Category Archives: Oz Film, TV & Radio

Oz in the News 8.19.19

Syracuse observes The Wizard of Oz 80th Anniversary  August 25, 1939 was when the movie was released nation wide. To mark the anniversary in Syracuse, the Landmark Theatre has a special showing , next Sunday (August 25th) at 2pm. In addition to the movie, there will be a costume contest.  Basic tickets are $10. For more info go to The Lyman Frank Baum Foundation is also planning a ‘Magic of Oz’ weekend, with a bus tour of ‘Oz sites’ on Saturday, October 5th ($15), and a Character Breakfast on Sunday, October 6th at the Marriott Syracuse Downtown, which also has a permanent, but changing display of Oz trivia to highlight author L Frank Baum’s Central NY connections.

My Journey to Oz & Kansas—Part 3: The International Wizard of Oz Club When I casually mention The International Wizard of Oz Club (IWOC) to the average person, I get a range of responses, but most fall into these two categories: giggles and astonishment. Most folks don’t know about all the dedicated Oz fans out there. Most folks never heard of the scholarly Baum Bugle, the annual Ozmapolitan conventions, or Oz festivals. Even those who grew up watching MGM’s The Wizard of Oz on TV through the 1960s—and fell in love with Judy Garland or the Scarecrow—have no idea about the cultish following that is alive and well today. Last time, Jane Albright shared how her initial interest in Oz decades ago spiraled into her current role as the IWOC president—with the force of a Kansas twister.

Oz in the News 8.15.19

Eighty years of The Wizard of Oz The Wizard of Oz literally resonated around the world.  Australians refer to themselves as “Ozzies” (a phonetic spelling of “Aussies”).  When World War II broke out, the march-like number “We’re Off to See the Wizard,” sung in the film by Dorothy and her companions as they set out on the yellow brick road, became a rallying song for troops from Down Under.  No less an authority than Winston Churchill related in his history of the war that Australian soldiers sang it during an important (and victorious) battle with Italian forces in North Africa in January 1941. “This tune always reminds me of those buoyant days,” Churchill wrote. (via OUPblog)

‘The Wizard of Oz’ Anniversary Film contributor Ryan Jay joins us to talk about The Wizard of Oz as the film celebrates its 80th anniversary. (Interview begins at 15:00)

Oz in the News 8.12.19

Oconomowoc ups its ‘Wizard of Oz’ hype The $28,000 worth of colorful fiberglass Oz statues were paid for through fundraisers and are set to be installed in a public plaza this week next to City Hall. They portray Dorothy and Toto, Tin Man, Scarecrow and the Cowardly Lion. A yellow brick road has been painted on the patio bricks, while the Wicked Witch of the West will loom in the background. The Wizard of Oz will take up residence on the sidewalk next to a 3-foot-tall granite monument that tells the story of the movie playing here 80 years ago. The idea for the Oz statues came from Duffy, who got a close-up view of some of the Bucky on Parade statues in 2018 that graced Madison and were manufactured at F.A.S.T. Corp. in Sparta. Duffy began talking to the owners of F.A.S.T. — which stands for Fiberglass, Animals, Shapes & Trademarks — and learned that in the vast outdoor archives of the company, amid the molds of giant ice cream cones, fish and elephants, were molds used more than 20 years ago to make “Wizard of Oz” characters for an amusement park in Kentucky. That led to Duffy speaking with tourism and other officials in his city, who suggested reaching out to the community to fund the project both in cash and through in-kind donations for work on the plaza.

