Monthly Archives: June 2013

Oz in the News 6.25.13

IMG_4295“Wizard of Oz” 75th Anniversary Coronado Celebration  Coronado Mayor Casey Tanaka today announced that the city will celebrate the 75th anniversary of the classic film, The Wizard of Oz with various charity events planned throughout the community. Kicking off the festivities, The Wizard of Oz will hold special screenings for one weekend only at the beautifully restored Village Theatre, beginning September 21, 2013. Proceeds from the citywide celebration will benefit local not-for-profit organizations and foundations. “We are thrilled to be a part of the 75th anniversary celebration of The Wizard of Oz,” said Mayor Tanaka. “Coronado’s historic connection with its brilliant author, L. Frank Baum, who spent a great deal of time at the magical Hotel Del Coronado and also lived on a quiet street in the Village of Coronado during some of his most prolific writing years, certainly makes this a very special event for the City.” Numerous activities are currently being planned throughout the city and may include book signings, lectures, exhibits, character look-a-like contests, a variety of charity events, including special screenings and The Wizard of Oz parade down Coronado’s main street.

OZombie is the latest Kickstarter from American McGee  OZombie is headed for Linux, Mac, PC and high-end tablets thanks to Unity and has players joining forces with the Tin Woodsman and the Lion against Scarecrow’s mindless army. The game draws not just on the first and most famous Oz book, but all 14 of Frank L Baum’s efforts – and run through the aesthetic and creative filter of American McGee and Spicy Horse, best known for Alice: Madness Returns and Akaneiro: Demon Hunters. Interestingly, OZombie is a single-player action-adventure but allows multiplayer once you’ve completed the campaign, with raids and tournaments playable with a number of characters.


Oz in the News 6.19.13

Oz4Huge Lego Wizard Of Oz Build Includes A Motorised Tornado  At last weekend’s Brickworld 2013 in Chicago, one Lego build stood out above all else, a 3D diorama that showcased virtually every major scene from 1939′s The Wizard of Oz. The detail is incredible — and it features a tornado! The team of 12 builders hailed from VirtuaLUG (Virtual Lego User Group) and three countries. They each worked on their builds separately then brought them together to display at Brickworld, where they won the 2013 Collaborative Display award. This build does some serious justice to the movie once described as Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer’s Technicolor Triumph. The incredible display measures around 10 feet in length and even recreates the sepia-tone from the film for the Kansas scenes, and then transforms into brightly-colored bricks for the Oz portions. Rounding out the build is the obligatory Yellow Brick Road (complete with ultra-violet lighted poppy fields) and a towering Emerald City. The attention to detail is mind-blowing. But, the really exciting part of this creation is the motorised tornado, engineered to rotate with two motors and a worm drive. More on the complicated technics behind his part of the build here.

slide_303298_2574641_freeJudy Garland In Art: Charles Busch, Tommy Tune Re-Imagine Hollywood Legend For NYC Benefit  Tommy Tune and Charles Busch are just two of the bold-faced names to contribute artwork inspired by Judy Garland for “Night of a Thousand Judys,” the annual benefit concert for New York’s Ali Forney Center. The pieces, which capture Garland in iconic “Wizard of Oz” and “Summer Stock” moments as well as other stages of her esteemed career, are set to be auctioned off at the June 17 event. Just added to the starry lineup of “Judys” performers are Tituss Burgess, Nathan Lee Graham, Rachel Shukert and Everett Quinton. They’ll join Broadway’s Carolee Carmello and Christiane Noll along with Manhattan cabaret stars Justin Vivian Bond and Molly Pope in performing classic tunes and lesser-known material from the Garland songbook. Also making their “Judy” debut are “Glee” Warbler Telly Leung, original Weather Girl Martha Wash and singer Madeleine Peyroux.

