Category Archives: Oz Film, TV & Radio

Oz in the News 2.15.19

Mercer Islander recalls filming “The Wizard of Oz” A retirement community in Mercer Island will be celebrating the special connection of one of its residents with one of the most beloved movies of all time, “The Wizard of Oz.” The adaptation of L. Frank Baum’s 1900 children’s book “The Wonderful Wizard of Oz” came out in 1939, meaning that it is 80 years old. Meredythe Glass, who lives in Covenant Shores on Mercer Island, was an extra in the film, in the Emerald City scenes. She is now 98. “I was a green lady. There must have been a hundred of us,” she said. Glass may be the only surviving person involved in the film since Jerry Maren, the last munchkin, died in 2018. “People tell me that I’m the last of the cast, but I don’t have any proof of that,” Glass said.  She got the part because her mother’s first cousin, Mervyn LeRoy, was the director-producer of the film. When she turned 18, LeRoy got her a Screen Actor’s Guild card. “I didn’t want to be an actress. I wanted to go to college,” she said, but she graduated from high school during the Depression, and took the work she could get. She was paid $16 a day to work on “The Wizard of Oz,” which was “a fortune, in those days.” Glass went on to work in Hollywood for a few more years, mostly as an extra or stand-in. She secured a small contract with MGM (Metro Goldwyn Mayer) studio, appearing as an extra in several Judy Garland and Mickey Rooney films, including “Babes on Broadway,” “Strike up the Band,” and “Babes in Arms.”

From his Virginia Beach hideaway, scriptwriter told salty tales about “Wizard of Oz” Noel Langley, lead scriptwriter for the 1939 movie, sat for a Pilot interview while he was living in Virginia Beach in the 1970s, drawn there by his interest in Edgar Cayce and the Oceanfront enlightenment center. During his four years in Sandbridge, Langley wrote a book on Cayce, then quietly moved on. He had worked on “Oz” in his mid-20s, and had become jaded about Hollywood, though he was still being sought for work. He had a special contempt for movie mogul Louis B. Mayer. “He wanted that damned little dog, Toto, to talk, and even to sing. And for me to write lines for it. I said ‘No.’ Fantasy and whimsy is one thing, but a talking dog is another. I told them that the only way this would be a success was if adults liked it, too – and it didn’t talk down to children. He fired me. “But then, the next day he hired me back. Every time Louis B. Mayer smiled at me it felt as if a snake was crawling across my face.”

Oz in the News 2.8.19

‘Wicked’ Movie Gets 2021 Holiday Season Release Date Universal Pictures has set its “Wicked” movie for the Christmas season with a release date of Dec. 22, 2021. Stephen Daldry will direct and Marc Platt will produce. The three-time Tony Award-winning stage musical was adapted from Gregory Maguire’s novel by Winnie Holzman and three-time Oscar-winning composer/lyricist Stephen Schwartz, who are also collaborating on the screenplay adaptation. “Wicked” was produced on Broadway by Platt, Universal Stage Productions, the Araca Group, Jon B. Platt, and David Stone. The movie version will open five days after Fox launches its “Avatar 3” along with an untitled Disney live-action movie, and an untitled Warner Bros. animated feature. Universal had original slated “Wicked” to open during the 2019 holidays but decided instead to go with “Cats,” the big-screen adaptation of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s smash musical, on Dec. 20, 2019. The film adaptation of 2003’s “Wicked” is expected to include two new songs. Cast members have not yet been announced.

Oz in the News 2.4.19

17 Secret Moments to Watch For in The Wizard of Oz Playbill spoke with John Fricke, the preeminent Wizard of Oz historian and author of seven books on both Oz and its star—Judy Garland, to glean an expert take on the film. Here, Fricke shares 17 moments that fans should watch for on the big screen, and dispels one grand myth surrounding The Wizard of Oz.

