Monthly Archives: June 2011

Oz in the News 6.30.11

‘Mellow Brick Road’ video competition  Congratulations to Reed Gauthier for winning the ‘Mellow Brick Road’ video competition. Reed is a freelance animator and illustrator with some exceptional talent. If you’re a fan of cartoons like Samurai Jack and anything Disney, you’re going to love his work. Check out his portfolio here! A big thanks to the many artists out there who entered the competition! I received some truly amazing pieces of work. You can find a listing of the top five entries below, and you can watch all 44 entries here on YouTube.

L. Frank Baum’s “The Wonderful Wizard of Oz” Narrative Film project   Inspired by some of our favorite family-oriented fantasy films – including such an eclectic array as the Harry Potter films and the Jeremy Sumpter version of Peter Pan, as well as the classic Henson films from the 1980’s such as The Labyrinth and The Dark Crystal, and Walter Murch’s cult classic Return to Oz – we plan to use a mixture of puppetry and CGI to bring the famous Oz characters to life.We have already filmed parts of the movie on greenscreen with a young actress named Mariellen Kemp portraying Dorothy Gale.

The Witches Of Oz on SYFY  Newcomer Paulie Rojas stars as gutsy heroine Dorothy Gale, a successful children’s book author who quickly discovers that her popular books, inspired by stories her grandfather and uncle once told her, are based on repressed childhood memories. It turns out that the wonders of Oz are very, very real. And while skies might be blue over the rainbow, they’re about to turn dark in New York city as the Wicked Witch of the West has come to town with a dastardly plan to take over the world. Boasting an impressive cast including Christopher Lloyd, Jason Mewes, Sean Astin and Billy Boyd, this is an exciting twist on a much-loved tale.

Andrew Lloyd Webber To Bring ‘The Wizard of Oz’ To Broadway  According to Bill Kenwright, who is co-producing the West End production currently playing at the London Palladium, recently told Playbill, “Since we opened, it has been difficult, if not impossible, to get tickets for any of the three weekend performances that always play to capacity; we’ve averaged just below 85 percent in a two-and-a-quarter-thousand-seat theatre, and returned a third of the capitalization just 12 weeks after the opening night. It’s a hit!” No timeline for the production has been set, but Kenwright did reveal that they’re in negotiations with “a major star” for the Broadway run.

Stephanie Mills is on the comeback trail at Essence Fest  “I was madly in love with Michael (Jackson). Me and about a billion other girls. The only difference is I got a chance to be around him and become really good friends with him. No one could have told me I wasn’t going to marry Michael. All the girls in class, one loved Marlon, one loved Jackie. I was always in love with Michael. So when I got to meet him and be around him, I was in heaven. It was a special time in my life.”

TheatreWorks USA Holds THE YELLOW BRICK ROAD Benefit, 7/25  Click your heels together “tres veces” and take a magical journey with THE YELLOW BRICK ROAD, an all-new salsa and merengue-infused musical inspired by The Wizard of Oz. In Chicago, the windy city, Dora Inez Garza is preparing for her fifteenth birthday celebration — a traditional quinceanera. Her mother and uncles have worked so hard to make it an exciting fiesta for her, but Dora, feeling caught between the expectations of her heritage and her desire to be like any other contemporary American teenager, doesn’t understand why the tradition is so important to her family. With a little help from a mysterious woman and her enchanted gift, Dora is swept up into a gran tornado that drops her (and her little chiuahua, too) in a magical world where she must slip on the ruby zapatillas and take a journey of self-discovery, dancing down the yellow brick road.

Looking back at Return To Oz  If not an outright porky pie, then the DVD blurb on Disney’s 1985 Return To Oz is, at the very least, misleading. “If you loved The Wizard Of Oz,” it promises, “you’ll love accompanying Dorothy on this second thrilling adventure.” A more fitting advert might be, ‘If you loved Mulholland Drive, but thought it could do with less girl-on-girl action and more talking chickens, you’ll love accompanying Dorothy through this scary ass mess of a film.’ Not quite as pithy, perhaps, but a bit more honest.