Oz in the News 6.16.13

birthplace-of-judy-garland‘No Place Like Home’ for Garland Fan  The Wizard of Oz star Judy Garland was born in Grand Rapids and her childhood home needed a fresh coat of paint. A devoted fan traveled over 10,000 miles to help out. Geoffrey Stallmann came all the way from Brisbane, Australia to help restore the home. Stallmann said he was a painter for 36 years, and this last job will usher in retirement. The house now sits next to the Judy Garland Museum in Grand Rapids. It looks like 1920 inside the home, but the exterior was in need of a little work. “I’d sort of like to think that I’ll look back and say, ‘Well, if they Judy Garland House is the last house that I ever painted then I’d sort of see that as a feather in my cap,’” Stallmann said.

Interview with Mila Kunis of ‘Oz The Great and Powerful’  “The first book that I ever read in English, past the alphabet books and the kid books, was “Return To Oz.” I came to America when I was seven and a half years old, but that was the first English book I read. Then, I was doing an interview two years ago – way before this movie was ever even in existence to me – and I was asked: “What movie do you remember seeing as a child that changed your life?” I said, “The Wizard Of Oz.” When you are nine years old and you see such a magical, beautiful movie with so many lights and colors, you really want to immerse yourself in it. It’s such a fantastical movie. I loved it.”

The metaphor of melting: Dorothy’s solution and a mother’s education  Earlier this year, I went to my alma mater middle school to see my daughter in The Wizard of Oz. Obviously, this would be a special experience for any parent whether your child plays Dorothy, a flying monkey or a munchkin. What made the experience unique was, in fact, the circumstances. After more than 70 years of plays, concerts, assemblies, musicals and promotion ceremonies, Wydown Middle School was awaiting the final blow of the wrecking ball. This was this theater’s swan song. The Saturday evening performance, the last of the last forever, was bittersweet. I was sitting in the dark auditorium of my own muddled youth, knowing that the building I had attended was already half gone — save this very theater. And on stage, there was my daughter, who has had the “theater bug” from a very young age. Through bright blue eyes and a wide grin, she conveyed to everyone in that audience how utterly delighted she was to share the stage in any capacity.

Oz in the News 6.11.13

b9922734z.1_20130607143311_000_gqf11k49.1-0For ‘Wicked’ star, it’s easy being green When actress Jennifer DiNoia was 5, her parents took her to see a musical production of “The Wizard of Oz” at New York’s Radio City Music Hall. Young as she was, DiNoia wasn’t the least bit frightened by the show’s villain, the green-skinned Wicked Witch of the West. (What actually scared her was the big-headed Wizard.) Instead, she was captivated by the sight of the witch flying over the audience. As far as the flying goes, DiNoia assures everyone that it never gets old. “It’s such a rush….You feel so powerful and you’ve got everybody’s attention, and when it’s over, it’s like a dreamlike moment in your life,” she said. If she could have any single superpower in the pantheon, flying is absolutely the one she’d choose: “I fly in my dreams. I fly almost every single night.”

King and animators talk China Girl and the world of ‘Oz The Great and Powerful’  “I would die to have that marionette doll. Unfortunately, I don’t think they can locate it because the direct and I were wondering where’s the doll because we want one. There were only two marionette dolls. They do have dolls of China Girls at Toys R Us and other shops. They even have a limited edition one made in ceramic.”

Grand Rapids’ Judy Garland Museum Is Still Big Draw  The 38th annual Judy Garland Festival begins later this week. Fans can follow the yellow brick road to catch a glimpse of Grand Rapids’ own claim to Hollywood fame- one that’s been very good to this small town in the northwoods. “Since the festival started about 40 years ago, we have generated millions and millions of dollars in publicity for this little town,” Kelsch said. And Kelsch says starting next summer, an even bigger collection of “Wizard of Oz” material will be on display here.

New Take on the Wizard of Oz in “The Trouble With Bricks”  Bard and Book Publishing is offering a unique twist on the much beloved Wizard of Oz, courtesy of author Derek Elkins. “The Trouble With Bricks” follows the adventures of Suzie Phipps, her brother Cleotus, and other odd characters that they meet as they weave through places and situations in an alternate reality and fantasy world.  “The Trouble With Bricks” is published by Bard and Book Publishing. It is available in several ebook reading formats on Smashwords and is also available for Kindle on Amazon.

