Category Archives: Oz Film, TV & Radio

Oz in the News 9.24.18

Return to Oz Producer Gary Kurtz Dies at 78 It is with great sadness that must report that film producer Gary Kurtz, one of the major forces in the creation of Star Wars, has passed away at age 78 from cancer. Kurtz’s post-Star Wars career saw him continuing in the fantasy realm, producing Jim Henson and Frank Oz’s ambitious all-puppet 1982 epic The Dark Crystal, which did middling business but is now considered a classic and is currently getting a Netflix series follow up. He also produced Return to Oz, a dark take on L. Frank Baum’s creation that failed at the 1985 box office.

Oz in the News 9.18.18

Oz in the News 9.10.18

How the Smithsonian Helped Sleuth Out the True Identity of a Pair of Dorothy’s Ruby Slippers Dawn Wallace and Richard Barden stood in the museum’s objects conservation lab looking over two shoes. Red. Sequin-covered. Small heels. Petite in size. Wallace, an objects conservator, had recently spent more than 200 hours examining the museum’s long-cherished pair of Ruby Slippers, worn by Judy Garland while filming the iconic 1939 movie The Wizard of Oz. Barden, the museum’s chief conservator, had spent decades with the collections, including the sparkling shoes that are slated to go back on view in a new showcase display on October 19, 2018. Those shoes, now fully conserved thanks to the support of 6,000 Kickstarter backers who funded their preservation, were safely stored elsewhere in the museum. The shoes that sat before Wallace and Barden had been delivered by FBI agents for examination, and could be the key to a 13-year-old mystery. “Wow, I think these are the real thing,” Wallace thought.



Oz in the News 9.4.18

Stolen Ruby Slippers From ‘Wizard of Oz’ Are Recovered: FBI There’s no place like home — even for a pair of shoes. A pair of the iconic ruby slippers from the 1939 “Wizard of Oz” film have been recovered after they had been missing for more than a decade, the FBI announced Tuesday morning. The shoes are one of several pairs worn by Judy Garland, who played Dorothy Gale in the classic film. This pair was stolen in 2005 from the Judy Garland Museum in Minnesota. The FBI is holding a news conference Tuesday afternoon to offer more details on the recovery of the slippers.

Oz in the News 9.1.18

‘Wicked’ Movie Delayed It looks like fans will have to wait a bit longer for Wicked to hit the big screen, but at least they’ll get a suitable replacement in Cats. Universal Pictures and Working Title are set to release the big screen adaptation of Cats on December 20th, but unfortunately, that means that the big screen version of Wicked will now be delayed. Wicked was originally slated for that date, and no replacement release date was given by the studio (via Variety). The much-anticipated film will adapt the hugely successful 2003 Broadway musical, which itself is based on Gregory Maguire’s novel Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West. The novel explores the Wicked Witch’s side of events seen in the Wizard of Oz and shows how she came to be known as the Wicked Witch. It isn’t as clear-cut as you might expect, and before they were enemies Elphaba and Glinda formed a unique and genuine friendship.


Oz in the News 8.9.18

All yellow brick roads lead to Mapleton this Saturday for Oz Fest It’s not quite a yellow brick road, but the signs posted around the village of Mapleton and its surrounding thoroughfares will be followed in droves this Saturday — all leading to Butler Haynes Park, home of Oz Festival Illinois. The festival, which celebrates the whimsical adventures from the beloved 1939 motion picture, found solid footing after an explosion in attendance three years ago that vaulted the tiny celebration designed for kids into the collection of well-known Oz Fests across the country. The high-mark in attendance was 5,000 people in 2015 with the last two years decreasing to around 1,600 attendees, according to Angela Martiens, the superintendent of recreation for the Hollis Park District. That stability has allowed festival organizers to tweak the formula of the event — for example, there are fewer overall vendors than in 2016 but more that specifically cater to “The Wizard of Oz” fans.

