Monthly Archives: May 2011

Oz in the News 5.31.11

Historian Believes if You Follow the Yellow Brick Road, You End Up in Peekskill  In “The Wonderful Wizard of Oz,” the yellow brick road leads to happiness. In this Hudson River town, it ends in a parking lot. For close to a decade, city historian John Curran has been waging an uphill battle to preserve a collection of crumbling golden bricks tucked near a commuter railroad station here that he believes inspired the yellow brick road in L. Frank Baum’s famous children’s novel and in the movie classic based on it. He has pored over maps, lectured visitors at the city museum he runs, lobbied the city council and even contacted the author’s great-grandchildren to convince the town that the 50-foot stretch of yellow bricks he’s trying to memorialize isn’t just a figment.

Andy Williams To Appear At Minn. Garland Festival  Singer Andy Williams will be a special guest at the 36th annual Judy Garland Festival in Grand Rapids. Williams will receive the Judy Garland Lifetime Achievement Award on June 17 during a gala dinner at the Wendigo Lodge. He also will sign his book, “Moon River and Me: A Memoir,” at the Judy Garland Historic House that day.

W.W. Denslow Nursery Rhymes for iPad  Another classic of childhood, Mother Goose, comes alive on the iPad, thanks to developer ustwo in conjunction with Atomic Antelope, who produced the impressive Alice for the iPad. Readers have to shake awake the sun to begin, and each screen continues the physical fun, mimicking old-time novelty books with plenty of swiping and swinging action. Drag Jack and Jill’s bucket up the well shaft and watch it descend again with a splash; propel the little piggy that goes “Weee Weee Weee” all the way home along a spiral path. The vintage illustrations are by W.W. Denslow (famous for his Wizard of Oz work), and the supersized text is integral to the experience, dominating each page and sometimes even becoming one of the interactive elements.

‘Emerald City’ proposed in Humboldt County  In the heart of southern Humboldt County’s prime marijuana growing region, an effort is under way to create a new city. It’s been dubbed “Emerald City,” a name as whimsical as the effort, critics say. Emerald City is the fictional capital city of the Land of Oz, featured in books and in the movie “The Wizard of Oz.” And in pot country, emerald can be a reference both to the green of the marijuana plant and the color of money. “It was sort of an irresistible temptation” to call it the Emerald City, said Jim Lamport, the man behind the effort and who owns a legal document service in Garberville. Southern Humboldt County is at the center of the so-called Emerald Triangle, a prime pot production region that also includes Mendocino and Trinity counties.

Oz in the News 5.28.11

Zach Braff Signed on for Oz The Great And Powerful  Dr. John Dorian emerges from the Scrubs of Oz. In other words, Zach Breff is going to be Frank, the loyal but under-appreciated assistant to Oz. According to Deadline, Breff is in final talks to play the role of a concealed assistant to magnetic circus conjurer who is treated as a powerful wizard after his balloon blows off track into Oz and the township want him to get rid of a Wicked Witch and bring peace.

The Wiyos will bring ‘The Wizard of Oz’-themed new songs to The Nelson Odeon  Here’s some good timing for the Schoenfeld family, Oz-Stravaganza officials and members of The Wiyos.  Throw in fans of acoustic music and lovers of the work of L. Frank Baum, too.  The Wiyos will perform at 8 p.m. Friday, June 3, at the Nelson Odeon, 4035 Nelson Road, Nelson. That’s the 100-seat theater with great acoustics owned by Linda and Jeff Schoenfeld.  The band formed in New York City — it took the name from of the toughest gangs in the Big Apple circa 1890, The Why’os — will bring what its publicist calls “some of their exciting new material loosely based on Frank Baum’s ‘The Wizard of Oz.’ ”

Surviving Munchkin opens ‘The Wizard of Oz’ school play  Standing 4 feet tall, the 87-year-old Margaret Pellegrini travels around the country to share her behind-the-scene memories from the movie. Pellegrini played the character of a Sleepyhead as well as a Flowerpot Girl who presented flowers to Dorothy during the opening sequence of Director Victor Fleming’s “The Wizard of Oz.” Anywhere she goes, children get excited when they hear the word Munchkin, Pellegrini said, asking for her autograph and pictures. “It will go on forever. Because the kids grow up, they get married, they have kids of their own and they raise them up with ‘The Wizard of Oz,’ ” she said.

Oz in the News 5.26.11

‘YellowBrickRoad’ Movie Review  First-time writers-directors Jesse Holland and Andy Mitton have crafted an intriguing setup that plays like both a campfire ghost story and a tragic social commentary: a neglected, post-Depression small town full of individuals with few options who seek a better life “down the road” and meet with a horrific fate — quite unlike Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz.

