Monthly Archives: May 2014

Oz in the News 5.28.14

imgID6486283Pickering Parish Church holds Wizard of Oz flower festival  Pickering Parish Church has been transformed into a film set for The Wizard of Oz-themed festival of flowers. Running until Sunday, June 1, the event is one of the biggest in the north of England. The vicar, Father Antony Pritchett, said the whole community had helped to create the festival. “Everyone has come together to transform the church with amazing displays telling L Frank Baum’s famous story,” he added. “The Youth Group have created the Emerald City with plants, lights and jewels, and the three schools have created displays, along with the Brownies, Guides and Cubs.” Father Antony said some of the country’s top flower arrangers and designers has also taken part, many of them Chelsea Medal winners.

Bellarine Theatre Co. Performing ‘Dorothy Meets Alice’  With music by Karl Jurman, the book and lyrics were penned by Joseph Robinette, best known as a Tony Award nominee for the libretto of “A Christmas Story, the Musical.” “A young boy,” said Bellarine founder and artistic director Jessica Lynn Evans, “forgot about a book report that was due.” So the boy, Judson, scrambles at the last moment. Instead of reading a book on the approved list, he decides to watch the movie version of “Wizard.” Alas, his father tells him it is bedtime so he tries to read “Alice” by flashlight under the covers instead. But he falls asleep and soon dreams of a weird combo of the two classics. “Pity poor Judson, the young hero of ‘Dorothy Meets Alice, or the Wizard of Wonderland,’” wrote Michael Summers of the Fort Wayne Reader. “As if dealing with one bizarre world isn’t headache enough, he has to deal with two.”

Oz in the News 5.26.14

537ffef86d0ad.imageAbingdon businesses getting in on Emerald City fun with Oz themes “Abingdon, like Oz, is a very special place,” said Kevin Costello, director of the Abingdon Convention & Visitor’s Bureau, in a written statement. “It is wonderful to see our shops and restaurants getting in to the spirit of Barter’s big summer musical and offering fun Oz-themed promotions all along our red [not yellow] bricked sidewalks downtown. This promises to be a magical summer in Abingdon.”

What Investors Can Learn From the ‘Legends of Oz’ Failure  There’s a sketchy backstory to the film’s production that’s risen to the level of finger pointing and conspiracy theories. All we can say for sure is that Legends of Oz was largely funded by six-figure contributions from individual investors. At least one report says the producers raised $100 million for the movie and at least two sequels by cold-calling prospects. Alpine Pictures’ Summertime Entertainment division produced the movie in concert with India’s Prana Studios. Clarius Entertainment distributed Legends of Oz, but apparently without offering enough support to draw a meaningful audience. estimates marketing and distribution spending at just $15 million for a movie that cost $70 million to produce. Legends of Oz had grossed just $7.2 million worldwide heading into the long weekend.

Wizard of Oz coming for kids  Actress-director Li Xinling led her Xinling Theater to present a modern take on the classical work, The Wizard of Oz, which will be staged from May 30 to June 2 in Beijing’s Fenglan International Small  Theater, to celebrate the upcoming International Children’s Day. Based on the novel, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by L.Frank Baum and The Wizard of Oz, a 1939 American musical fantasy film, the play will have actors interact with multi-media installations, creating a dreamland for both adults and children, according to the director. Young Chinese composer Ding Ke has composed over 20 original works for the show. Before the show, the production team has also invited parents to write letters to their children, which will be read after the show.

Oz in the News 5.24.14

Wizard_of_Oz_2L. Frank Baum’s Wonderful Land of Oz  Baum’s novels introduced several interesting concepts to young readers, such as robots and cyborgs, and also included a number of extremely progressive elements. The lead characters for each novel are young women who are placed in perilous situations and escape through their wits. Tip/Ozma presents an interesting case in and of itself, as the character shifts genders from male to female. Additionally, Baum shows off armies composed entirely of women, with female commanders. Baum seems to have been heavily influenced by the politics of his mother and wife, and notably wrote in the defense of women’s suffrage a full two decades before women had the right to vote in the United States.

Oz in the News 5.22.14

1400724537001-prison-wizard-of-oz3Prison of Oz: Staying human in an Ohio Prison  There may be no tougher crowd in the world than a room filled with inmates and guards. These people are hard by definition and necessity. On Tuesday they sat waiting for the curtain to rise on the prison stage. When it did, there was Dorothy, a 6-foot-4-inch African-American man doing eight years in the Ross Correctional Institution in Chillicothe. Dorothy wore braids and a blue dress and Toto was sitting by her side. The sniggering and eye-rolling began immediately, then it turned louder and more derisive. Dorothy, something of a diva, let the laughter subside. Then she started to sing with a voice of resounding beauty about a land she once heard of in a lullaby, about chimney tops and lemon drops and wanting to fly away. “Why oh, why, can’t I?” The crowd instantly grew quiet.

