Ronnee Sass Dies: Warner Bros. Publicist Behind Memorable Home Video Campaigns Best known for her contributions to home entertainment, Sass embarked on a career in this space in 1995. After co-founding Wolff, Freed and Greenberg, an independent PR and advertising firm in Baltimore, and doing a stint in film distribution, Sass found her way to Warner Home Video, where she was tasked with publicizing the studio’s extraordinary film library. In the 20 years that followed, Sass proved a key player in anniversary campaigns for many classic Warner Bros. titles, including The Wizard of Oz, Singin’ in the Rain and Blade Runner. Of particular note was a 2004 campaign in recognition of the 65th anniversary of Oz, for which she brought together all of the film’s surviving Munchkins.
Blakeway to explore Hollywood’s “golden year” for C5 Zinc Media Group-owned, UK-based factual prodco Blakeway Productions has scored a two-part commission with Channel 5, exploring a Hollywood heyday from decades past. Across two 90-minute specials, 1939: Hollywood’s Golden Year will feature a cast of family members, friends and experts such as Judy Garland’s daughter Lorna Luft; actor and writer Stephen Fry (pictured); Laurence Olivier’s son Tarquin and director Peter Bogdanovich to celebrate the films of a pivotal year during which such classics as Wuthering Heights, The Wizard of Oz and Gone With The Wind were made. Daniel Pearl, VP, commissioning editor for Channel 5, said in a statement: “This show will take an in-depth look at one of the most glamorous times in Hollywood which I know our viewers are going to love. With never-before-seen footage and interviews with the people who knew them best, it will reveal some of the best kept secrets of Tinsel town’s most famous icons.”
This Klingon weapon was inspired by The Wizard of Oz while not much is known about how the spear originated in Klingon customs, the weapon used for the series was a collaboration between TNG’s visual effects supervisor, Dan Curry and prop master Alan Sims. And Curry, according to the book Star Trek The Artistry of Dan Curry, was inspired by both medieval halberds and what the Wicked Witch’s guards carried in The Wizard of Oz.
Brand New Day In an interview from 1977, Ben Harney, who played the Tin Man in the Broadway production of The Wiz, said that ‘for the first time in a long time people were getting Black theatre that wasn’t hitting them over the head with anger and militancy. This was a show that had universality, and it was fun.’ But after the film was released, white writers compared it to the so-called ‘militant’ productions of the era. Charles Champlin complained in his review that Lumet had directed the film ‘as if it were Roots instead of a musical fantasy film with (new) satiric overtones’. In truth the film fuses both sensibilities, and it’s this that made it unwieldy and hard to classify. That the more strident Roots was a TV sensation and became a cultural phenomenon, while The Wiz failed horribly, says something about the public lack of appetite for subtlety or complexity in Black productions. ‘That music – maybe you’d call it “sophisticated funk” – is a combination of all the music I ever knew,’ Charlie Smalls told the LA Times in 1976. ‘I wrote it all from my heart. The lyrics – they’re my life story – I became the characters to create the characters. I used everything that happened to me on my way here. And believe me, some of it wasn’t so good before it got turned into a song.’
Explore the Life of L. Frank Baum In “American Oz” Premiering on PBS This Spring According to PBS, the film invites viewers to “explore the life of L. Frank Baum, the man behind one of the most beloved, enduring and quintessential American classics. The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, published in 1900, has been reinterpreted through the generations in films, books, and musicals.” Baum wrote hundreds of works—scripts, poems, novels, and short stories—in addition to the 14 books in The Wonderful Wizard of Oz series, which also includes The Marvelous Land of Oz, Ozma of Oz, Dorothy and the Wizard in Oz, The Road to Oz, The Emerald City of Oz, and the last Oz book, Glinda of Oz. The works have been adapted into several films, including the classic 1939 movie musical starring Judy Garland, as well as plays and musicals, including 2003’s Wicked, which is based upon the Gregory Maguire novel of the same name that itself re-imagines the lives of Baum’s characters. “American Oz” will premiere on American Experience on PBS on Monday, April 19, 2021, at 9 p.m. E.T. (Check local listings to confirm.)