King lands coveted role in ‘Oz’  11-year-old thesp Joey King has landed the coveted role of China Girl in Disney’s “Oz: The Great and Powerful.”  King, best known for playing Ramona in last year’s “Ramona and Beezus,” recently booked a supporting role in Christopher Nolan’s “The Dark Knight Rises.” Thesp stars in NBC’s Amanda Peet series “Bent” and will soon be seen in “Crazy, Stupid, Love,” which Warner Bros. releases July 29.

‘Oz: The Great and Powerful’ gets release date: March 8… 2013  Hold on to your ruby slippers. Disney confirmed to EW that Sam Raimi’s upcoming prequel to The Wizard of Oz, called Oz: The Great and Powerful won’t be flying into theaters until March 8, 2013.

Andrew Lloyd Webber’s THE WIZARD OF OZ Cast Recording Gets US Release June 28th  The 2011 London Palladium cast recording of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s stunning new production of The Wizard Of Oz is currently available digitally and will be in stores June 28th through Decca Broadway in America. This 24 track set includes all the much-loved songs from the Oscar-winning movie score by Harold Arlen and E.Y. Harburg, plus new songs by Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice.

Wicked star Don Amendolia is off to be the Wizard  “One of the first and strongest memories I had as a toddler was being stood up in a chair and being dressed in a one-piece sunsuit with ducks on it. It was a special thing; I’d never seen it before,” he relays to the Straight on a call from Spokane, Washington, on the eve of Wicked’s opening there. “Then the woman across the street and her daughter came over, and the two mothers took us to the movie theatre in our little town. I remember where we sat, I remember the cartoon before the movie—everything. One thing that scared me was the green witch.…What I do remember was the Wizard, although I couldn’t have told you he was the wizard at the time. That was a day I’ll never forget.”

Big Heads, Big Talent: ‘The Wizard of Oz’ at Head Show   Lafayette School perform play using enormous papier-mâché heads to depict the characters.

Oz in the News 5.21.11

Oz Comes to Peyton Place  It’s a Friday evening in May, and my husband, Richard, and I are gathered with Tom Wilhite and Willard Carroll in their kitchen, on the outskirts of Camden, drinking wine and watching Willard prepare dinner. Tom and Willard cofounded the film-production company Hyperion Pictures in 1984, and they recently relocated to Maine. Although it’s our first visit to their new house, I’ve known Tom and Willard since our Hollywood days together, and Rich and I want to hear the story of what brought them to Camden. While Willard prepares dinner, he moves adroitly around the kitchen and sneaks the occasional peak at one of his favorite old movies, Bigger Than Life, which is playing on the monitor next to the stove. As I talk with Tom, my eye follows Willard. Above his head, I spot an original movie poster for the 1941 animated film Hoppity Goes to Town. And when we move into the living room, my husband points out an exquisite piece of art above the fireplace, a poster for a 1903 New York stage production of The Wizard of Oz. In the master bedroom, we discover a poster for the 1940 release of the French version of MGM’s Judy Garland classic, The Wizard of Oz. In the bathroom is another original film poster, this one for the 1957 theatrical release of Peyton Place.
Rich and I both have the same question:  “What’s up with all this?” Tom answers, “We collect Oz memorabilia.” Then he quietly adds, “It’s the foremost Oz collection in the world.”

Crystal ball from “Wizard of Oz” to benefit NJ Teen Arts Council  The giant crystal ball used by the Wicked Witch of the West was last seen in 1939 and had been thought lost by Wizard of Oz experts. Amazingly, it was recently discovered in a junkyard, found amongst the discarded remains of a defunct Hollywood prop house. Purchased with the hope of one day turning it into an enormous plasma ball, the bulky, hand-blown item sat unidentified for several years until the new owner, an amateur inventor, stumbled across photos of the item pictured in the Kenneth Strickfaden biography “Dr. Frankenstein’s Electrician.”

Relay for Life draws about 1,000 people to Westside High  The Wizard of Oz served as the theme for this year’s relay, which featured the motto: “There’s No Place Like Hope.” Many of the people walking around the track wore costumes from the classic movie.

Oz in the News 5.18.11

Michelle Williams picked for ‘Good witch’ Glinda in ‘OZ’  Disney has tapped Michelle Williams to play Glinda, the good witch, in Disney’s “Oz, the Great and Powerful,” Variety’s Marc Graser and Justin Kroll exclusively report. Williams’ casting completes the coven of three witches that Disney needed to move forward with the fantasy pic that starts shooting in Michigan in July. Williams’ character would team up with snake-oil salesman James Franco to face off against her evil sisters, played by Rachel Weisz and Mila Kunis, in a power struggle for control of the magical land of Oz. Sam Raimi is helming “Oz,” a prequel to “The Wizard of Oz,” from a script by Mitchell Kapner and David Lindsay-Abaire (“Rabbit Hole”). Pic could bow as early as fall 2012.

