Monthly Archives: August 2014

Oz in the News 8.28.14

706-1Face Off: Wizard of Wonderland (Recap and Review)  Episode 6 of season 7 Face Off: Wizard of Wonderland, aka Oz Meets Wonderland begins with the ten contestants headed down to Sony Pictures Studios and saw a scene from Alice of Wonderland that looked to be the Mad Hatter’s tea party. While standing in front of the tea party setting, they learn that because of this year’s 75th anniversary of The Wizard of Oz, there will be a marrying up of the two worlds in this week’s challenge. Keighlan is very excited and as she says to the camera “I am in heaven because The Wizard of Oz is my favorite movie.” Unlike last week’s contest, the Oz Meets Wonderland spotlight is a team challenge. The remaining contestants paired up and and had create characters from The Wizard of Oz who have somehow wound up in the world of Alice in Wonderland.

Aberdeen Museum Highlights Wizard of Oz’s SD Connection as Movie Turns 75  Baum arrived in town in the summer of 1888, and moved to Chicago a few years later, in 1891. But, Baum managed to do a lot during his time during his time in South Dakota. He started by opening a store called “Baum’s Bazaar.” “Which was kind of a gift shop on steroids if you will,” Sue Gates says. “He had all kinds of exotic gift items and things that people around here just couldn’t buy in a normal mercantile store. So it was quite the fancy department gift store that he ran for about two years.” “He was also actually involved in professional baseball here,” Gates says. “He was on the, I guess you would call it the executive committee of a professional baseball team. We have a letter that he had written to a player negotiating a contract. It’s written on Baum’s Bazaar stationary and letterhead.”

Oz in the News 8.25.14

Kansas Dorothys with Gov. Sam Brownback. This year marks the 75th anniversary of “The Wizard of Oz” movie.Courtesy of Seward County Historical Society

Kansas Dorothys with Gov. Sam Brownback. This year marks the 75th anniversary of “The Wizard of Oz” movie.Courtesy of Seward County Historical Society

‘Wizard of Oz’ forever linked to Kansas’ legacy  For better or worse, the characters from Oz are so entrenched in American culture that when Kansans go visiting elsewhere they often are asked, “How’s Dorothy and her little dog, Toto?” “We have this love-hate relationship,” Jay Price said. “The Wizard of Oz is our default setting,” particularly when it comes to tourism. Many of Kansas’ western-themed attractions — such as Wichita’s Old Cowtown Museum and Boot Hill in Dodge City — were created in the 1950s and 1960s, Price said, when television and movie westerns were popular. But the Wizard of Oz — which debuted in theaters 75 years ago this month — had long before that become timeless. “We are stuck with it the way Georgia is connected with ‘Gone with the Wind’ and Austria is connected with the ‘Sound of Music’,” Price said.

Becoming Toto: How a Female Terrier Named Terry Became a Film Icon  It was the kind of moment that has defined the lives of many young performers and future stars. Abandoned by her birth parents, Terry had spent the better part of three weeks hiding under the bed of the German couple that had taken her in. Crippled by anxiety and shyness, life seemed like one big rug stretching endlessly ahead, and Terry — a 1-year-old Cairn terrier — was a carpet-wetter. But Terry refused to be defined by a weak bladder. She came out from under that bed, channeled her insecurities into her training, and just five years later she was on top of the world. No longer an insecure carpet-wetter but “Toto,” with a career-defining role in The Wizard of Oz , which opened in theaters across the country 75 years ago today and turned her into perhaps the most beloved animal in Hollywood history.

Westchester Kids ‘Follow Yellow Brick Road’ To First Wiz-Fest  With the help of the scarecrow, tin man and cowardly lion, three young ladies were granted their wish to sing “Wizard of Oz” songs karaoke style at the first Wiz-Fest in Peekskill on Saturday. The story oft told is that a 12-year-old Baum, on his way to military school in Peekskill, asked for directions and was told to “follow the yellow brick road.” “It’s a great story. I don’t know if it’s true, but I want it to be,” said Brian Snee, an associates director and chair of the Department of Communication Studies at Manhattanville College who recently moved to Peekskill.

Oz in the News 8.23.14

emerald-city_612x381‘Wizard Of Oz’-Themed Series ‘Emerald City’ Not Going Forward At NBC  NBC won’t be heading for Oz. The network has opted not to proceed with Emerald City, its 10-episode Oz-themed drama series, which had been ordered straight-to-series for next season. The project hails from executive producers Matthew Arnold, who originally conceived the idea and penned the original script, and Josh Friedman, who tweaked the pilot script and has been running the writers room. I hear after several backup scripts had been produced, there was a difference in vision between NBC brass and Friedman about what the show should be, leading to NBC’s decision to not go forward with it. Word is that Universal Television, which developed the project and is producing it, is still high on it and may shop it elsewhere.

