Oz in the News 1.12.13

Chinese TheatreWorld’s Most Famous Movie Theater, Grauman’s Chinese In Hollywood, Changes Its Name  During the 1940s Grauman’s hosted the Academy Awards ceremonies. The site has been used for numerous high-profile premieres, from “The Wizard of Oz” in 1939 to “Gangster Squad” last Monday. Actress Myrna Loy was among the first to memorialize her handprints in Grauman’s cement. The cast members of “Twilight” were among the most recent. After 85 years, the world’s most famous movie theater will finally be living up to its name. Chinese TV maker TCL has paid more than $5 million for the naming rights to the venerable Grauman’s Chinese Theatre opened in 1927 by showman Sid Grauman.

The Wizard of Oz: How one weird book spawned a whole pop culture  There’s no denying that Oz’s universe of munchkins, witches (wicked and good), Yellow Brick Roads, Emerald Cities, endangered innocents (innocence) and anthropomorphic characters like the Cowardly Lion, is odd. But it’s that very weirdness, its elusive and allusive ambiguity, its refusal to settle into one-size-fits-all didactic, that gives it the enduring vitality and porosity not found in, say, Tom Swift and His Photo Telephone or Horatio Alger’s Luke Walton (the Chicago Newsboy), to cite some other children’s texts from Baum’s time. There’s an Oz, it seems, to inform every era, technology and sensibility – be they those kids in the 1990s who synchronized the music of Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon with the 1939 Judy Garland movie, or the epic transmogrifications of Baumian themes in the panoramas of Chicago artist Henry Darger (1892-1973), or the way Sean Connery’s reading of The Wizard of Oz at the conclusion of the trippy sci-fi drama Zardoz (1974) serves as a decoder of sorts for the film’s hallucinatory logic.

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