Category Archives: Oz in Pop Culture

Oz in the News 2.1.19

Massive Oz collection to go on show for seniors week Dorothy Overton never liked her name. But falling in love with The Wizard of Oz changed all that. Now Ms Overton is regarded as Australia’s biggest collector of Wizard of Ozmemorabilia – and you can check out some of her most prized possessions this month. The 75-year-old will display items like teapots, dolls, plates and more for seniors week. “I’ve picked up things from across Australia and overseas,” Ms Overton said. Ms Overton’s memorabilia will be displayed at the Funland for seniors week from Tuesday, February 19 to Friday, February 22, 9am-2pm daily. 

How Three Ballet Companies Joined Forces to Bring The Magical World of “The Wizard of Oz” to Life On Friday, Colorado Ballet will present the company premiere of Septime Webre‘s The Wizard of Oz, a ballet they produced jointly with Kansas City Ballet and Royal Winnipeg Ballet (KCB presented the world premiere back in October, and RWB will have their turn this May). The three companies split the costs of creating the full-length story ballet, which includes an original score by Matthew Pierce; 120 colorful costumes (plus 112 hats!) designed by Liz Vandal; projection technology and flying effects; and puppetry (including a puppet Toto) by Nicholas Mahon, who recently worked on the opening ceremony for the 2018 Winter Olympics. The result is a major new production none of the companies likely would have been able to pull off on their own.

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 1.10.19

Virgil Abloh’s Louis Vuitton SS19 Collection to Debut at Chrome Hearts Pop-Up Hosted by New York’s Chrome Hearts flagship store, the “temporary residency” will include a limited selection of items from the forthcoming collection, including thematic Wizard of Oz goods. A “Brick Road” crew neck sweater, poppies & Dorothy-emblazoned windbreaker and a metallic silver poncho inspired by the Tin Man, crafted from treated leather and paper. Visit the Chrome Hearts flagship from January 10 onward to shop a curated selection of Louis Vuitton SS19 goods before they arrive at global LV stores.

Oz in the News 1.5.19

Elizabeth Letts Finds the Wizard Behind Oz We all need a bit of magic from time to time,” Maud Gage Baum says to the young Judy Garland in Elizabeth Letts’s new novel, Finding Dorothy (Ballantine, Feb.). Maud—the widow of Wizard of Oz creator L. Frank Baum and the indefatigable central character of Letts’s story—is a woman profoundly familiar with both the importance of magic and the endless challenges of creating it. Warm, articulate, and fiercely intelligent, Letts feels as vibrantly present as if she were sitting across the table, though our conversation is being conducted remotely—Letts in her California home, me in North Carolina. Letts’s novel moves fluidly between two phases of Maud Baum’s life: her long relationship with Frank Baum (from their meeting in 1880 through the completion of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz in 1899) and the adaptation of the book into film two decades after Frank’s death. The larger-than-life Baum—a ferociously inventive, optimistic, and talented man who failed in theatrical, publishing, and retailing ventures before Oz became a bestseller in 1900—comes effervescently to life in Letts’s pages, and his creative vision forges the most obvious link between her novel’s two narratives. Yet it’s a chain of female mentorship that forms the most memorable connections in the novel. As the younger Maud raises four sons and keeps her family afloat amid endless financial vicissitudes, she feels a deep bond with Magdalena, her sister Julia Carpenter’s daughter and one possible inspiration for the character of Dorothy. “The Carpenters homesteaded in Dakota Territory, where the Baums also lived for a time. Julia Carpenter’s diary offered me so many small useful details, and I’m grateful to have had the chance to explore the area where they lived myself,” Letts says. “When I visited the library in Aberdeen, where Frank opened a short-lived store, the staff let me sit and look through boxes of Baum family memorabilia spanning decades of their lives. Maud’s lace and stationery, lots of family photographs: it was touching those things, and seeing those places, that really brought the story to life for me.”

Vaquera Is Taking On The Wizard of Oz at MoMA PS1 Since its start seven years ago, Vaquera has mined culture high and low, producing nontraditional fashion shows inspired by, among other things, high school; religious iconography and casinos; status symbols like Tiffany & Co. bags and the American flag; and the Margaret Atwood classic, The Handmaid’s Tale. The trio composed of Patric DiCaprio, Bryn Taubensee, and Claire Sully will continue its brand of “fashion fan fiction” into 2019 with a performance at MoMA PS1 this April consisting of a stage reinterpretation of The Wizard of Oz. Titled “Ding Dong the Witch Is Dead,” it will riff on L. Frank Baum’s original text, film productions of the book, and the musical Wicked, as well as other modern retellings. Vaquera’s performance is scheduled for 4:00 p.m. on Sunday, April 28, promising a cast of artist, model, and actor collaborators. As for the show itself, the trio says, “We will deconstruct what it is about the characters from The Wizard of Oz that have resonated with so many people . . . . You can expect something wild and bizarre.”

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.