Difference between revisions of "Oz News"
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==June 6, 2018: Jerry Maren 1920-2018==
==June 6, 2018: Jerry Maren 1920-2018==
[[File:Jerry Maren 1939.jpg|left|
[[File:Jerry Maren 1939.jpg|left|px]] Veteran character actor Jerry Maren died today at his home in San Diego. He was 98 years old. Born Gerard Marenghi in Boston, Jerry took to show business early, taking dance lessons and getting noticed. (Contrary to popular belief, Maren did not appear in the all-little people Western musical, ''The Terror of Tiny Town''.) He was finally beckoned to Hollywood to appear as a Munchkin in ''The Wizard of Oz'' after graduating high school, thus beginning his acting career. He garnered worldwide fame as the middle member of the Lollipop Guild, dressed in green, who handed the lollipop to Dorothy. While ''The Wizard of Oz'' may have been his most famous role, his career was just warming up. His next part was opposite the Marx Brothers in ''At the Circus'', and he also worked with ''Our Gang'' and Hope and Crosby (as a chimpanzee) in ''Road to Morocco''. He was also a walking "body double" for both Charlie McCarthy and Mortimer Snerd, and other stunts and doubles through the Golden Age of Hollywood. He was also one of the titular aliens in the Superman serial, ''Superman and the Mole-Men'', with George Reeves. When television took off, Jerry was all over the place, as a regular on ''The Andy Williams Show'' and a guest star on such shows as ''The Beverly Hillbillies'', ''Star Trek'', ''Bewitched'', ''The Wild, Wild West'', ''Julia'', ''Get Smart'', ''The Odd Couple'', and ''Here's Lucy''. He also played a child ape in the original ''Planet of the Apes'' and many characters on Sid & Marty Krofft shows. In advertising, he played Buster Brown, Little Oscar the chef for Oscar Meyer, and many denizens of McDonaldland. He never quite got away from Oz, often guest-starring in stage productions, and appearing as Munchkins in both ''Under the Rainbow'' and a ''The Dreamer of Oz'', as well as appearing at Oz festivals and conventions around the country. He was preceded in death by his beloved wife, Elizabeth. He was the last surviving little person who portrayed a Munchkin.
[[File:Jerry Maren 2000s.jpg|center]]
[[File:Jerry Maren 2000s.jpg|center]]
Revision as of 17:10, 5 July 2018
(I will update this page when there is news to tell. Any news older than a year is dropped at the next update. If you have news to report, please e-mail me.)
- 1 July 2, 2018: The Baum Bugle Spring 2018
- 2 June 6, 2018: Jerry Maren 1920-2018
- 3 May 13, 2018: Margot Kidder 1948-2018
- 4 April 23, 2018: The Baum Bugle Winter 2017 issue
- 5 March 8, 2018: Dorothy Barrett 1917-2018
- 6 December 4, 2017: Lost in Oz Nominated For Annie Award
- 7 November 7, 2017: The Baum Bugle, Autumn 2017 and Oziana 2017
- 8 August 5, 2017: The L. Frank Baum Memorial Award
- 9 July 26, 2017: June Foray, 1917-2017
- 10 Rumor Control
July 2, 2018: The Baum Bugle Spring 2018
In this issue:
- The front cover depicts the Scarecrow, Tin Woodman, and Cowardly Lion in the Mesner Puppets production of The Wizard of Oz.
- The inside covers reproduce the board (front) and box cover (rear) for The Wonderful Game of Oz, first issued by Parker Bros. in 1922.
- Club President Jane Albright talks about her communications with Club members, and Crotzer talks about her history with the Bugle and those who helped her with this issue while introducing herself in "Letters".
- "The Bugle Bulletin" is a new section, highlighting Oz events and developments since the last issue. In this edition:
- The reopening of the Club's store.
- Webinars at the Matilda Joslyn Gage Center, many presented by Oz Club members. (Gage was a noted suffragette and L. Frank Baum's mother-in-law. She was a major influence on his literary career.)
- Club members' items on display at the Oz Museum in Wamego, Kansas, and the All Things Oz Museum in Chittenango, New York.
- June's Journey with Dorothy events at the Land of Oz Park, a former amusement park in North Carolina.
- The Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission honoring Ruth Plumly Thompson and her contributions as a Royal Historian of Oz with a historical marker in her home town of Philadelphia.
- "In Brief":
- Renee Zellweger is playing the title role in the movie Judy, about Judy Garland's final concerts in London.