American McGee Reveals Oz: Adventures, a Hybrid TV And Video Game Project Doom, Quake and Alice alum American McGee has revealed Oz: Adventures, a television series and video game project that has been picked up for development by Radar Pictures. The project is based on the Oz series of books, which began with The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. McGee said on Instagram that he and his team “will be working to develop the Oz: Adventures concept for production as a TV series and video game. With luck, you’ll soon turn on one of your content providers (HBO? Netflix? Amazon?) and find ‘OZ: Adventures’ (Game and TV show) among your entertainment options,” McGee continues. McGee describes his version of Oz as “Running Man vs. Witches, Quadlings, and Munchkins. Characters are involuntarily pulled into Oz from all over the world and all through time.”
JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure Art Creates Strange Wizard of Oz Crossover The world of the Joestars is a strange one on its own, with JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure giving us some of the weirdest battles in the history of anime thanks to the Stands that appear frequently in the franchise, but one fan has decided to amplify the level of the bizarre by bringing the Hirohiko Araki characters into the world of The Wizard of Oz. This year is promising to be a big one for the anime franchise that continues to pick up steam across the world with each passing year and the future of the series seems bright.
What Song Is In The Army Of The Dead Trailer Among the flailing bodies and flying bullets, a timeless voice rises above the chaos. The Army of the Dead trailer is set to a slightly rejigged, slowed-down version of Judy Garland’s “Lucky Day.” The song was written in 1926 and recorded by various artists including Harry Richman and The Revelers, but perhaps the most famous performance (and the one Zack Snyder uses here) is Garland’s, first recorded in 1956.
Tell Me Something Good: ‘Finding Dorothy’ “Finding Dorothy” has been chosen as this year’s selection for the “Central New York Reads One Book” campaign, urging readers to read the book over the next few weeks and talk about it. That’s something that really touched the author. “When you say that, I’m getting goosebumps,” Letts says. “To have the community that I, as an outsider, came in and described a piece of, embracing my story and saying, hey we think you did a good job, that is incredibly validating for me.” As part of “Central New York Reads One Book,” Syracuse Stage will host Elizabeth Letts for a live Zoom conversation, next Thursday, March 4. There’s no charge to participate, and you don’t have to have read the book. But you do have to register in advance to get the Zoom link. You can do that at https://www.syracusestage.org/syracusestories.php And you can learn more about “Central New York Reads One Book” at https://www.cnyreads.org/.
A Los Angeles Home With Some ‘Wicked’ Hollywood History Hits the Market A historic Los Angeles home that once belonged to Margaret Hamilton, known as the Wicked Witch of the West in the 1939 classic “The Wizard of Oz,” was listed last week for $2.4 million. With three bedrooms and three-and-a-half bathrooms over about 3,000 square feet, the townhouse is the largest of the five residences in the Courtney Villa complex on the Sunset Strip, according to listing agent Jill Galloway at Compass. The residence is one of five homes that make up the Courtney Desmond Estate, a Spanish-Mediterranean revival-style community that dates to 1926. Designed by architects Frank H. Harding and George J. Adams, it was declared a Los Angeles Historic Cultural Monument in 1989.
‘Wizard of Oz’ remake planned with ‘Watchmen’ director New Line Cinema is making a new adaptation of “The Wonderful Wizard of Oz,” L. Frank Baum children’s novel, with Nicole Kassell, the visual architect of “Watchmen,” set to direct. Baum’s 1900 novel, now in the public domain, has spawned many adaptations over the years — most famously, of course, the 1939 MGM musical by Victor Fleming and starring Judy Garland. Kassell’s version will not be a musical. New Line said it will be a “fresh take” and a “reimagining” of “The Wonderful Wizard of Oz.” It will have some advantages, too, since Warner Bros. owns New Line and the 1939 film. That means it can use some trademarked elements like the ruby slippers. “While the 1939 musical is part of my DNA, I am exhilarated and humbled by the responsibility of re-imagining such a legendary tale,” said Kassell in a statement. “The opportunity to examine the original themes — the quest for courage, love, wisdom and home — feels more timely and urgent than ever. These are profoundly iconic shoes to fill, and I am eager to dance alongside these heroes of my childhood as we pave a newly minted yellow brick road!”