Can CNY support two Wizard of Oz museums?  This week, the Lyman Frank Baum Foundation officially purchased the West Onondaga Street house from the Syracuse Land Bank. The foundation is planning for elaborate interactive exhibits at a museum called Oz Home. “It’s going to be beyond a museum. It’s going to be classified as one, but it will do much more. People can use their imagination,” says Oz Home Executive Director Kathleen Di Scenna. The foundation estimates the Oz home needs about $225,000 in renovations. It would be the second museum devoted to L. Frank Baum and the Wizard of Oz to open in Central New York. The All Things Oz Museum in Baum’s birthplace of Chittenango moved into a larger, permanent home earlier this year. Both museums have been fundraising, and some have wondered: Can the area support two separate Oz museums?

Oz in the News 8.22.14

5b2ab8025d807ce15860726f1fb392539271568e.pngWatch the Story Behind the ‘Wizard of Oz’ You Never Got to See  Decades before Mario Kart and Thor made it cool, Oz screenwriters Edgar Allan Woolf and Florence Ryerson — who were hired to take a pass at an early draft penned by Noel Langley — dreamed up the idea of a grand Rainbow Bridge connecting Earth to magical lands beyond. This bridge would provide Dorothy and Toto with another way into Munchkinland, one that wouldn’t necessarily involve an errant tornado. But the cost proved prohibitive, so the girl and her dog had a rougher trip to Oz after all.

It took some real wizardry to make ‘Oz’ effects  The special effects experts couldn’t just take a camera out to Kansas and wait for a tornado. They had to make one. “They tried a test first with a water vortex, and talked about rubber, and finally settled on cloth,” Oz expert John Fricke said. “They came up with a 35-foot-long muslin stocking that they wrapped around chicken wire to give it a conical appearance.” Gillespie rigged up a gantry crane, rotated by a motor, that traveled the length of the soundstage. The base of the tornado was fastened to a car below the stage, where the crew moved it along a track. The farmhouse, fence, barn and prairie all were done in miniature, and clouds were painted on glass. Wind machines and dust added the final touch. They filmed the tornado sweeping across the prairie from several angles, at distances, coming close to the camera and going away, Fricke said. “Once the (tornado) film was complete, they showed it as rear projection behind the actors,” he said.

At Tanglewood: Pops goes the ‘Wizard’ “It’s one of the hardest coordination things I’ve ever done,” conductor Keith Lockhart acknowledged. “You’re accompanying to something that doesn’t know you’re there. When Judy Garland starts singing, you need to be not too late, not too early the tempo keeps bobbing on you, so you’re constantly adjusting, pushing and pulling. It’s pretty exciting.”

Wizard of Oz’ look-alike contest at Bucyrus’ Bob Evans Farm  Visitors can tour the Homestead Museum and Gallia County native Jane Stowers Craddock’s “Oz” memorabilia collection of more than 1,000 items from 10:30 a.m. to 7 p.m. Her collection includes framed signatures of actress Judy Garland, autographs of the Munchkins, personal clothing worn by the Munchkins, movie posters, a life-sized Wicked Witch of the West and others.

It’s Still Popular Being Green: A Decade Later, ‘Wicked’ Continues to Be Catnip for Tweens  In retrospect, “Wicked” seems an early sign of the cultural clout — which is to say buying power — of a generation of girls (and now women) whose desire to see, and read, and sing along with stories about female empowerment has become a snowballing trend. “The Hunger Games” came along in 2008, and became one of the biggest media phenomena of the past decade. And, of course, “Frozen,” Disney’s animated blockbuster movie about two royal sisters with a complicated relationship, surely owes a significant debt to “Wicked,” and not just because Ms. Menzel gave voice to the heroine Elsa, with her snow-blowing superpowers and her megahit “Let It Go.”

Is My Geek Showing?: 75 years of ‘Oz’ I am obsessed with the witches of Oz, and it’s always been my personal belief that Glinda is the actual villain of the 1939 film. (If you want to get into more detail about my theories, get in touch with me! Contact information is at the end of the article.) But even though I’d count myself as a hardcore fan, there are bigger Oz geeks than me out there. For instance, if you’re looking to join a group of fellow enthusiasts, there has been a fan club – The International Wizard of Oz Club – in existence since 1957. This organization hosts events like “The Oz Club Convention,” where members meet up with other Oz fans, attend auctions, watch movies (like “Return to Oz,” the theme of 2015’s con), and, as their Facebook page states, “… otherwise hobnob with our fellow wizards.”