Festival celebrates ‘The Wizard of Oz’  For the 39th consecutive year, the Judy Garland Museum in Grand Rapids, Minn., is celebrating the entertainer and her timeless film, “The Wizard of Oz,” during its week-long Wizard of Oz Festival, taking place June 10-15.  In recognition of the 75th anniversary of “The Wizard of Oz” film and the movie’s enduring heritage, this year’s festival, formerly the Judy Garland Festival, includes a number of special events. Grand Rapids is the birthplace of Judy Garland. Kicking off this year’s festivities is the opening of a new “Wizard of Oz” exhibit at the Judy Garland Museum. The exhibit includes 3,000 items related to the movie, including the carriage that heralded Dorothy and her friends into the Emerald City, an original Winkie Guard spear used at the Wicked Witch of the West’s castle, Dorothy’s Adrian-designed 1938 pinafore test dress, Oz set design watercolors from 1938-39 and original movie theater lobby cards.

Abingdon to “goes to Oz” with Barter  A town-wide celebration is happening in Virginia as Abingdon goes to Oz with Barter Theatre! “The Wizard of Oz” begins Saturday May 17 and local businesses are getting in on the fun with limited time Oz themed products, food and drink! Barter Theatre’s Yellow Brick Road Partners range from Jeannine’s Fabric Store (with Wizard of Oz themed prints) to Pop Ellis’ Soda Shoppe (featuring the Munchkin Lunchkin), and everything in between. Bob’s at Barter—the newly renovated eatery at Barter Stage II—will feature, among its many tasty offerings, ruby red cookies and treats from the lollipop guild created by Anthony’s Desserts. Babycakes Cupcakery and Unique Eats will feature Ruby Red Slipper Cupcakes, a red velvet cake cupcake with glittery red icing. It’s sure to please. Figaredo’s is offering an Emerald City Pizza, a delicious green pizza with pesto sauce. Bonefire Smokehouse is offering a special “We’re not in Kansas Anymore” BBQ. Abingdon Olive Oil Company is partnering with locally owned restaurants in town with their The Oz Couple, pairing Ruby Red Grapefruit infused Olive Oil with Red Apple Balsamic Vinegar. For adults, the Peppermill is offering a Flying Monkey Cocktail with banana liqueur and the Tavern is offering a Good Witch and a Bad Witch, the latter made with absinthe. On the retail side, Mallory Fine Art invites the public to view the “Over the Rainbow” fine arts exhibit featuring original works by regional artists, and The Glass Peacock is selling beautiful hand-made Ruby Red Slipper Sun Catchers and Charms.

‘Wizard of Oz’ costume party and concert to kick of Juan de Fuca Festival of the Arts in Port Angeles  California festival band Poor Man’s Whiskey will perform its bluegrass-flavored cover set, titled “Dark Side of the Moonshine,” as the classic film starring Judy Garland is shown as a backdrop. The match between the music of Pink Floyd’s 1973 album, “Dark Side of the Moon,” and the visual storytelling of the classic “Wizard of Oz” film was first noted in the press by the Fort Wayne [Ind.] Journal Gazette in 1995 and has a growing following, said Dan Maguire, festival director. Even Turner Movie Classics cable channel has aired a version of the film and music edited together, Maguire said. “Some people say it’s really uncanny. It has become a huge phenomenon,” Maguire said of the match between the movie and the music. Partygoers are urged to dress as their favorite “Wizard of Oz” character.

Choctaw casino player wins $1 million jackpot on Wizard of Oz slot machine  Texas native Dorothy was visiting the Choctaw Casino while her husband was on a business visit in Durant when she was drawn to a particular machine because of the THE WIZARD OF OZ slot theme. It worked out in her favor. Dorothy played about $40 on the machine before she hit the massive jackpot. After the winning spin, she was nearly speechless, and could only express her joy with, “Holy cow!” When asked how she would spend her winnings, Dorothy responded, “No idea. I’m still in shock.”