Animal Logic Reteams With Warner Bros. on Animated ‘Toto’ Visual effects and animation studio Animal Logic confirmed that Warner Bros.’ animated musical adaptation of Toto: The Dog-Gone Amazing Story of the Wizard of Oz will be the next project out of its Vancouver studio. The Sydney-headquartered company opened its Vancouver base in 2015, after forging a three-picture deal with Warner Bros. through which it would make three animated movies, starting with The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part, in Canada. Toto, the third movie in the deal, is an adaptation of the children’s book by author Michael Morpurgo and illustrator Emma Chichester Clark. Alex Timbers is attached to direct, from a screenplay by John August. Derek Frey will produce the animated movie, which according to Animal Logic is in preproduction.
In the Heights Director Jon M. Chu Tapped to Helm Wicked Movie
Crazy Rich Asians and In the Heights film director Jon M. Chu has been tapped to helm the film version of the smash-hit Broadway musical Wicked. As previously reported, Stephen Daldry, who had long been on board for the film, will no longer direct due to scheduling conflicts. As previously announced, the movie was taken off of Universal’s release schedule due to the coronavirus pandemic, and a new release date has yet to be determined. Stephen Schwartz has revealed the movie will contain at least three new numbers. The composer also plans to incorporate at least one song cut from the Broadway show into the film adaptation. Both Schwartz and the show’s librettist Winnie Holzman are collaborating on the screenplay. No word yet on casting.
WandaVision’s Wizard of Oz Easter Egg Explained WandaVision’s latest trailer features an Easter egg connected to The Wizard of Oz, and it might provide a hint to the show’s villain. Featuring the return of Elizabeth Olsen and Paul Bettany in their respective Marvel Cinematic Universe roles as Scarlet Witch and Vision, the Disney+ series is setting up to become a reality-bending adventure presented through nostalgic sitcom tropes. Aside from explaining Vision’s return following his death in Avengers: Infinity War, WandaVision will presumably introduce a handful of new concepts, including the MCU’s multiverse. WandaVision, created by Jac Schaeffer, will officially launch Phase 4 of the MCU. Set after the events of Avengers: Endgame, Scarlet Witch, aka Wanda Maximoff, and Vision find themselves living the ideal suburban life. As the decades go on, the pair start to realize that not everything in the town of Westview is as it seems. Aside from Wanda and Vision, the series will feature an adult Monica Rambeau (Teyonah Parris), a nosy neighbor named Agnes (Kathryn Hahn), and the return of MCU characters Darcy Lewis (Kat Dennings) and Jimmy Woo (Randall Park).
New Orleans gets The Wizard of Oz treatment in Bourbon Whiz The feature is as much a parody of New Orleans as it is The Wizard of Oz, with the creators clearly poking fun at the city they call home. Frantically paced with one foot dangling in reality, Bourbon Whiz certainly demonstrates how truth can be stranger than fiction. The production features several original songs along with parodic remixes of classics from The Wizard of Oz. These songs cover a variety of genres you’d find playing around New Orleans, including country, rock, techno and blues. Moving quickly from location to location, the feature never dwells on any of its gags long enough for you to get tired of them. A great mix of singing and acting talent combine to create something incredibly expressive. Providing a vision of New Orleans through the lens of The Wizard of Oz, Bourbon Whiz makes for a clever and entertaining experience that’s best enjoyed with friends and a few drinks.