Oz in the News 6.26.11

‘Surrender Dorothy’ painted on a Beltway overpass — what’s the story?  As I traveled on the Beltway in the early ’70s near the Mormon Temple in Kensington, I was always amused by one re-occurring sight. On an overpass just as the temple comes into view, someone would always spray paints in big letters “Surrender Dorothy.” The line was from “The Wizard of Oz,” and I’m fairly sure it reflected the graffiti artist’s impression that the temple was reminiscent of the spires that Dorothy and company saw as they approached the Emerald City and their subsequent fear when the witch wrote the phrase in the sky. While I recognize that it was illegal to do that, I marveled at the writer’s ability to write it so boldly as to be seen from the highway. I’ve often wondered if anyone knew the story behind it or knew who the person was.

Sam Raimi’s Wizard Of Oz Prequel Puts Call Out For Clowns  Sam Raimi’s Wizard of Oz prequel likely will have a lot more than just clowns, but that’s what the production needs in the Michigan area, according to MichiganActing.com (via Coming Soon). Casting associates have put out a call for trained clowns age 18 and over for paid roles in what will be an origin story for the Wizard, explaining how he arrived in Oz years before Dorothy brought her dog, Toto, to the yellow brick road. Mitchell Kapner and David Lindsay-Abaire will write the screenplay, a prequel to L. Frank Baum’s classic novel.

A few select young ladies earn the DOROTHY DISTINCTION  “One of our Dorothys received recognition from (U.S. President Barack Obama) for her community service this year,” said historical society and Land of Oz executive director JoAnne Mansell. “We really feel that the Dorothy program is one of the best in the country.”  Potential Dorothys, though, have to be determined to get to the Land of Oz. The process requires many of the same things any other job would ask: paperwork, references and an interview. It doesn’t require the Judy Garland-look, and Dorothy can be any color. “We have girls from every walk of life there is in this town,” Mansell said, who loves the cultural diversity on the Dorothy roster. “Being African-American and also a Dorothy will help me face racial adversity,” Kyana said, “and, hopefully, this experience will help me grow as a person.”

Sequel of Wizard of Oz to premiere in Kansas  A film that suggests what might have happened to Dorothy after she returned from Oz will premiere next weekend in Kingman, where it was filmed. Director Hugh Gross says the film includes most of the iconic characters of “The Wizard of Oz.” The Hutchinson News reports that it tells the story of a 12-year-old girl named Elizabeth who lives in an orphanage in Kingman and has adopted the persona of Dorothy. Things aren’t going well in Oz, and the Scarecrow, the Tin Man and the Lion, travel back to Kansas to reunite with Dorothy. Gross declined to talk much about the story, but does promise a happy ending. It premieres next Saturday at the Kingman Theater.

Oz in the News 6.24.11

James Franco’s New Flick  “I never thought I’d play the Wizard of Oz,” Franco told us. “[But] I truly was a huge fan of the Baum Oz books when I was a kid. I read all of them when I was a kid, and they were some of the first books I read on my own, so I have been a fan for over 20 years.”

Danielle Hope on Jumping from Reality TV to the Lead in London’s The Wizard of Oz  “I’ve only ever seen The Wizard of Oz film twice, both times around Christmas as a young girl, and that’s probably been a benefit to me. What it meant was that I got my script on the first day of rehearsals like everybody else and read the lines as a 14-year-old girl in that situation without trying to imitate anything I’d heard or seen. It wasn’t about trying to copy someone or, on the other hand, trying to completely change it. It was, what is this character communicating, and how is this person communicating? I wanted to create a real person with real problems.”