Oz in the News 8.21.14

p0253p1dThe Wizard of Oz: Five alternative readings  While some praise The Wizard of Oz for its spiritual insight, others have criticised it for ‘moral turpitude’. From the moment Baum’s book was published in 1900, ministers attacked it for its ungodly influence: in 1986, seven fundamentalist Christian families in Tennessee filed a lawsuit against the novel’s inclusion in the public school syllabus, arguing that it promotes the belief that human attributes are “individually developed rather than God given”. The group claimed that it is “theologically impossible” for a good witch to exist, with one parent saying: “I do not want my children seduced into godless supernaturalism”. Southern Baptists Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson attempted to ban the film’s broadcast on TV in 2004. Robertson claimed, “the Almighty told me that flying monkeys and witches are an affront to all good Christians.”

No Oz Fest this year in Tinley Park  There’s no chance to see the wizard this year in Tinley Park. The festival tentatively was planned for Sept. 19 to 21 on park district property south of the 80th Avenue Metra station as well as Veterans Parkway and some state land just west of the former Tinley Park Mental Health Center. Dave De John, organizer of the Midwest Wizard of Oz Festival, said plans now are to shoot for bringing the festival to the village sometime next year.

Rex Parker Does the NYT Crossword Puzzle  Everyone loves “The Wizard of Oz,” so building a theme around it seems like a good idea. And probably could be. I didn’t think this idea worked very well, though. Even more than yesterday’s, today’s theme just isn’t tight, clean, crisp. Dorothy wanted to go home … right? Am I remembering that right? To say that DOROTHY went to OZ to find a brain, courage, and a heart is to abbreviate the plot of the story in an absurd way. She wants to find those things *only* because of the three characters she meets on the way to OZ. In fact, when she sets out, those items are Not on her mind at all. So without the Scarecrow and Tin Man and Bert LAHR, this theme feels hollow, incomplete, weird. Nevermind that IBM’s Watson seems like it should be “artificial” intelligence (a real phrase) instead of ARTIFICIAL BRAIN (a phrase I’ve never heard) and that all ONE’S make me a little queasy. The DOROTHY / HEROINE bit in the middle is kind of a nifty trick. I wonder if HEROINE wasn’t one of those dumb-luck discoveries that constructors sometimes stumble into—a bonus theme-related answer you realize belatedly that you can build around existing themers.

Oz in the News 8.20.14

AuntEm.collage9 Wizard of Oz-Themed Vacation Rentals in Honor of the Film’s 75th Anniversary  You’ve seen the movie (maybe more times than you can remember!), and now you can be transported to Oz in real life. To celebrate the anniversary, we have a list of look-alike holiday rentals from HomeAway that will bring the classic movie to life. From a condo that shimmers like the Emerald City to a castle that’s the spitting image of the Wicked Witch’s home, there is a special destination for every fan.

Dorothy’s ruby slippers remain the holy grail of Hollywood memorabilia  Kansas City native Keith Holman, a costume designer in Los Angeles, has a special connection to the scarlet footwear. His friend David Elkouby has owned a pair of the genuine slippers since 2000. And Holman spent time learning the craft of costume beading from Stella Ruata, whose late mother, Aurora, worked for MGM and hand-sewed beads onto some of the slippers used in the movie. The women told him slipper stories, like how some of the first versions had to be redesigned because they were too heavy for Garland to dance in. In 1989, during the movie’s 50th anniversary year, Holman considered obtaining a license to replicate the slippers — “because that’s as close as most people will get” — but he never finished the process. Like any other lover of Oz, he’d love to own a pair, but few people can afford the million dollar-plus price tag. So he has started collecting other movie memorabilia, including one of the oil cans Jack Haley used as the Tin Man. Holman is now in discussions with Union Station and the American Jazz Museum to display part of his collection in his hometown in coming months.

Long and winding Yellow Brick Road to icon status  Times, clearly, have changed, and I suspect plenty of millennials have never seen The Wizard of Oz. They confess little patience with films whose special effects aren’t hyper-realistic. Will films with lines like “Toto, I’ve a feeling we’re not in Kansas anymore” hold any meaning for future generations of filmgoers? No one knows for sure, just as no one can predict which movie from this summer’s slate, regarded as lackluster by box-office analysts, might someday be elevated to iconic status through some futuristic method of distribution (Holography? Oculus Rift? 8K Ultra HD?) as television did for The Wizard of Oz. All that seems assured is that everyone who can capture the beauty of childhood, as Victor Fleming and his film’s cast and crew did 75 years ago, deserves to be celebrated.