Oz in the News 5.21.14

AR-140518845Memorial lanterns float down Mississippi  The nearly 300 decorated memorial lanterns that were launched in the Mississippi River on Saturday, May 17, at the James O’Donnell Funeral Home’s fifth annual Memorial Lantern Float honored both recently-deceased family members and some who had passed away in previous years. As they gathered in Nipper Park on the riverfront, several people were taking pictures of the lanterns they decorated before turning them over to the O’Donnell staff to be launched in the river. One lantern honored Ruth Duccini, who had gained fame in 1939 as a villager munchkin in the “Wizard of Oz” movie. She was the last surviving female munchkin when she died Jan. 16, 2014, in Las Vegas. Her lantern was dedicated to “great-granny” by Jared Duccini, 6, who recently moved to Hannibal with his mother, Stacy Duccini.

Oz in the News 5.20.14

BCBG_GoodWitch_1_t600Local Designers to Design Wizard of Oz Doll Costumes for Charity Designers such as Sue Wong, Trina Turk and the gang at BCBGMaxAzria and Herve Leger, are partnering with Warner Bros. Consumer Products and Tonner Doll Co. in New York to create one-of-a-kind looks based on some of the”Wizard of Oz” characters. The looks will be modeled by Tonner’s 22-inch dolls. The dolls will be on display starting Sept. 4 at the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York before they are auctioned off on eBay Giving Work. Funds raised will be donated to Habitat for Humanity’s work to create decent, safe, and affordable housing for low-income families.

‘The Patchwork Girl of Oz’ opens Memorial Day weekend  Pacific Dance Ensemble (PDE) is gearing up for “The Patchwork Girl of Oz,” opening Memorial Day weekend, May 23, 24 and 25, at the Newport Performing Arts Center. Performances are also scheduled for Friday, May 30, Saturday, May 31 and Sunday, June 1. “The Patchwork Girl of Oz” features guest narrators Khloella Brateng and Mary Eastman. Special effects and lights are designed by Ernest Brown, and PDE director Nancy Mittleman has written an original adaptation of L. Frank Baum’s book, “The Patchwork Girl of Oz.”

Oz in the News 5.17.14

Leaving his Bel-Nor home for the 23rd annual Wizard of Oz festival on Sept. 15, 2004, Mickey Carroll leaves behind a relic from his vaudeville past. An oil pastel dated 1934 was made as a publicity poster for Carroll when he was 11 years old and appearing with a song and dance troupe at the Orpheum Theater in Memphis.

Leaving his Bel-Nor home for the 23rd annual Wizard of Oz festival on Sept. 15, 2004, Mickey Carroll leaves behind a relic from his vaudeville past. An oil pastel dated 1934 was made as a publicity poster for Carroll when he was 11 years old and appearing with a song and dance troupe at the Orpheum Theater in Memphis.

Jury sides with caretaker in ‘Wizard of Oz’ actor’s estate case  St. Louis County jurors returned a quick verdict in favor of “Wizard of Oz” actor Mickey Carroll’s caretaker on Friday, rejecting claims that she owed money to his estate. Carroll’s nieces and nephews alleged the woman, Linda Dodge, took advantage of him and isolated him from family while enjoying meals, trips and other perks that came with his fame. They had sought up to $249,000 that they alleged she drained from Carroll’s account through that manipulation, plus punitive damages. But after a week-long trial, jurors took less than two hours to decide in favor of Dodge on the claims of conversion, undue influence and breach of fiduciary duty.

‘Legends of Oz: Dorothy’s Return’  I’ll be honest; there hasn’t been an animated feature that I have been excited in seeing in a very long time. Not to say that I was camping outside of the movie theater to watch this one, but my love for the 1939 movie had me intrigued, and the huge names that were attached to voicing some of the characters. Have we reached a point where Dan Aykroyd and Martin Short are not A list movie stars anymore? I refuse to accept it. However, I was a little surprised on how much they were left out of the movie.

Oz in the News 5.16.14

utopia-posterLook who plays ‘Wizard of Oz’ in new film  Filmmaker Joel Gilbert has produced a new film, “There’s No Place Like Utopia,” scheduled for theatrical release this summer. “The film is similar in style to the highly successful Michael Moore films,” Gilbert told WND. In the film, Gilbert depicts Barack Obama as the wizard in the classic “The Wizard of Oz.” Keying off Dorothy’s conclusion in “The Wizard of Oz” that there’s no place like home, Gilbert analyzes the literal meaning of “utopia” to argue, “There’s no place like utopia.” Gilbert explained, “Dorothy blindly follows the yellow brick road, believing a magical wizard will fulfill her dreams. In the end, the wizard is a charlatan, a mere carnival hawker. He sends Dorothy to the witch’s castle where she is taken prisoner in the dungeon,” he said.