As Coterie revisits ‘The Wiz,’ meet the man behind the curtain  “Charlie’s songs were very good, but Charlie was difficult to work with,” Brown recalled. “I had an apartment on East 46th, and I could get one with a terrace for an extra $5 a month. From the corner you could see the East River. Charlie came in and said, ‘Hi, nice pad you’ve got here.’ This was 10 o’clock in the morning and he said, ‘Have anything to drink?’  He wanted brandy. I didn’t have any brandy. I said would scotch be OK? He said that would be OK. So we sat there and started talking. He said, ‘I really don’t like meetings. If you have any ideas just write them down and send them to me.’ That was what collaborating with Charlie was like.”

Strange goings-on in Desert Opera Theatre’s ‘The Wiz’  Even in this twist on the “The Wizard of Oz,” one does not expect Dorothy to lose her phantom dog, Toto, or see a dancing Yellow Brick Road. And although many were undoubtedly prepared for the brainless Scarecrow and the heartless Tin Man, but what of the sissified Lion wearing leopard skin platform shoes, or the surprise twist on the identity of the Wiz, or the fact that at one point poor little Dorothy and her friends land in smack-dab in Watts?

Oz in the News 6.22.11

Danny Elfman to Score Sam Raimi’s ‘Oz’  Danny Elfman had a fairly high-profile falling-out with his Spider-Man and Spider-Man 2 director Sam Raimi while trying to score Spider-Man 2 — a falling out that prompted the composer to declare that the two would never work together again. Well, something happened, because now, in addition to scoring Tim Burton‘s Dark Shadows and Frankenweenie, Mr. Elfman says he will be doing the score for Oz: The Great and Powerful, and likely scoring The Hunger Games, as well.

“Wizard of Oz” yellow brick road in N.Y. town?  Author Evan Schwartz says they’re probably right. His book, “Finding Oz” examines the origins of Baum’s great American story. “It really came from the people, places and things that he experienced in his life,” he said. According to Schwartz, the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair inspired The Emerald City, and the dark days Baum spent as a young man in Kansas are reflected in the book’s opening scene. Schwartz said, “What he was really looking for, I think, was a place that contrasted with the colorful world of Oz, and he picked the flattest, greyest, grimmest place he’d ever been.” Curran said, “Those very intense experiences in his entire life show up in the book.” Curran’s convinced he’s got a national treasure in his backyard. Miller asked, “What if this isn’t it?” Curran said, “It has to be!”

Oz in the News 6.19.11

Judy Garland Dorothy Dress Sells For $910,000 Record Price  The Dress worn by Judy Garland when she played the role of “Dorothy Gale” in the classic 1939 film The Wizard of Oz has just sold for over $1,000,000 including buyers premium, a record price for Oz costume memorabilia. This is the real thing and something that only comes up once in a lifetime. The dress was estimated at a modest $60,000 – $80,000. The $910,000 price is just on the hammer and the total is expected to be 20% on top. The blue cotton dress with polka dot trim and ivory sheer puff-sleeved blouse was designed by Adrian the chief costumier for the MGM film. The blouse also contains the original blue ribbon neck orniment. No label was sewn into the top but the provenance was impeccable having been acquired by Debbie Reynolds an icon of the golden age of the Hollywood musical from MGM directly in 1970. The matching Blue cotton dress and pinafore with polka dot trim has a Handwritten label “Judy Garland 3955.” Worn by Judy Garland as “Dorothy” in the first two weeks of filming in The Wizard of Oz.

Wizard of Oz shoes, worn by Judy Garland sell at auction for $510,000  Today, at the Debbie Reynolds Auction of her costumes and Memorabilia held at the Paley Center by the auction house Profiles in History the “Arabian-pattern test ‘ruby slippers’ covered in red sequins and beads lined with red silk” worn by Judy Garland in the first two weeks of filming The Wizard of Oz sold for $510,000. These shoes were designed by the famous costume designer Adrian and had a hand-written label “10 W.C.C.”