- The recently named Dorothy Crater on Charon, Pluto's moon.
- Lorna Luft (Judy Garland's second daughter) undergoing successful surgery to remove a brain tumor.
- In "Through the Tube!" the Great Jinjin passes judgement on:
- "Beyond the Shifting Sands" acknowledges the passing of Club members Miriam Goldman, Marian Higbee, and Jack Koelle, as well as the Cowardly Lion's manicurist from The Movie Dorothy Barrett, author Sam Sackett, and, in a stop press, the final MGM Little Person Munchkin Jerry Maren, who will receive a full tribute in the fall issue.
- Jane Albright visits Kansas City's premiere puppet troupe in "Behind the Curtain with the Mesner Puppets' Wizard of Oz!"
- Albright then looks at the history of Oz puppetry in part one of "Pulling Strings".
- David Kelleher reviews an exhibit of Charles Santore work, including his illustrations for The Wizard of Oz, at Philadelphia's the Woodmore Art Museum in "Magic Pictures".
- New editor Nick Campbell explains why he spearheaded the return of the Club's youth newsletter of the 1990s, in "Re-Introducing The Oz Gazette"—followed by the first issue of the Gazette of the twenty-first century, as a four-page insert.
- Bill Thompson looks at the various editions of The Wonderful Game of Oz, issued several times from 1922 to 1939.
- Reviewed in "Oz in the Arts":
- The ballet Dorothy and the Prince of Oz, performed by BalletMet in Columbus, Ohio, reviewed by Scott Cummings.
- The latest play version of The Wizard of Oz, this one put on by Syracuse Stage in New York state, reviewed by Blair Frödelius.
- A new opera about Matilda Joslyn Gage, Pushed Aside: Reclaiming Gage, performed in Syracuse, reviewed by Frödelius. Gage was L. Frank Baum's mother-in-law and an important historical figure in her own right, and Baum appears as a character in the opera.
- "The Bugle Review" reviews the following books:
- Bibliographia Baumiana by W. Neal Thompson, Peter Hanff, and Patrick Maund, reviewed by Paul Bienvenue.
- King Rinkitink by L. Frank Baum and Andrew J. Heller, reviewed by Mari Ness.
- Toto: The Dog-Gone Amazing Story of the Wizard of Oz by Michael Morpurgo, reviewed by Nick Campbell.
- The Prankster of Oz by John R. Rose, reviewed by Joe Bongiorno.
- Big Finish Productions' audio adaptation af The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, reviewed by Sarah K. Crotzer.
- The complete English-language edition of Cinar's The Wonderful Wizard of Oz anime series, reviewed by Garrett Schooling-Kilgore.
- In "Adventures in Oz", Kurt Raymond writes about his fascination with Margaret Hamilton's portrayal of the Wicked Witch of the West, how he started recreating her performance, and where it has taken him.
- The rear cover shows a photograph from the Tulsa Ballet's production of Dorothy and the Prince of Oz.
June 6, 2018: Jerry Maren 1920-2018
May 13, 2018: Margot Kidder 1948-2018
Margot Kidder, the actress best known for her iconic portrayal of Lois Lane opposite Christopher Reeves as Superman in four movies in the 1970s and '80s, passed away today at the age of 69. Born in Yellowknife, Northwest Territories, Canada, a trip to New York City set her on her career path when she saw a performance of Bye Bye Birdie. She worked extensively in both Canada and the United States, but her big break was playing Lois Lane in the first Superman movie, released in 1978. Her career stalled in the '90s, however, as she struggled with personal problems and mental illness, but she managed to turn herself around and kept working, even after becoming an American citizen in 2005 and moving to Montana. Among her many credits, Oz fans remember her as the narrator of the movie compilation versions of the Cinar animated series The Wonderful Wizard of Oz.
April 23, 2018: The Baum Bugle Winter 2017 issue
- A newly colored slide from the 1939 release of The Wizard of Oz, done by Victor Mascaro, on the cover.
- Outgoing editor John Fricke looks back on his year in charge and ahead to the future in "From the Editor".
- Oz Club President Jane Albright thanks those who help the Club and announces the re-opening of the Club's online store in "Thanks Due in Oz".
- In "Oz and Ends":
- "The Oz Trading Post" is reborn on Facebook, and an Oz International server has opened on Discord.
- Wizard of Oz songwriters Harold Arlen and E. Y. Harburg are celebrated in a new book about "Over the Rainbow" and two concerts celebrating Harburg in December of 2017.
