Monthly Archives: December 2017

Oz in the News 12.30.17

Final surviving ‘Oz’ Munchkin celebrates 98th birthday in January Early in his career, Jerry said it wasn’t uncommon for him to play a New Year’s Eve baby or any number of other assorted roles requiring a small actor. After meeting Jerry, Elizabeth also began working in the movie and TV field, including appearances on “The Gong Show,” (along with hubby Jerry) as well as featured in McDonald’s commercials, appearing as some of the costumed characters. For years, it was Jerry who played the role of the masked Hamburglar — and sometimes Mayor McCheese — in McDonald’s TV commercials. While in later years, his Munchkin contemporaries didn’t mind wearing solider costumes, flowerpots on their heads and other assorted odd ensembles in the guise of their original “Oz” film wardrobe for paid personal appearances, Jerry found it silly. Even when I flew to Los Angeles to join Jerry and the Munchkins in November 2007 for the Munchkins to be honored with a star unveiled on Hollywood’s Walk of Fame, Maren insisted on wearing his own clothes rather than a costume recreation.

Oz in the News 12.28.17

Matilda Joslyn Gage opera to premiere next month in Syracuse The world premiere of the opera, “Pushed Aside: Reclaiming Gage,” is set for 4 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 21, at the Carrier Theater, Civic Center, Syracuse. Witness the story of Matilda Joslyn Gage, the lesser known third member of the “triumvirate” of early women’s suffragists — the other two being Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton. The opera tells how they came together in the early 1850s then had their great split in 1890, resulting in Matilda being “pushed aside,” and right out of the history books. Along the way, we also discover how Matilda fought for others who had been pushed aside, including African-Americans and Native Americans, and how she came to believe that all freedom struggles are equal and interconnected. This opera tells the story of a woman of courage and integrity publicly defying 19th century laws that forced complicity with slavery and denied women their autonomy and liberty and the right to vote. This story shines a light on a remarkable corner of the world known as Central New York that became a hub of free thought and radical activism for ending slavery and promoting Native American rights as well as social justice. Several in the cast are CNY natives who have performed nationally and internationally. Buffalo native Steven Stull plays Maud Gage Baum and L. Frank Baum, respectively, in scenes that open and close the opera, scenes that frame the action. Tickets are $15 adults, $12 students/seniors and are available via paypal at, or call the Society at 315-251-1151.

Oz in the News 12.24.17

There’s no place like … the Butler Building Who wouldn’t want their name on a brick for a yellow brick road that will be created next to the Butler Building, home of the Aitkin Opera House, where Judy Garland performed as a youngster? Just launched this month is the Yellow Brick Road Campaign, giving fans of Judy Garland and the Wizard of Oz and members of the community, the chance to help build their very own yellow brick road while preserving a place in American history. In tribute to the history of the building’s turn-of-the-century opera house, notably the first venue where a young Garland, known then as Baby Gumm, got her start on stage in 1925, owners of the building are creating an opportunity for those to help protect the legacy of this important part of entertainment history by helping to build a yellow brick road around this 1903 building. Funds raised through the purchase of each golden brick will go to help bring the opera house back to its original grandeur, allowing the building to be inducted into the National Historic Registry, officially claiming its place in history.

Oz in the News 12.18.17

A drugmaker used “The Wizard of Oz” to sell OxyContin After Purdue Pharma brought its blockbuster painkiller OxyContin to market in 1996, the company began an aggressive marketing push to convince doctors to start prescribing the drug for moderate pain, like arthritis.  Purdue’s marketing efforts worked: Within five years, OxyContin became the most frequently prescribed brand name narcotic to treat moderate to severe pain in the country.  By 2004, OxyContin also quickly became one of the most abused pharmaceutical drugs in U.S. history, playing a major role in America’s opioid epidemic, which has impacted millions and kills more than 90 people each day. At the heart of Purdue’s sales tactics was an unusual marketing guide, based on the children’s classic “The Wizard of Oz.”  Marketplace obtained a copy of a Purdue Pharma sales document, called “IF I ONLY HAD A BRAIN…”  It was stamped “Training & Development,” and sent out to the “Entire Field Force” from the sales department on November 4, 1996.  In the document, Purdue offers its sales reps a step-by-step guide to convincing doctors to prescribe OxyContin. That step-by-step guide was built on “The Wizard of Oz,” complete with munchkins, Auntie Em, Dorothy, and the Yellow Brick Road.