Video: Oconomowoc prepares for 80th anniversary celebration of ‘The Wizard of Oz’

The subversive messages hidden in The Wizard of Oz In the sepia opening scenes, we are warned that the magic we’re about to see might not be wholly magical. Having run away from her home in Kansas to stop her pet dog Toto being put down, Dorothy meets a travelling clairvoyant named Professor Marvel (Frank Morgan) – a character who isn’t in L Frank Baum’s source novel, but was created by screenwriters Noel Langley, Florence Ryerson and Edgar Allan Woolf. As kindly as he is, the professor is a con artist who pretends to be psychic by peeking at a photo Dorothy is carrying. Another film might have contrasted this earthbound huckster with the genuine marvels performed by the wonderful Wizard of Oz, but in this one the wizard is played by the same actor as Professor Marvel, and he turns out to be much the same character: a fast-talking fairground showman who hides behind a curtain, waggling levers, and using mechanical trickery to keep his subjects loyal and afraid. He admits that he ended up in the land of Oz when his hot air balloon was blown there – and even that balloon is beyond his control. In a gloriously gonzo final flourish, he floats off into the sky with a cheerful cry of: “I can’t come back. I don’t know how it works!” There aren’t many films that show politicians being quite as brazenly incompetent as that.


Oz in the News 8.11.19

Stolen Ruby Slippers Inspire Fictional Reading On Friday, Sod House Theater (SHT), based in Minneapolis, Minn., will present a staged reading of a fictional account of the disappearance of the slippers led by Joy Dolo and Luverne Seifert, with musical composition by Ashley Hanson and Brian Laidlaw. The presentation, “Ruby Slippers,” will be performed with live music at the Reif Center in Grand Rapids at 7 p.m. on Aug. 16.  The production, explained Seifert, is part mystery, part travelogue and part Coen Brothers storytelling and will examine how a community wrestles with the devastation of the possibility that someone from their own community could be capable of an egregious crime against their hometown. “I’m a teacher at the University of Minnesota in the Department of Theater Arts and Dance, and I proposed the project to our department. So last fall I devised a play based on the theft with a group of university students,” Seifert continued. “We had a great time developing it, using the ‘Wizard of Oz,’ news clips, and documentaries, ultimately creating a Fargo-esque play that we performed at the university.” The performance was well-received, he said, and so he sought to continue the work, receiving a Minnesota State Arts Board Artist Initiative Grant to continue phase two of the project. The second phase is what will bring the group to Grand Rapids to host a staged reading of the show in the town in which the mystery began.

Hollywood Flashback: Judy Davis Won an Emmy Playing Judy Garland In 2001, the four-hour ABC miniseries Life With Judy Garland: Me and My Shadows cleaned up at the Emmys, where it won five awards: lead actress, supporting actress, costumes, hair styling and makeup. And it had been just those elements, especially star Judy Davis (“A tour de force performance”), that The Hollywood Reporter loved. (The Hollywood Reporter was less thrilled about the “plodding, unfocused script.”) Exec producer Neil Meron says an unusual amount of effort went into hair and makeup. “It’s a period piece and you’re dealing with one of the most iconic performers ever,” says Meron. “So many eyeballs were going to be watching and ready to take out their scalpels that you’d better be right on about the details. It was the eyebrows; the prosthetics for when she gained weight; it even extended to wearing contact lenses and Judy being uncomfortable but knowing she had to get the eyes right.”

Oz in the News 8.4.19

How the academy is celebrating eccentric dance from ‘Wizard of Oz’ to ‘Aladdin’ On Monday at the Samuel Goldwyn Theater, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences is shining a spotlight on eccentric dancing and how the art form has also played an important role in animation. “The Choreography of Comedy: The Art of Eccentric Dance” will feature film clips of some of the greatest eccentric dancers, including home movies of the Nicholas Brothers introduced by Fayard’s son Tony; a 1911 clip of Fred Stone, who played the Scarecrow in the 1903 silent version of “The Wizard of Oz”; rubber-legged Ray Bolger in 1939’s “The Wizard of Oz” and 1952’s “Where’s Charley?”; a panel discussion including actor-director-writer Simon Callow, animator and dance historian Betsy Baytos and animator Eric Goldberg (“The Princess and the Frog,” “Aladdin”); and several performances, including a special tap dance from choreographer DeWitt Fleming Jr.

