymous fan put up a $1 million reward, hoping to secure their return. An Itasca County sheriff’s dive team searched a watery quarry for them last summer, chasing a tip that local kids might have broken into the museum as a prank and tossed the shoes away in a panic. The searchers found nothing, and the reward expired without anyone stepping forward to collect. The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences snagged another pair at auction for $2 million for a museum it is building in Los Angeles. The Smithsonian’s Kickstarter page seeking donations for slipper restoration raised more than $80,000 in its first day. Why all the fuss for some 80-year-old movie props? Kelsch gets that question a lot. “France has the Mona Lisa. America has ‘The Wizard of Oz,’ ” he said. “It’s our national masterpiece, so much a part of the American experience.”

An Update On How the Wizard Came To Oz With Producer RAMstar studios and film producer BJ Plott are off and running on their plans for a prequel to the Wizard of Oz. Based off a 1991 book “How the Wizard Came to Oz” by Donald Abbott, this film of the same name follows the backstory of Oscar Diggs, exploring his early life on through his introduction to the world of Oz. RAMstar has high aspirations on who they want start this franchise with, having spoken to representatives for such actresses as Amy Adams and Margot Robbie (as the good and wicked witches respectively), and are in pursuit of trying to sign Nathan Fillion as the wizard himself.

“There are a lot of actors that would best suit the role. But for me, I feel Nathan is the best choice. I love his show Castle. That character is similar to the wizard.”

Also, to better match the content of Abbott’s book and to expand its audience, Plott and RAMstar have decided to go with a PG-13 rating. With that said, they’re clearly going for a darker version of Oz within its mystical nature. “As for being dark, we’re thinking something similar to Harry Potter or the Gotham TV show,” Plott pinpointed.



Oz in the News 10.18.16


Smithsonian Launches Kickstarter for “The Wizard of Oz”’s Ruby Slippers Conservation The Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History is heading down the Yellow Brick Road on a Kickstarter campaign to fund the conservation and display of Dorothy’s Ruby Slippers, made famous by the official landmark 1939 film The Wizard of Oz. The Ruby Slippers have become one of the most iconic artifacts in film history and one of the most asked about objects at the Smithsonian. They have been on view at the museum for three decades, and as a Smithsonian cornerstone, they are deserving of special care and attention as a beloved icon to so many. Launching Oct. 17, the museum’s Kickstarter goal is $300,000. The funds will be used for immediate conservation care and a new, state-of-the-art display case designed to protect them from environmental harm and slow their deterioration. Future plans call for the Ruby Slippers to move into a new exhibition on American popular culture, scheduled to open in 2018. A successful campaign will ensure that millions more people can enjoy the Ruby Slippers for many generations to come. The public can back the project on the Kickstarter page,si.edu/kickstarter, and can follow the campaign on social media using the hashtag #KeepThemRuby. The campaign ends Nov. 16.

Ruby Slipper Rescue! Smithsonian Launches Kickstarter to Help Restore, Conserve Famed Shoes Movie props generally aren’t made to last past the end of filming, the Smithsonian’s Kickstarter says. Now the red shoes are fading, and some of the threads holding the once-glittering sequins have broken. Urging donors to #KeepThemRuby, the campaign page explains that the money raised will be used not just to restore the ruby slippers, but also to protect them from future environmental harm. They’ll be conserved in a state-of-the-art display case to slow deterioration. While the Smithsonian is federally funded, federal appropriations provide funding only for the Smithsonian’s operating budget and to “support core functions, such as building operations and maintenance, and safeguarding the collection,” according to the Kickstarter page. The Kickstarter will be live for just 30 days. The deadline is in place to ensure the slippers will be ready to be displayed in the new multimedia exhibition titled “On With the Show” in 2018, according to the site.


Oz in the News 10.12.16


New WIZARD OF OZ Prequel In Development, Based On HOW THE WIZARD CAME TO OZ RAMstar Studios has announced that they planning a Wizard of Oz prequel film, based on the 1991 novelization “How the Wizard Came To Oz”, by author Donald Abbot, who is also penning the film’s script. The film will be directed by Cole S. McKay, who has done work on films such as Cloverfield and Transformers: Dark Of The Moon. Similar to the 2013 Disney film, Oz the Great and Powerful, the film will explore how circus stuntman Oscar Diggs was whisked away to the land of Oz and how he became the “wizard” encountered by Dorothy in the famous story, The Wizard of Oz. You can check out a plot synopsis below, along with a few promotional posters and an interview with Abbot discussing the film! The film is fully funded with a budget of $35M. They’re currently working on casting and have reached out to Nathan Fillion to take up the role of the Wizard. Filming locations for How The Wizard Came to Oz currently include Los Angeles and Australia.

Take pride in our literary history Rummaging around our iPad the other day, I stumbled across a site for the 10th Annual Wamego “Oztoberfest Festival.” Wamego is a remote town in Kansas about the size of Zeeland. The only connection to the timeless “Wizard of Oz” story seems to be its location in tornado alley. It was a tornado, you recall, that doinked Dorothy on the head with flying debris, launching her on a fantasmical journey to the Land of Oz. It apparently doesn’t take much of a connection to create a festival. Where the story was actually penned is a detail lost to history, but it is no stretch of the imagination to believe that inspiration was drawn every bit as much, if not more, from Macatawa as from Chicago. Picture the exotic castle and grounds at Castle Park, the wooden boardwalks resembling yellow brick roads, the majestic hotels at the mouth of the harbor, the dense and mysterious Waukazoo Woods, and the Jenison Amusement Park where balloon flights were a weekly attraction. Baum’s time in Macatawa and Holland was full of fodder for the author’s imagination.