Oz in the News 1.29.19

‘Wizard of Oz’: Dorothy kills at box office For a 1939 movie, “The Wizard of Oz” knows how to dazzle the 2019 box office. The Judy Garland musical grossed more than $1 million at the domestic box office Sunday. It’s a new record for Fathom Events in presenting a classic film. For the day, “Oz” ranked at No. 8 at the box office and pulled off that feat with just two showings in about 700 theaters. The screenings continue Tuesday, Jan. 29, and Wednesday, Jan. 30. You can find the theaters at fathomevents.com. After the stellar box-office performance Sunday, “Oz” had earned more screenings: at 1 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 3, and at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 5. (Check times in your area.)

Oz in the News 1.24.19

If ever a Wiz there was: that time Margaret Hamilton visited ‘Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood’ “I would hear stories all the time of adults who said, ‘Boy, I’m still afraid of that witch, and the flying monkeys,’” said David Newell, who portrayed Mr. McFeely on the program. “I said to Fred, ‘Here’s something we maybe could use in dealing with scary things.” In the episode, the grandmotherly actress talks about the fun and hard work of making a movie. She defuses some of the mystery and scariness children might derive from watching it by showing how the costume — and that amazing hat — are just items of clothing. Then, she tells viewers that her witch wasn’t necessarily mean, just frustrated: she wanted those ruby slippers (which, when you think about it, belonged to her, not Dorothy). Mister Rogers agrees that for girls, or boys, “when you feel as if you’d like to play something a little bit scary, a witch is a fine thing to play.” He refers to the witch as “your old friend” and Ms. Hamilton as “a real lady who got dressed up to play this part.”

Oz in the News 1.3.19

LEGO Collectible Minifigures for The LEGO Movie 2 officially revealed This series, 71023 The LEGO Movie 2 Collectible Minifigures will feature 20 characters from the new film, some of which are cross-licensed with The Wizard of Oz. The Wicked Witch of the West and her Flying Monkeys made an appearance in The LEGO Batman Movie with sets such as The Ultimate Batmobile, and it looks like the rest of the gang is showing up in The LEGO Movie 2. Included are Dorothy & Toto, The Scarecrow, The TinMan, and  The Cowardly Lion. Most other sets for The LEGO Movie 2 are already available. The film comes out Febuary 8.

Oz in the News 12.16.18

Original Wizard of Oz script sells for $1.28 million at Profiles in History The original handwritten script for The Wizard of Oz has sold for $1.28 million during an auction of classic movie memorabilia at Profiles in History on December 11. The script had been described as “perhaps the most important manuscript in Hollywood history”, and was part of an historic archive documenting how the classic 1939 film was adapted for the silver screen from L. Frank Baum’s original books. The first draft of the screenplay was written in April 1938 by Noel Langley, who was one of three writers credited with the final script (although many more went uncredited throughout the troubled production). Fans of the film also had the chance to bid on the hat worn on-screen by Margaret Hamilton in her iconic role as the Wicked Witch of the West. The hat, which featured straps to hold it in place as she flew on her broomstick, sold for $102,400.

Marc Almond’s survey of Judy Garland’s life and afterlife (Passions, Sky Arts, Monday, 9pm) is more enthusiastic than enlightening, given its stated aim to “separate the real Judy from the mythical Garland”. But he finds some rewarding interviewees, and some glamorous backdrops against which to set them. The first sections of the programme whisk us through the familiar story biography, from Benzedrine-addicted child star shackled to MGM to the faded, frail figure of later years who was still capable of stunning an audience. This game quality clearly endears her to the Soft Cell singer, himself no stranger to life’s turbulence. The most interesting part of the programme deals with her afterlife. Almond chats to writer Matthew Todd about the significance of The Wizard of Oz to the gay community, at a time when “you couldn’t be out” and phrases such as “a friend of Dorothy” were vital codes. If Garland continues to resonate, especially to younger gay men, it’s through the timing of worldwide Gay Prides, which commemorate the 1969 Stonewall Riots in New York, which themselves coincided with Garland’s funeral. A police raid on a gay bar on that day of all days was seen as outrageous provocation.