Additional showing added to see ‘The Wizard of Oz’ in 3D on Friday at the Peoria Riverfront Museum In conjunction with Oz Festival Illinois on Saturday, the Peoria Riverfront Museum’s Giant Screen Theater will show “The Wizard of Oz” twice Friday night in 3D. The first screening at 6 p.m. is already sold out, but the 8:30 p.m. showtime still has plenty of tickets available. Hollis Park District director Jim Robertson will be at the theater to introduce the film, and a few special guests from the Mapleton festival might also be in attendance at the theater.

Oz in the News 7.14.18

Animated ‘Oz’ Movie in the Works From Warner Bros., ‘Madagascar’ Writer Warner Bros. is developing an animated Wizard of Oz retelling, working with veteran scribe Mark Burton. Burton will adapt Toto, a children’s book by War Horse writer Michael Morpurgo, which tells the story of Dorothy’s trip through Oz from her faithful dog’s perspective.  The movie from Warner Animation Group will be executive produced by Jared Stern and Winsor Yuan through their A Stern Talking To banner. Stern worked with Warner Bros. as a writer on the Lego Batman and Lego Ninjago pics. Burton often works with the U.K.’s Aardman Studios, having written the studio’s last two features — Shaun the Sheep and Early Man. His other writing credits include Gnomeo & Juliet and Madagascar. He is repped by UTA, the U.K.’s Berlin Associates and McKuin Frankel.

Chesterton Oz Fest ‘First Lady’ still greeting fans Reader Carla Sellers of South Bend, who had served as one of the event organizers for the annual Wizard of Oz Festival in Chesterton before it disbanded in 2012, contacted to me to ask about Mary Ellen St. Aubin, another of the favorite “little people,” who like Maren, would travel to Northwest Indiana each year to greet fans. St. Aubin would traditionally greet her Chesterton fans by saying she was “a Munchkin by marriage,” since she did not appear in the film, but her husband Pernell Elmer St. Aubin was in the movie playing a Munchkin Soldier. Pernell, who died at age 64 in 1987, only attended a few of the first Chesterton festivals, while Mary Ellen continued to attend faithfully almost every year. It’s with a big smile that I report Mary Ellen is still attending Wizard of Oz festivals and events around the country, and on Sept. 21, she will celebrate her 98th birthday.

Movie memorabilia to be on display at fest “This guy, and I don’t want to use his full name, but his first name is Joel. He had a detached barn with a horde of costumes from the golden age of Hollywood. He also has the actual carriage used in ‘Gone With the Wind’ and the old Metro Golden Meyer sign that is seen here,” Kaufman said, pointing to two black and white photos on his table. “It was fascinating.” One of the things that really piqued Kaufman’s attention was a heavy grey uniform-style outfit. While Kaufman didn’t consider himself a classic movie buff, he was pretty sure he knew where that costume came from. “I saw it and asked him ‘is that a Winkie guard uniform?’ And he said it was a prototype of the Winkie uniform from ‘The Wizard of Oz,’ he said. “He also had an early prototype of the flying monkeys costume.” The Winkie guards, fans will remember, served the Wicked Witch of the West, donning coats, fur hats and boots (they also chanted the unforgettable, “O-ee-yah, e-oh-ah!”). Kaufman was simply floored. “We walked through it and he showed me some stuff. I told him if he ever wanted to get rid of it … I would like first dibs,” he said. As fate would have it, that day came.

Profiles In History Has a Veritable Museum of Soon To Be Auctioned Movie Memorabilia in Their Comic-Con Booth Profiles in History, a high profile memorabilia auction house, has a booth and they’ve got a treasure trove of items from films like Star Wars, Jaws and The Wizard of Oz on display at the booth, ahead of their next auction.  That’s booth 1605 if you were wondering. You will see iconic items like: Margaret Hamilton’s “Wicked Witch of the West” hat from The Wizard of Oz.