Collection Gowns Bring Judy Garland To Life  The complete collection includes 18 pieces including the red dress Judy wore when she sang “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” in the 1944 film Meet Me in St. Louis. “I have things as early as 1941, two years after the Wizard Of Oz came out. I have a dress from Life Begins For Andy Hardy. I have things from Me And My Gal, Easter Parade and A Star Is Born. I have a Bob Mackie gown that she wore on the television show,” said collector Michael Siewert.

Graphic 45 Magic of Oz Scrapbook Collection  Graphic 45 presents a gorgeous new scrapbook collection inspired by the art of W.W. Denslow and John R. Neill featured in L. Frank Baum’s Wizard of Oz series.   Double sided papers, paper pads, chipboard die cut tags, and clings are arriving in stores now.   See Graphic 45’s website for more product and photos.

Father-Daughter Reading Streak Lasts Nearly 9 Years   When Alice Ozma was in the fourth grade, her family was going through a rough patch. Her parents had just split up, and her older sister had recently left for college. Ozma was suddenly spending a lot more time alone with her dad, Jim Brozina, an elementary school librarian. So Ozma and her father made a pledge: to read together every single night for 100 days. But after 100 days, they just kept going. Their streak ultimately lasted 3,218 days — spanning from Ozma’s fourth-grade year to her first day of college. On the last night, Ozma chose to read from the same book they’d read for their first father-daughter reading: The Wizard of Oz. “That was the single hardest thing to do,” Brozina recalls, “to read, choked up, tears in eyes — both of us. That was the most difficult, to stop it.”

Oz in the News 6.18.11

Finally, a memorial to Toto from ‘The Wizard of Oz’  “Toto is truly one of the favorite stars of the film,” says Mercedes Michalowski, director of the Oz Museum in Wamego, Kansas. “A lot of our requests are for Toto displays and gifts.” Like the International Wizard of Oz Club and like Cairn Terrier Clubs across the country, Michalowski began following Toto’s latest adventure on Myers’ Facebook page. She was relieved to learn that when Calabasas said no, Myers and Goldstein turned to Hollywood Forever Cemetery. Owner Tyler Cassity said yes. Enthusiastically. Then he donated a $100,000 V.I.P. plot near the remains of Johnny Ramone, Rudolph Valentino and Jayne Mansfield. Then he commissioned a bronze sculpture of Toto to crown the monument. It will be unveiled at 11 a.m., on Sat., June 18, before movie lovers, dog lovers and the offspring of L. Frank Baum, who wrote The Wizard of Oz, and Carl Spitz, who owned and trained Toto. (Rumor has it that a Munchkin will attend, too!)

Wizard of Oz Munchkin Remembers  One Munchkin from the 1939 Wizard of Oz movie traveled from Georgia to is celebrate the 36th annual Judy Garland Festival in Grand Rapids this weekend. In 1928, when Karl Slover was 9-years old he left his home in Budapest with the Original World Famous Singers and Midgets.

Wizard of Oz exhibit will visit Kalamazoo Valley Museum  On June 18th, the Kalamazoo Valley Museum will pay homage to L. Frank Baum’s novel by bringing The Wonderful Wizard of Oz to Kalamazoo. According to a press release, children ages two through 12 years of age are encouraged to participate in the 1,500 ft. interactive exhibit. Similar to Dorothy’s journey down the yellow brick road, children will begin their expedition on a farm and will be schooled in the 20th century ways of life. From here, children will be swept away down tornado alley and learn about the science behind nature’s most malicious disasters.  Upon entering the next room, children will be thrown into the fantastical world of Oz where they can help the Scarecrow, the Tin Man, and the Cowardly Lion overcome adversity while simultaneously becoming more aware of themselves by putting to practice the characteristics that will inevitably take root in the journey of life.