Oz in the News 6.4.13

Tin%203DOff to see ‘The Wizard of Oz’ in 3-D and on IMAX  The theatrical stint will begin Sept. 20 and run for one week in IMAX’s 400 theaters nationwide, including those in museums. The movie, which will not appear on standard screens, will get a limited international release, but details are not yet final. Studio execs hope to come at audiences with an enhanced look at the yellow brick road: namely, digitally enhanced sound and images to bring Dorothy and company into 3-D and IMAX’s colossal format. Warner Bros. quietly remastered the film for months before bringing the reel to IMAX for a test run. “The sound was exceptional, the sharpness was exceptional,” says Foster. “But it’s the color that stands out. What they could do is truly amazing, maybe what people felt when they first saw it.”

‘The Wizard of Oz,’ ‘Bloodless’ and ‘Cinderella’ lead Dora nominations  “The Wizard of Oz,” “Bloodless: The Trial of Burke and Hare” and “Cinderella” are the leading contenders for this year’s Dora Mavor Moore Awards with nine nominations apiece. All three were named in the categories of best production and best ensemble as nominations for the 34th annual awards were announced Monday. “The Wizard of Oz,” which Mirvish Productions plans to tour after Labour Day, also got nominations including best direction by Jeremy Sams and acting nods for Cedric Smith and Lisa Horner.

7 Questions With ‘Oz The Great And Powerful’ Star Zach Braff  “Sam Raimi asked me to visit his office to discuss the project. We talked for a while and I guess I made him laugh, which helped. He showed me an animatic sequence where a couple of the movie’s characters run along a cliff. In the scene, they all jump off and Oscar screams: “What are you doing? Why are you jumping off the cliff?” At that stage, there was no line for the flying monkey, so I added a joke and Sam started dying with laughter. I thought to myself, ‘Great. I think I’ve got the part.'”

Oz in the News 6.3.13

article-2334437-1A19B444000005DC-114_964x478Goodbye Yellow Brick Road: The eerie abandoned Land of Oz theme park hidden at top of a North Carolina mountain  In the 1990s project Emerald Mountain was started by a group of kind-hearted volunteers who, with a little bit of the Cowardly Lion’s courage and the Scarecrow’s brains, have slowly restored the park. Weeds have been cleared from the Yellow Brick Road, the fountain and waterfall have been repaired and, proving that there really is no place like home, Dorothy’s house has been converted into a cosy cottage, which can be rented to holiday-makers. ‘Each summer we add something back to OZ. Sometimes it is original items returned to us from caring friends. One of my proudest moments was hauling back to OZ what I believe to be the very last balloon in existence,’ Cynthia Keller, who helps look after the park, said. Tourists are still welcome at the Land of Oz where they have the option of hiring a costume and going in search of the Emerald City. The park also holds a two-day festival each year, with a guided tour through the park, a picnic at the Kansas farmhouse and, for an additional $100, a whirlwind visit from Dorothy herself.

Oz-Stravaganza comes to an end  “I grew up on it and I love it. I moved here three years ago and I didn’t realize there was anything beyond the actual movie, and they got me in here three years ago, and they can’t get rid of me,” said Lise Yacco, Chittenango resident. “It keeps snowballing and every generation keeps falling in love with it all over again. I don’t think it is going to go away,” said John Fricke. To keep people coming back, next year, organizers want to break the world record for the most people wearing Wizard of Oz costumes in one location.

Tim Samaras’s Inspiration to Become a Storm Chaser: The Wizard of Oz  The deadly tornado that swept through Oklahoma Friday night – the second such disaster to strike the state in two weeks – claimed among its 13 victims three veteran storm chasers: Storm Chasers star Tim Samaras, 54, his son Paul Samaras, 24, and their colleague, Carl Young, 45.  Only last month, the elder Samaras spoke to the society’s namesake publication about his work, telling National Geographic that his interest in twisters began as a child, while watching the classic movie The Wizard of Oz, with its dramatic storm sequence.  At the time, he said, “[I] vowed to myself, ‘I’m going to see that tornado one day.’