- How Oz influenced the end of Margaret Peterson Haddix's Missing series.
- A record turnout for a showing of The Movie in Park Ridge, Illinois.
- The Speakeasy Society of Los Angeles' /latest immersive experience, The Kansas Collection, based on the Oz books.
- The new Wizard of Oz-based clothing line from Wizards of the West.
- The latter-day Oz stories by Roger S. Baum, L. Frank Baum's great-grandson, are being developed as a possible series for Amazon.
- The new animated movie adaptation of the comic book series The Steam Engines of Oz.
- A new series in development for Netflix, Dorothy and Alice.
- A collection of photographs of Ozcot, the Baum family home in Hollywood, is now in the hands of the California History Section collection of the California State Library Foundation.
- Father and son authors John and Jessee Donaldson, who are descendants of L. Frank Baum.
- A new slot game, Land of Ozz, from InBet Games.
- The restaurant Oscar Diggs, named for the Wizards' real name, in Lexington, Kentucky.
- The Play Station Virtual Reality console game Run, Dorothy, Run.
- The Oz Medley mashes up songs from The Wizard of Oz, The Wiz, and Wicked. (There's also a behind-the-scenes video.)
- Miranda Lambert's song Tin Man has surprising connections to Oz (besides the obvious).
- To celebrate fifteen years of Wicked on Broadway, actors Tiffany Haas and Michael McCorry Rose look back at their time in the show in "Glinda and Fiyero on Broadway: Wicked-ly 'Cheek to Cheek'".
- Authors Kent Drummond, Aronstein, and Terri Rittenburg adapt part of their forthcoming book about Wicked in "'My Daughter and I Were Overcome by Emotion': Consumer Responses to Wicked".
- Long thought to have concluded with Tik-Tok of Oz, Michael Patrick Hearn discovers that the 1930s comic strip The Wonderland of Oz ran even longer in some papers with an adaptation of the eleventh Oz book in "A 'Lost Princeess' Found"—as well as reprinting sixteen installments of the strip!
- The four current living charter members of the International Wizard of Oz Club sit down for a collective interview in "Anniversary Recollections: Sixty Years in the Oz Club".
- Michael Gessel reports on the events to honor the fourth Royal Historian, whose grave was previously unmarked, in "A Headstone for a Royal Historian: Honoring Jack Snow".
- Bill Thompson discusses the creation and evolution of his latest book in "The Making of…Bibliographia Oziana—The Book!"
- John Fricke brings his survey of big-time Oz productions up to date in "Magical, Musical Muny (Part Three): How a Blend of Baum and MGM First Came to theStage…and Endured".
- "Adventures in Oz" profiles:
- Actress Ruby Rakos, who plays Judy Garland in the play Chasing Rainbows: The Road to Oz.
- Autograph hound Steven Damm.
- Long-time Oz fan and southern California convention chair Robyn Knutson.
- Oz memorabilia collector Barry Patraw.
- Kindergarten student Rylan Andrews.
- Reviewed (or at least mentioned) in "The Oz Bookshelf":
- Gabriel Gale's Ages of Oz, Volume 1: A Fiery Friendship by Lisa Fiedler, illustrated by Sebastian Giacobino, reviewed by Joe Bongiorno.
- Wild Things: The Joy of Reading Children's Literature as an Adult by Bruce Handy, reviewed by Angelica Carpenter.
- Black-Eyed Susan by Elizabeth Leiknes.
- The Prophecy of Oz: The Victory of Dorothy, the Spirit of the Americas by Rick Spaulding.
- Ruby Slips and Poker Chips: The Modern Tale of Dorothy Gale by Heather Kindt.
- Toto: The Dog-Gone Amazing Story of the Wizard of Oz by Michael Morpurgo.
- The Wicked Hot Wizard of Oz by Mark Pace.
- The Wizard of AAAHHS! by C. T. Henderson.
- The Wizard's Cookbook: Magical Recipes Inspired by Harry Potter, Merlin, The Wizard of Oz, and More by Aurélia Beaupommier.
- The Wonderful Wizard of Oz Colouring Book by Ann Kronheimer.
- "Oz in the Spotlight" looks at the following dramatic productions:
- "The MGM Scrapbook" presents more articles, ads, clippings, and other ephemera relating to the original 1939 release of The Movie.