New Oz Film in the Works  I’m so excited to share that Yellow Brick Road, a screenplay that I’ve been developing for more than two years now, is finally on its way to the big screen!  It will be a traditionally-animated musical that tells the story of the grown-up Dorothy Gale and the former Wizard, Oscar Diggs, teaming up to defeat a new evil in Oz.

Wizard of Oz fans hope to restore Syracuse house connected to L. Frank Baum  The grand Italianate house, built in 1867, was the home of Baum’s sister, Harriet Baum Neal, and her husband, William Neal, a partner in the firm of Neal and Hyde, a dry goods firm downtown. (The Neal and Hyde building still stands at 318-322 S. Clinton St.) Cynthia Stanton Baum, the mother of L. Frank Baum, died at 678 W. Onondaga St. in 1905.

Just How Terrible is Legends of Oz: Dorothy’s Return? The Critics Sound Off  If you’re worth your salt in movie knowledge and critique, then you could probably tell that “Legends of Oz: Dorothy’s Return” was going to be rough just from the commercials. But just how terrible is it? Well, according to the critics, it’s about as bad as you can imagine a 3D-animated “sequel” to the original 1939 live action film could be.

Legends of Oz: Dorothy’s Return Review  Legends of Oz is so outdated it features Dan Aykroyd, Kelsey Grammer and Jim Belushi as the voices of the Scarecrow, Tin Man and Cowardly Lion, with Martin Short pulling double duty as the villain in Oz and back in Kansas. With that voice cast, one knows they’re not in Pixar or DreamWorks anymore. If in need of an Oz-quel, stick with Walter Murch’s darkly fascinating 1985 update.

Photo Gallery: Oz-Stravaganza Through the Years

Oz in the News 5.15.14

56a860ede8c541f3a66b72181899125e‘Over the Rainbow’ is named SongHall’s ‘Towering Song’  The Songwriters Hall of Fame’s (SHOF) Towering Song Award winner this year is “Over the Rainbow”—the historic pop standard written for the 1939 movie The Wizard of Oz and famously sung in it by Judy Garland. The award will be presented at the 45th Annual Induction and Awards Dinner on June 12 at New York’s Marriott Marquis Hotel. “Over the Rainbow” was written by SHOF inductees Harold Arlen and E.Y. Harburg, and published by EMI Feist Catalog, Inc. Among its many accolades over the past 75 years is its ranking as No. 1 on the “Songs of the Century” list compiled by the Recording Industry Association of America and the National Endowment for the Arts; the American Film Institute also placed it at the top of its list of “AFI’s 100 Years…100 Songs.”

Top 10 ‘Wizard of Oz’ destinations  2014 marks the 75th anniversary of the release of the much beloved film “The Wizard of Oz.” In celebration of this classic piece of cinematic history, and in honor of L. Frank Baum’s birthday on May 15, we’ve tracked down 10 “Wizard of Oz” destinations every Oz fan should visit…

Oz in the News 5.14.14

baum_house_001Syracuse Land Bank Could be Key to Saving House Where “Oz” Creator Met His Future Wife  The abandoned, boarded-up Syracuse house where Wizard of Oz author L. Frank Baum first met his future wife might finally have a brighter future via the land bank.  Syracuse common councilors Monday approved the sale of the tax delinquent house at 678 W. Onondaga Street to the land bank, which then could choose to sell it to the Baum Foundation.  The house has been behind on taxes since 2006, and has sat vacant for 15 years.   DiScenna says  the house is in generally good shape considering its age.  She says it would cost around $150,000 to just fix it up, and more to renovate it.  But she says contractors and others have committed to donating supplies, equipment, and time to the project. 

Audience to direct Oz-themed traveling show  “One example can be found at the beginning of the show, when the play’s narrator asks the audience what kind of pet Toto should be; a regular furry little dog, like the one in the novel and the classic 1939 motion picture, or should he be an oversized cow or an undersized chicken?” said Jamerson. “The narrator allows the audience to take a vote and decide what form they’d like to see the character take. It’s a fun way to introduce children to the extemporaneous nature of live theater, and it’s a great way to keep the actor playing Toto on his ‘toe-toes.’”

Loads of “Oz”-related projects have followed “Wizard’s” road  You can’t swing a cat without hitting a flying monkey – on screens small and big and on stage. ABC’s “Once Upon a Time” just finished its third season, much of it devoted to the green-tinted exploits of the Wicked Witch (Rebecca Mader); “Legends of Oz: Dorothy’s Return,” an animated, musical film sequel to “Wizard of Oz,” opened this past weekend; on May 28, the national tour of the Oz origin-story musical “Wicked” makes a triumphant return to Sacramento’s Community Center Theater after a sold-out run in 2012.