Oz in the News 6.2.13

doc51a9fbb69a0559520626261Thousands Celebrate L. Frank Baum at Oz-Stravaganza  Jess Ackerman was out watching the parade today and knows how this community really bonds over this one weekend. “it’s kind of a coming together for the entire community to show that we are united under this one thing that brings us all together. The entire community comes out and all of us support it. A lot of us pitch in resources, a lot of resources, a lot of time to create this one thing. It’s more of a unity,” says Ackerman. A unity that this village wants to hold on to as they remember and celebrate the history of The Wizard of Oz.

Fans flock to Chittenango Friday  Twenty-one special guests from the original movie up to the most recent 3D release of “ Oz the Great and Powerful” are attending this year’s festivities. Caren Marsh-Doll a stand-in for Judy Garland in the 1939 MGM film, reminisced about some of her memories of the production for the movie. “I was a dancer and actress and was approached by MGM for the part of the understudy for Dorothy,” Marsh-Doll said. “Judy Garland and I would sometimes have lunch together in the commissary. I would have a chicken sandwich and a chocolate milk, but poor Judy was restricted to eating only a bowl of soup. If she ate anything more than that she was reported.”
Marsh-Doll said the set for the movie did not have the many conveniences as sets do today. “in 1939 there was no air conditioning. The heat from the new Technicolor lights was intense. I don’t know how Ray Bolger got through it.”

Oz-stravaganza celebrates a milestone year This is a milestone year, the 35th for Oz-stravaganza. The theme is “The Patchwork of Oz”, with special guests to help celebrate the story in writer L. Frank Baum’s birthplace. “We’re talking about the patchwork that Oz has created since it started in 1900 and gone in so many directions,” said co-director Colleen Zimmer. “Most people think it’s just one story and it’s not. It’s a whole trilogy,” explained fan Rhonda Arnsby.

Dancing the Yellow Brick Road  The story is immediately recognizable, especially in Grand Rapids, the birthplace of Judy Garland. For the first time, the Reif Dance Program is doing “The Wizard of Oz.” Of course, it’s a dance and not a play, so the story still had to be adapted. Fortunately, because of the wide spread fame of the 1939 film, most viewers will be only too familiar with the story, making an adaptation that doesn’t use words that much easier. But there will still be a few surprising elements, as this adaptation is based on both the movie and the original book by L. Frank Baum. A big fan of the book, Smith tried to incorporate a number of aspects from Baum’s original story, though there were some symbols that simply couldn’t be changed back. “For instance, in the film, they used ruby slippers. In the book, they actually had silver slippers,” said Smith. “We’re using ruby slippers in our story because there’s no way to explain to young children why she doesn’t have red shoes on without using words.”

Oz in the News 6.1.13

02301_insJudy Garland Spots James Mason In Rare 1805 Book  The original, unsigned and undated, artwork for a series of satirical prints, Symptoms of Drilling, signed on the published prints as  “Designed & Etched by H.B.H. Esq. 1805” without imprint, recently fell into my lap.  It was a gift to Cukor from Judy Garland, inscribed, “For George/ I ran across this book & spotted James Mason / Judy.” The book was likely presented and the message likely written c. 1953-54, the years that Cukor’s production of Garland’s star-vehicle, A Star Is Born, co-starring Mason, was shot and released.

5 Questions With ‘Oz The Great And Powerful’ Star Mila Kunis  “The costumes in the movie are beautiful and incredibly ornate. Everything is handmade and hand-stitched, but there’s a corset underneath every single one of them, so they are incredibly uncomfortable to wear. That’s the truth. They look beautiful on a mannequin and they look beautiful in real life, but they aren’t comfortable when you’re hung up on wires 30 feet in the air for 17 hours. You have to put everything into consideration. Wearing the costume for two hours was not a problem. Wearing it for 17 hours… Ouch.”