Production starts on ‘Oz’ film at Raleigh Michigan studios  Production on the $100 million-plus “Wizard of Oz” prequel “Oz” has begun at Raleigh Michigan Studios in Pontiac, the Michigan Economic Development Corporation announced today. “Oz” will be the first feature to film at Raleigh Michigan Studios, the former GM space that has been transformed into a massive 175,000-square-foot production facility with more than 360,000 feet of office space. The movie, which will also star Mila Kunis, is expected to occupy the Raleigh space through the rest of 2011.

Oz in the News 5.17.11

We’re Off to Illustrate the Wizard; The Wonderful Wizard of Oz  Blank Pages, an arm of the London based design agency Fridge Creative, would like you to help illustrate  L. Frank Baum’s classic ‘The Wonderful Wizard of Oz’.  The entire text of the book has been uploaded with blank pages interspersed throughout.
When you happen upon a  blank white page it is need of an illustration. Draw it up and send it off, if the editors like it you’re in.

Miss Oz-Stravanganza Pageant about more than just beauty  Each winner was donned with a tiara, sash, trophy and flowers and will participate in activities throughout Oz-Stravanganza. The crowned beauties will ride with the parade’s grand marshall, Judy Garland’s stand-in Karen Marsh-Doll. The girls will serve an important role in preserving the spirit of the community and the celebration of Baum, Pageant Director Lorrell Walter said.

Lake Middle School play combines Shakespeare with the “Wizard of Oz”   The premise for “Romeo, Juliet and Toto Too” is that a movie mogul is trying to make a cheap blockbuster with the help of a writer whose specialty is combining styles.  For this show, Dorothy and Toto take a wrong turn on the Yellow Brick Road and run into various Shakespeare characters such as Nick Bottom from “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” who needs a brain, Caliban from “The Tempest,” who needs a heart and Hamlet, who needs some courage.  Also along the way Dorothy and Toto encounter Romeo and Juliet and Macbeth, while the Wicked Witch of West must put up with Rosencrantz and Guildenstern from “Hamlet,” after her Flying Monkeys walk out on her.

Oz in the News 5.14.11

State legislators sing their way through Emerald City  State legislators dressed up like characters from “The Wizard of Oz” for their biennial Capitol Capers musical, titled “Welcome to Emerald City, IL,” Wednesday night at the Hilton Springfield.

Boston Pops Open Season With Help From YouTube  To open the Boston Pops’ 2011 season Wednesday night, Broadway’s Linda Eder will pay tribute to Judy Garland on stage with a little help from YouTube.  Amateur singers’ versions of “Over the Rainbow,” submitted to the Pops via YouTube or email over the past few months, will be part of a collage screened over the stage at Symphony Hall.  According to conductor Keith Lockhart, “all talent levels, all ages and various takes on things” are represented in the video. He estimates that the Pops collected “a couple hundred videos.”

The Royal Historian Of Oz: The Astrology Of L. Frank Baum  His Oz characters are complex and engaging. While each can be heavily associated with an astrological sign archetype they also branch off into subtlety. With a Taurus sun conjunct Uranus Baum’s writing is that of a man both pleasant and staid but with a will to innovate. Many of the technologies Baum wove into his stories came to pass years after he wrote of them.

What do the Wizard of Oz and sustainability have in common?  We have just begun work on a new project with ad agency JWT focusing on the inter-generational equity core of the sustainability agenda, and I have been playing with possible narratives. One that came to mind a few weeks back was The Wizard of Oz – and the more I wore the hermit crab hat, the richer the potential associations became.

Oz Fest in need of sponsors  It’s a well known event across the country for any fan of the Wizard of Oz. The 33rd annual Oz-Stravaganza in the village of Chittenango is a little more than three weeks away. Our Brad Vivacqua is in Chittenango this morning and has more on a special effort there.

On Location: Michigan gets ‘Oz’ wish as uncertainty looms over film tax credit program  Burbank-based Disney decided to proceed with the film after receiving assurances from state officials that its previously approved $40-million tax credit would not be affected.   That was welcome news to Los Angeles-based Raleigh Studios, which has just opened a $76-million studio in Pontiac, Mich., where “Oz” will begin filming in August. The production will fill up most of the studio’s seven stages.

‘Little Oscar’ inducted into Meat Industry Hall of Fame  Many people know the late Meinhardt Raabe for his one time role as the coroner in “The Wizard of Oz,” but Thursday afternoon he was honored for his life time role as “Little Oscar, The World’s Smallest Chef.”  The Wisconsin Livestock and Meat Council inducted Raabe into the Wisconsin Meat Industry Hall of Fame during a special ceremony at the Sheraton in Madison. Raabe’s sister, Marion Ziegelmann, of Water-town, and several of her relatives attended the event to accept the award.