Oz in the News 12.14.17

Ernie Harburg and Deena Rosenberg Will Celebrate the Music and Politics of Yip Harburg E.Y. “Yip” Harburg, lyricist of Finian’s Rainbow, the classic The Wizard of Oz film, and many more shows and movies, will be celebrated in a noon concert December 14 at the 92nd Street YM-YWHA (92Y) in New York City. Hosted and performed by cabaret singer Harvey Granat with accompaniment from pianist David Lahm, the concert will also examine the politics of Harburg (1896–1981), a leftist who spent time on the Hollywood blacklist, whose songbook also includes hits like “Brother, Can You Spare a Dime” and “It’s Only a Paper Moon.” Harburg’s “Over the Rainbow” (written with composer Harold Arlen) was listed as number one on the Songs of the 20th Century list compiled by the Recording Industry Association of America and the National Endowment for the Arts. Special guests at the concert include Ernie Harburg, the lyricist’s son, and his wife Deena Rosenberg, cultural and music historian, author of Fascinating Rhythm: The Collaboration of George and Ira Gershwin, and founding chair of the musical theatre program at New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts. 92Y is located on Lexington Avenue between 91st and 92nd streets in Manhattan. Tickets for The Lyrics of Yip Harburg concert cost $29, and can be ordered by clicking here.

Oz in the News 12.7.17

Local music teacher to host launch event for new children’s book Randy L. Schmidt, a music teacher at Adkins Elementary School in Lantana, has written his first children’s book, “Becoming Judy Garland,” a biography he has dedicated to the students of Adkins Elementary. The book explores the early life and career of Garland — originally named Frances Gumm — as she went from vaudeville to movie stardom to the “role of a lifetime” in “The Wizard of Oz,” according to a news release. “I wrote this book because I feel Judy Garland is still relevant to children, even after all these years,” Schmidt said in a prepared statement. “The timeless appeal of ‘The Wizard of Oz’ speaks to today’s kids in the same way it has for nearly 80 years. The Library of Congress says it’s ‘the most watched film ever,’ so most kids know Dorothy’s story, but not necessarily Judy’s. This book brings her extraordinary talent to life again for a new audience of adoring fans.” All Adkins students, their families and the community are invited to the upcoming book dedication and launch party, where Schmidt will read from his book and discuss his love of reading, research and writing. The event is scheduled for Dec. 18 at 6 p.m. in the Adkins Library Learning Center. For more information about Schmidt and his books, click here.

Oz in the News 12.6.17

Take A Walk In The Land Of Ozz With Inbet Games Omni-channel gaming software provider InBet Games has confirmed the launch of Land of Ozz, a new slot game based on a famous American children’s tale. Land of Ozz players will experience a journey to the Emerald City with all the main characters from the book including Dorothy and Toto, along with the Tin Man, Scarecrow, Cowardly Lion, Winged Monkey, Glinda the Good Witch of the South and the Wicked Witch of the West. Each character is worth a certain amount of points. For example, three symbols of the Scarecrow are worth just two points, whereas five symbols of the Good Witch are worth the highest 750 points. Pavel Korolev, Business Development Director for InBet Games, commented: “Land of Ozz is an enthralling new addition to the InBet portfolio, and one that is bound to drive high player engagement.”

Behind the Curtain: Previewing Oscar Diggs Oscar Diggs, a highly anticipated new restaurant located at 155 N. Limestone in Lexington, is on track to open shortly after the new year, with a projected opening date of January 3, according to owners Ralph and Donna Quillin. The Quillins, owner/operators of Rooster Brewing in Paris, Kentucky, teamed up with Andrew Suthers and Kyle Klatka, owners of The Gastro Gnomes food truck, on the venture. The space, former longtime home to Merit Furniture, is being renovated to feature an open kitchen, as well as a new bar, fireplace, industrial pulley lighting and a new front facade that will allow for seasonal patio seating. The rotating menu will feature burgers as a cornerstone item, with beers from Rooster Brewing and other offerings. And about that name? Oscar Diggs is a fictional character in author L. Frank Baum’s Land of Oz series. Most people know him better as The Wizard of Oz.


Oz in the News 12.1.17

WBHE Brings ‘Dorothy and the Wizard of Oz’ Home in March Warner Bros. Home Entertainment’s series Dorothy and The Wizard of Oz: We’re not in Kansas Anymore – Season One, Vol. One will be available March 27, 2018 on DVD. The disc will retail for $14.97 and feature 10 episodes of the series. The series also will be available March 12 on Digital HD. Dorothy and The Wizard of Oz: We’re not in Kansas Anymore – Season One, Vol. One centers on the adventures of Dorothy after she and her friends defeat the Wicked Witch of the West. Packed with memorable melodies, iconic Oz imagery (and of course her Ruby Slippers) that are sure to delight fans of the beloved children’s book series by L. Frank Baum and the classic film The Wizard of Oz, the series follows Dorothy after she’s named Princess of Emerald City by Queen Ozma. Dorothy embraces her royal duties with enthusiasm, bravery and farm-girl feistiness. Dorothy and The Wizard of Oz is produced by Warner Bros. Animation. Sam Register (Teen Titans Go!) serves as executive producer with Jeff DeGrandis (Dora the Explorer) as producer. Voice cast includes Kari Wahlgren (Bunnicula) as Dorothy and Queen Ozma, Jess Harnell (Animaniacs) as Lion, JP Karliak (New Looney Tunes) as Tin Man, Bill Fagerbakke (SpongeBob SquarePants) as Scarecrow and Jessica DiCicco (DC Super Hero Girls) as Wilhelmina.