Oz in the News 8.18.14

wizard-oz‘The Wizard of Oz’ Dazzled Audiences 75 Years Ago Today  With the notable exception of Walt Disney’s Snow White, Hollywood’s attempts to snare the mood of fantasies and fairy stories have been indifferently rewarded. Perhaps the fact that the Disney cartoon will eventually gross at least $7,500,000 – an all-time screen record – encouraged Metro Goldwyn-Mayer to risk approximately $3,000,000 on a flesh-and-blood re-creation of another famous children’s story.

“Wizard of Oz” Fans Follow Yellow Brick Road to Mapleton  “This is very much a diamond in the rough.” said Hollis Park District Director Jim Robertson. “This is the Wizard of Oz Fest 2014. It has grown every year. This is our third year, and we’re very excited about the outcome. It’s a wonderful thing to have a garden for the characters to actually go through and a real yellow brick road.” This is the third year for the Wizard of Oz Festival, or Oz Fest. It is becoming a tradition for fans of the book, and the movie, click their heels and end up in Mapleton each Summer.

Hollis Park District Celebrates “Wizard of Oz” Birthday  Scarecrow from Oz said, “Seventy five years later, these little kids are still running up to me and saying, ‘Scarecrow! I read your book!’ or, ‘I read your book!’ It’s amazing,and it just makes this straw heart feel nice and warm, but not fiery warm.”


Daily Ozmapolitan Extra: The Wizard of Oz By the Numbers


Oz in the News 8.17.14

ireland-2Witches and Ireland and Bears, Oh My! — Celebrates 75th Anniversary of the Wizard of Oz by Revealing Family History Connections of the Films’ Stars  Actress Margaret Hamilton has a connection to the Salem Witch Trials, as does the book’s author, L. Frank Baum. According to family history experts at, Hamilton’s 5th great grandparents found themselves living in colonial America near Salem, Massachusetts in the year of the famous Salem Witch Trials, after immigrating to the U.S. from Ireland. Research also revealed Baum had ancestors who lived near Salem during that same time period. Hamilton and Baum are also joined by the film’s top stars in having ancestral connections to another land of emerald green — Ireland. Actors Judy Garland, Ray Bolger and Jack Haley who played “Dorothy,” the “Scarecrow” and the “Tin Man” respectively, all have ancestors hailing from the Emerald Isle. Garland’s roots go back to County Meath, while Bolger has family connections to County Limerick. Haley’s ancestors left Ireland in the 1800s.

Winkie Con 2014: Ozplay Named after Winkie County, the westernmost region in the Land of Oz ruled by the Wicked Witch of the West, Winkie Con is organised by the International Wizard of Oz Club and is the longest-running Oz event in America. A few decades ago there were a host of such get-togethers, including the East Coast’s Munchkin celebration. But interest began to dwindle and by 2009, Winkie Con had just 40 attendees. The other events had winked out of existence entirely. This year, propelled by the publicity for the anniversary of the MGM film, Winkie Con moved from the mid-California Monterey peninsula down to San Diego. The relocation was due in part to San Diego’s proximity to neighbouring resort town, Coronado, where Baum wintered and wrote several novels. It was also the first year the usually humble Winkie Con expanded to offer a broad conference-style schedule, with concurrent panels discussing subjects such as the strong feminist characters in Baum’s books and the rise of fantasy and sci-fi fan culture. Attendance spiked to over 350; many attendees were newer fans, who had found their way down the yellow brick road via the musical “Wicked” or “Oz the Great and Powerful”, the new Oz film released in 2013.

Classic ‘Wizard of Oz’ line permeates pop culture Say you’re writing a screenplay for a movie or a script for a television series. Say your character is surprised by his or her surroundings or needs to express that things have just gotten very, very weird. Hmm… Whatever should that character say? If you’re from Kansas, you already know what the writer will type next. “I don’t think we’re in Kansas anymore, Toto.” Actually, to be exact, the line is “Toto, I’ve a feeling we’re not in Kansas anymore,” and it originated in the 1939 classic “The Wizard of Oz.” It’s been borrowed liberally over the years by movies, television shows, headline writers, political pundits, reality show producers, social media users and every day conversationalists. The line is so iconic, in fact, that it was No. 4 on a list of the top 100 movie quotes of all time that was compiled in 2005 by the American Film Institute – ahead, even, of “May the Force Be With You” and “Here’s looking at you, kid.” It even outranked “There’s no place like home,” another famous line from “Oz.”