Oz in the News 7.24.19

Oconomowoc is getting a yellow brick road to celebrate the 80th anniversary of ‘The Wizard of Oz’ Construction for the Wizard of Oz Plaza in the city of Oconomowoc is underway. DNA Landscaping, which is owned by Adam Woodard and David Batzner, began constructing the yellow brick road portion of the project in mid-July in anticipation of the 80th anniversary of the world premiere of “The Wizard of Oz.” The plaza is going in next to Oconomowoc City Hall, on the west side of the building. The classic film premiered in Oconomowoc on Aug. 12, 1939, and the city has spent the last few months finalizing plans for the celebration. Along with the yellow brick road, the plaza will include statues of Dorothy with Toto, the Tin Man, Scarecrow, the Cowardly Lion, the Wicked Witch of the West and the Wizard of Oz. “We did a bunch of research on what was going to look the best based on what the statues were going to be,” Batzner said of the yellow brick road. “We didn’t just want it to be yellow. We wanted some design to it, some flow. It’s exactly like it is in the movie.”

Sid & Judy, About Judy Garland and Sid Luft, Will Debut on Showtime in October The film, from director Stephen Kijak (Stones in Exile, We Are X) and producers Diane Becker and John Battse, is narrated by Emmy winner Jon Hamm (Mad Men) and Oscar nominee Jennifer Jason Leigh (Patrick Melrose). Sid & Judy, which premiered at San Francisco’s Frameline Festival in June, explores the career and personal struggles of Garland through rare concert footage, never-heard-before voice recordings, and personal photos, as she navigated the tumultuous decade with her confidant, manager and, third husband: Luft. The film will debut on Showtime October 18 at 8 PM ET; check local listings.

Oz in the News 7.9.19

Renee Zellweger Embodies Judy Garland in New ‘Judy’ Trailer “Judy” shows the world through Garland’s eyes 30 years after her star-making role in “The Wizard of Oz.” The musical biopic is set late 1960s shortly before Garland’s death, focusing on the performer’s run at the Talk of the Town club in London. The new footage, which was first teased during London Pride over the weekend with a special introduction by Zellweger, sees Garland arrive at a hotel with her two children, only to find that her suite has been released because her account was in debt. With her home and manager lost, Garland is offered a job in London, but she must leave her children in America in order to take it. “You’re saying I have to leave my children if I want to make enough money to be with my children?” Garland asks before cutting to her backstage at the Talk of the Town.

She’s A Witch! New Play Brings The Story Of Margaret Hamilton To Life On The Bay Street Stage It all began with a theater review, and not one that actress Jean Tafler found particularly flattering. “I was playing a female Ebenezer Scrooge at a theater in New Jersey, and the reviewer compared me to Margaret Hamilton,” Ms. Tafler said. “I didn’t like that. Margaret Hamilton, of course, is best known for portraying the Wicked Witch of the West, Dorothy Gale’s evil nemesis in the 1939 film “The Wizard of Oz.” Her turn as the green-hued bad gal out to get the innocent farm girl from Kansas (and her little dog too) is the stuff of legends and nightmares. To this day, whenever “The Wizard of Oz” airs on television, her performance still has the power to terrify the wits out of small children. “John said she is a villain everyone loves to hate,” added Ms. Tafler, referring to her husband, playwright John Ahlin. Yet that singular, defining role was hardly the end of Hamilton’s story.

Wizard of Oz: A Theatrical Belly Dance Adventure Sadie Adair and the bevy of beauties who make up local belly dance troupe The Desert Darlings are back to take you into a magical realm known as Oz, in their third full-length production, Wizard of Oz: A Theatrical Belly Dance Adventure. All the way from Washington, D.C., Ebony Qualls joins the gals, starring as the Wizard themselves. These ladies aim to bring to the masses not just Middle Eastern dance, but something fresh, intriguing and clever to their all-ages audience with this show. South Broadway Cultural Center‘s John Lewis Theatre proudly hosts the gals for another year on Friday, July 12 and Saturday, July 13, with both shows beginning at 7pm. Adult tickets run $25, seniors and students get in for $20 and children 12 and under are only $15.