Oz in the News 3.2.13

oz-great-powerful-world-premiere-02142013-12-600x450No place like Oz? Disney bets audiences are ready to return  Still, this “Oz” will be divisive. The more generous will view it as an important entry in the Oz canon, a visually stunning parable about the nature of faith and the politics of grass-roots revolution (seeking meaning in the role of Glinda the Good Witch, Michelle Williams said, she ad-libbed a quote from Che Guevara). The more skeptical will see a giant media conglomerate spending liberally on a familiar tale of becoming, and trying to recoup its investment with a famous title and premium 3-D ticket prices.

Former Penn wrestler cast as Munchkin in Disney’s upcoming ‘Oz’ film Mikey Witous filled out paperwork and gave them his height and weight. It wasn’t until he was back in his Granger home that he got a phone call from Hollywood telling him that he had been cast as one of the 21 Munchkin stuntmen — “Stunchkins,” as they called themselves, he said. There were 45 Munchkins altogether. “My favorite part was just going on to each set,” he said. “It was like going to a fantasy land. Seeing them laying the set of the Yellow Brick Road for the first time was amazing. It’s really neat knowing you’re going to be part of the story of (author) Frank Baum’s world.” Witous said his family and friends will join him Friday night for a premiere at Cinemark Movies 14 in Mishawaka. Witous hasn’t seen the film yet, he said, but he’s looking forward to it.

Denzel Washington Remembers ‘The Wizard Of Oz’  “I loved that movie. That was the big – that was the event of the year. To watch – are you kidding me? The Wizard. I was like turn “Bonanza” off. “The Wizard of Oz” is coming on. I mean, that was – you’ve got to remember, they only showed that, like, once a year. What was the guy’s name? Danny Kaye. Danny Kaye would introduce it. I mean, we couldn’t wait. That was huge. Huge.”

James Franco is the wizard in new Oz film, ‘Oz the Great and Powerful’ “When I met Sam, he said he wanted me to improv and come up with jokes in addition to being just the monkey‘s voice,” the former “Scrubs” star says. He told Raimi, “Are you sure? All we did on ‘Scrubs‘ for nine years was riff jokes, so I’m going to be like a fire hose coming at you. You have to promise you’re going to tell me when you want me to shut up.” Raimi gave him rein, he says happily. “There were times, though, when I pitched some elaborate tangent, and he’d be laughing and like, ‘Alright, that would be hilarious if the movie were called “The Monkey,” but it’s called “Oz,” so let’s tiptoe back to the script.'”

We Aren’t in the Old Kansas, Toto  Warner Brothers now owns that 1939 MGM film, and Warner is almost as well known as Disney for aggressively policing its copyrights. “The MGM film presented the story in a certain way, and it’s those things — the embellishments, the creative decisions — that Disney cannot use,” explained Bonnie Eskenazi, a leading copyright lawyer with no ties to “Oz the Great and Powerful” who has successfully battled studios on behalf of theJ. R. R. Tolkien estate. In other words, don’t get your ruby slipper hopes up. Here’s a guide to some of what you will and won’t see in “Oz the Great and Powerful.”

We’re Off To Read The Wizard, ‘The Wonderful Wizard Of Oz’  Here at NPR’s Backseat Book Club, we’ve decided go back to where the yellow brick road began, with the original fairy tale authored by a man named L. Frank Baum. In many ways it is a simple story of a girl who gets swept up in a Kansas cyclone and wakes up in a mystical land with flying monkeys, treacherous trees, scarecrows that sing and a scary green witch who rides bicycles. We hope this book will reach readers across the age spectrum, and we would love to hear from those who have special memories attached to the Land of Oz. We’re hoping that our trip down the yellow brick road will send you on a trip down memory lane. Did you sleep with the light on for weeks after seeing the flying monkeys? Do you have a pair of red slippers tucked away in your closet or a cherished vintage toy version of the Tin Man? Do you find that you can’t hum a certain song when you see someone on an upright bike with a wicker basket on the handlebars? Please share your Oz memories with us here. And if you or your kids have ever dressed up as a character from The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, we’d love to see you in costume. You can submit your photos here.

Lawrence Schulman to talk on Judy Garland at Reel Pizza in Bar Harbor  Schulman, who saw Garland in concert in 1965 and 1967, states that “Judy Garland (1922-1969) is often called the ‘world’s greatest entertainer.’ It is an epithet that misses the point. For, Garland was more than a mere entertainer. In the course of a career which spanned more than four decades on film, radio, record, stage and television, she earned the respect of her peers and the public, and as such earned a place at the heart of the classic period of the Great American Songbook. Garland was important to American cultural history, and the tabloid tumult of her short life should not overshadow an artistry of exceptional value. Exploring that artistry, and the life behind it, means exploring not just “the end of the rainbow,” but, above all, her contribution to a uniquely American art, that of the popular song in mid-century America. The icon Garland is less interesting than the artist Garland, who made song an intensely personal experience.”

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