Oz in the News 8.15.14

1408015853019_Image_galleryImage_BNPS_co_uk_01202_558833_PThey’re not in Kansas anymore! Rare storyboard paintings used to plan out The Wizard of Oz emerge 75 years after film’s release We don’t know of they were hidden by the Wicked Witch or just lost somewhere over the rainbow, but a pair of incredibly rare paintings used to plan the filming of timeless movie The Wizard of Oz have emerged for sale – 75 years after its release. The watercolours came from the brush of famed art director Jack Martin Smith and showed how the sets might look once filming of the Hollywood classic began. One of the paintings features Dorothy – who was played by child star Judy Garland – and two Munchkins walking down the Yellow Brick Road to Oz while the other shows Dorothy with the Scarecrow. Each painting is tipped to fetch around $6,700 when they go under the hammer at Heritage Auctions in Beverly Hills, California. Margaret Barrett, head of entertainment, said: ‘Before filming started, the production crew’s art team painted quick, off-the-cuff paintings of scenes which were then shown to the art director. He would then be able to plan how scenes were going to look before filming began. ‘Jack Martin Smith was the lead artist and at the time would have just created these artworks very quickly, but he was exceptionally skilled and they are now viewed as art in their own right.

Reston gallery’s new Wizard of Oz art to benefit Habitat There’s no place like Reston. At least not now, in light of the 75th anniversary of The Wizard of Oz. “ArtInsights is one of the few officially licensed purveyors of Warner Bros. studio art,” Peter Larson says. “They worked with Warner Bros. to do this art show that highlights new original pieces of art that relate to The Wizard of Oz.” The opening party for There’s No Place Like Home is Sunday, Aug. 17, from 5 to 9 p.m. Exhibition runs to Sept. 15. ArtInsights Animation and Film Art Gallery, 11921 Freedom Drive. Reston, Va. Call 703-478-0778 or 703-521-9890, or visit or

Eric Shanower Gets Sleepy for “Little Nemo: Return to Slumberland”  “I just finished the paintings for ten tarot cards for “The Shadow of Oz” tarot card set to be published in July by Illogical Associates. I drew a three-page story for “Fables” #142, to be published by DC/Vertigo. I wrote and drew a 20-page comics story for an anthology of mostly prose short stories called “Taking Aim: Twelve Stories about Guns and Gun Culture,” edited by Michael Cart from HarperCollins in fall 2015. Marvel Comics has compiled all the “Oz” comics that Skottie Young and I did the past several years into one big volume, “The Oz Omnibus,” to be published in September. I wrote a new introduction for that. I’m painting variant covers for “Little Nemo: Return to Slumberland. My time is currently consumed with producing a vintage 1913 stage musical titled “The Tik-Tok Man of Oz,” with script and lyrics by “Oz”-creator L. Frank Baum. As soon as that play is over in August I’ll be getting back to “Age of Bronze” from Image Comics.”

Bright Now Beyond: This new musical looks to put a fresh spin on the familiar Land of Oz, but the storytelling isn’t always clear Brightly colored costumes and lighting. An effervescent, whimsical set. Techniques of “story theatre.” The Land of Oz. These were all things that I expected to experience at Bright Now Beyond, playwright Daniel Alexander Jones and composer Bobby Halvorson’s new musical adaptation of The Marvelous Land of Oz. And the world premiere production from Salvage Vanguard Theater does deliver them. Shadow puppets feature prominently on the shimmering curtains that constitute most of the set, for instance, and splashes of light bedazzle the environment and imaginative wardrobe.

Cakewalk to Oz: Students lend a wizard’s touch to dessert creations Courtesy of students from Chicago’s After School Matters program, the lobby and ballroom of the Palmer House Hilton was transformed into a sweet fantasy world fit for beloved characters Dorothy, the Tin Man, Scarecrow, Cowardly Lion, Toto and the Wizard. The students, who hail from Chicago’s Southeast Side and the Hegewisch area, went to great lengths to create Wizard of Oz-themed three-tiered cakes, specialty cupcakes and other desserts in an end-of-the-season final for their cake decorating/culinary class taught by instructor Gloria Hafer. Hafer said the class was invited to hold their competition last month at the Palmer House by the hotel’s director of catering who liked the idea of the Oz-themed event presented in celebration of the 75th anniversary of the popular movie. The Palmer House actually has a history with “Oz” in that author Frank L. Baum stayed at the hotel while he was participating in a book fair to debut his original edition. And in musical history, Judy Garland performed at the Palmer House’s Empire Room while on a tour to promote the film in 1938.