Oz in the News 10.11.16


A look at “Chasing Rainbows,” the story of Judy Garland, now playing at The Goodspeed  On this edition of “Nyberg,” the couple behind Goodspeed’s now-playing “Chasing Rainbows” joins Ann at the table. It’s the story of Judy Garland as a child actress, up through the point where she lands the part of Dorothy in “Wizard of Oz.” Creator and producer Tina Marie Casamento brought in famed Judy Garland historian and author John Fricke and over a period of seven years, they have put together this musical production which will play through Thanksgiving Day weekend. Here’s a glimpse of the history behind this production from two self-proclaimed musical theater geeks. For more information on “Chasing Rainbows,” go to www.goodspeed.org.

Oz in the news 10.10.16


NBC’s ‘Emerald City’ gives Dorothy a gun and sends her off to a very different Oz NBC unveiled its long-gestating limited series “Emerald City” at New York Comic-Con on Saturday, showing half of the two-hour special set to debut Jan. 6. The show sports a decidedly current, “Games of Throne-ish” vibe. As the action sweeps across epic vistas in a land before time, it offers up incantations, scheming and deadly serious quests — all while riffing on mainstay L. Frank Baum elements. In this version, ‎Dorothy (Adria Arjona‎) ends up in Oz‎ after crashing her police car during a stormy night in Kansas. She has killed a witch, but rather than colorful rejoicing Munchkins, she is greeted by a somber Native American-style tribe that reasons which soon become clear, is displeased with her unwitting act. They exile her from their land, though not before naming her German shepherd Toto — dog in Munchkinese, natch‎. Banished, Dorothy sets out to find the wizard whom she’s of course been told can get her home (some things don’t change). Meanwhile, in the heart of the Emerald City, its ruler, the Wizard (Vincent D’Onofrio), is tightening his grip on power, providing a political current most don’t associate with the Baum books. Another departure from the original tale is the witches, who hold court in front of large harems, plotting against perceived enemies. There’s also a Red Woman — or,  at least, a woman in red — a witch that threatens Dorothy early on.‎

Oz in the News 10.7.16

24p1-previewVeteran Columbia scenic designer checks out The Wizard of Oz at State Museum Being among the first to see the South Carolina State Museum (SCSM)’s transformation into the Land of Oz and to view the lively 14-minute 4-D movie, abbreviated from MGM’s 1939 classic movie, The Wizard of Oz, gave veteran Columbia artist and scenic designer Christian Thee double déjà vu. Theatre introduced Thee to Margaret Hamilton, and he became friends with the actress who played the Wicked Witch of the West. Thee was the scenic designer on a production of Here Today at Poinciana Playhouse in Palm Beach, Fla., in which Hamilton had a leading role. “We became friends. My design room was close to the dressing room she shared with Vivian Vance. She even asked to meet my mother who was down for one of the performances. For the rest of her career, Mrs. Hamilton reminded anyone who brought the witch subject up that she had done a lot of other work before—and after that role,” Thee said.

Oz in the News 10.6.16


Garden of Oz  In 1991, Hollywood resident Gail Cottman purchased a small plot of land directly beneath her Hollywood Hills abode. Originally intended to house a patch of roses, Cottman’s flower garden soon grew into something much more spectacular, and magical, than she could have ever imagined. To build her garden, Cottman’s contractor, Manuel Rodriguez, placed her roses in a bed of concrete. Noticing the dullness of the cement, Rodriguez decorated the concrete with tiles and beads to brighten it up. When Cottman noticed this new flowerbed design, it reminded her of one of her favorite movies, The Wizard of Oz, whose concept of “everyone is their own wizard” had inspired her throughout her life. She used this inspiration to take her project to the next level, devoting her entire garden’s decor to “Munchkinland,” a plant-filled garden dedicated to the Land of Oz. Weaving through trees and shrubs, the yellow-tiled path twisting through the Garden of Oz forms the “Yellow Brick Road,” which directs the rare visitor through a landscape of thousands of shining tiles. Featuring a crystal ball, the “Wall of Toys,” and a mailbox where you can send a letter directly to Oz, this folk art project features hundreds of plants, tiled staircases, and towering mosaics.


Celebrate Judy Garland at the London Palladium with a 50th anniversary spectacle  Held on the 15 October, experience never before seen and unique footage shown of Judy performing and singing her greatest hits come together with a live orchestra to accompany her magical voice and recreate her classic arrangements. On a featured live screen, hear and see Judy sing her iconic songs such as Somewhere Over The Rainbow, Once In A Lifetime, Almost Like Being In Love, Come Rain Or Shine alongside rare home videos and photographs from her extraordinary life.  This special concert will also be complimented by a brand new and exclusive exhibition of over 30 pieces across Judy’s costumes, dresses and memorabilia from her career, on loan from Judy’s son, Joey Luft. Set across two floors, at the Palladium, it features costumes that haven’t been exhibited before in the UK. The show will be hosted and narrated by Radio 2’s Leo Green who will share the stories behind the songs and career of one of the 20th century’s most iconic performers.