Think you know Oz, the Big Bad Wolf and the Little Mermaid? Think again. 3 children’s theater productions take new looks at familiar stories  Dorothy’s slippers will be silver not ruby when the marionettes of the Hole in the Wall Puppet Theatre bring their familiar problems to an infamous wizard. That’s because Artistic Director Robert Brock’s version of “The Wizard of Oz” opening Saturday is based more on the original Frank Baum “Oz” book than the beloved 1939 film with its Technicolor need for those flaming–red pumps. The familiar characters will appear at the end of Brock’s strings –– Dorothy the Tin Man the Cowardly Lion the Scarecrow some witches and one munchkin –– and the Oz storyline remains intact. However “it’s not a copy of the movie” Brock says. “For example in this ‘Oz’ the witch does not say ‘I’ll get you my pretty and your little dog too’ because it’s not in the book.”

‘Guitar Wizard of Oz’ to play at TPAC  Two-time Grammy nominee Tommy Emmanuel, who the late guitar legend Chet Atkins called “one of the all-time greatest guitarists on the planet,” will perform Sept. 13 at the Topeka Performing Arts Center. The 56-year-old, Australian-born Emmanuel has been playing guitar since age 4, learning the instrument by ear, with no formal instruction, and has never read music. By age 6, he was playing professionally in a family band that toured Australia.

Oz in the News 6.17.11

Famous Children’s Illustrations Expected to Delight Collectors  Perhaps one of the most well-recognized and loved characters of children’s literature, Winnie the Pooh, will be featured in illustrations highlighting the Bonhams and Butterfield auction in New York. One original Winnie the Pooh is expected to sell for as much as $150,000.  The 261 lots are on public exhibit from June 18 to 21 in New York leading up to the sale on June 22.  Enthusiasts will be greeted with drawings and illustrations by artists such as Ernest Howard Shepard (Winnie the Pooh), John Rea Neill (The Oz Books), Maurice Sendak (Where the Wild Things Are), Hilary Knight (Eloise), Garth Williams (Charlotte’s Web), Eric Carle, and many others.

Judy Garland: The Television Years  The Paley Center for Media will present the first comprehensive retrospective of Judy Garland’s career on television, celebrating some of the incomparable entertainer’s most notable, as well as most rarely seen, appearances in the medium. This series is coordinated and produced in association with the Film Society of Lincoln Center who will be screening Garland’s motion picture work July 26 to August 9, 2011.

Singer Andy Williams to be honored during Grand Rapids’ Judy Garland Festival  Young Andy Williams spent time in Judy Garland’s presence just after she stepped off the yellow brick road. As a teen, the pop singer was a member of the chorus for various Garland film projects at Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, where she had gone after she shed her sisters and built her solo singing and acting career. “Like everybody in the world, I thought she was the greatest thing,” Williams said in a phone interview from his theater in Branson, Mo. “She was absolutely wonderful.” Williams, 83, will receive a lifetime achievement award during the 36th annual Judy Garland Festival this weekend in Grand Rapids. He will appear for a book signing from 12:30-1:30 p.m. Friday at the Judy Garland Historic House and later that night will be honored at an event at Wendigo Lodge, where he will show footage of Garland when she appeared on “The Andy Williams Show” in the 1960s and answer questions.

Kansas City MC says playful ‘Pac taunts like ‘How’s Dorothy and Toto?’ sparked concept for ‘He’s a Mental Giant’ clip  Strange music indeed. In Tech N9ne‘s latest music video, “He’s a Mental Giant,” the Kansas City, Missouri, rapper puts a hip-hop twist on the 1939 classic film “The Wizard of Oz.” While Tech says that the clip’s concept came from director Dan Gedman, he also credits Tupac with helping to spark the idea. Of course, Tech hails from the Missouri city, not the state of Kansas, where “Oz” is set. Regardless, the “Mental Giant” clip shows Tecca Nina looking into a crystal ball as another incarnation of the MC wanders through a fantasy world. Throughout his journey, Tech avoids various pitfalls like lustful women and an alien air-raid before escaping in a hot-air balloon made of stone.