- The latest laureate of the L. Frank Baum Memorial Award, Scott Cummings, is officially enshrined in the roster of previous winners.
- C. J. Hinke remembers George van Buren, his collaborator on The Classical Wizard: Magus Mirabilis in Oz (the Latin translation of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz) in "In Memoriam".
- "The Magic Picture" reports on 2017's two big Oz conventions:
- Erica Olivera on OzCon International in Portland, Oregon, in "The Wonderful Convention of Oz: A Newcomer's Report".
- Ralph Bunch from Chicago in "Oz—The National Convention".
- The rear cover is a montage of Tiffany Haas and Michael McCorry Rose, both on stage and off, in their roles on Broadway in Wicked.
March 8, 2018: Dorothy Barrett 1917-2018
Dorothy Barrett, a long-time contract player during the Golden Age of Hollywood, died today in Studio City, California. She was 101 years old. In 1939, while working at MGM, she appeared in Gone with the Wind, The Women, and as a manicurist in the Wash and Brush Up Co. in the Emerald City in The Wizard of Oz. She was performing on vaudeville circuits at the age of seven, and appeared in many shows on Broadway before Hollywood beckoned. Later in life, she became a dance and performance teacher, and worked with many students. As late as 2016, she was active in the Studio City performing arts community. She will be interred at Forest Lawn in Glendale.
December 4, 2017: Lost in Oz Nominated For Annie Award
Nominations for the Annie Awards, the highest honor given in the animation industry, were announced today. Lost in Oz, the Amazon Prime series that has already won three Emmy awards, was nominated as Best Animated Television/Broadcast Production For Children. It's competition is Buddy Thunderstruck, Niko and the Sword of Light, Tangled: The Series, and We Bare Bears. You can see the entire list of nominees at http://www.annieawards.org/nominees. The forty-fifth Annie Awards will be presented February 3, 2018 in Los Angeles.
(UPDATE: February 3, 2018: The Annie for Best Animated Television/Broadcast Production for Children went to We Bare Bears.)
November 7, 2017: The Baum Bugle, Autumn 2017 and Oziana 2017
In this issue:
- The front cover features the Fab Five as depicted in the new series Dorothy and the Wizard of Oz, now streaming on the Boomerang website.
- Interim editor John Fricke talks about the issue and what he's been doing this year, including aiding the Smithsonian Institution in restoring and preserving the Ruby Slippers in his "From the Editor" column.
- New Club President Jane Albright outlined her relationship to Oz and the Club in her first column, "Oz Is Us", which includes:
- The appointment of Sarah Crotzer as the new Bugle editor, starting with the Spring 2018 issue.
- The publication of Bibliographia Baumiana, a bibliographic compendium of L. Frank Baum's non-Oz works (that has been in the works for a couple of decades now).
- Among the latest treasures and tidbits uncovered by Jay Davis for "Oz and Ends":
- Funko's Vynl line includes a set of Dorothy and the Scarecrow.
- LEGO minifigs of the Wicked Witch of the West and two flying monkeys are part of The LEGO Batman Movie Ultimate Batmobile Kit (!!!).
- Organic Studios' Masters of Writing series of author-inspired inks introduces L. Frank Baum Emerald Green.
- The Nickelodeon series Nicky, Ricky, Dicky and Dawn has an Oz-themed episode, "The Wizard of Quads".
- The 1987 anime series The Wonderful Wizard of Oz is available in episode format on home video at last!
- The closure of the Great Movie Ride, with its Wicked Witch of the West and other Oz characters, at Walt Disney World's Hollywood Studios park.
- Wicked surpassing The Phantom of the Opera to become Broadway's second highest grossing musical ever (only The Lion King is ahead of it).
- New Oz stage productions:
- The Wizard of Oz from Starlight Village Players in Orinda, California.
- The Bricklayers of Oz by the Dance Crash Company of Chicago.
- West End Bares Oz-themed nude revue Ruby Strippers in London's West End.
- Judy Garland's children, Liza Minnelli and Lorna and Joey Luft, fulfilled a promise made to their mother by having her body reinterred in a new pavilion at the Hollywood Forever cemetery in Los Angeles. Judy had been at the Ferncliff Cemetery in Hartsdale, New York.
- Big Fish unveils their latest Oz-themed computer game, Escape from Oz, for the Mac and PC.
- "Dorothy and the Wizard of Oz…please meet Lyman, Frank, and Wilhelmina" looks behind the scenes at Boomerang's new Oz cartoon (which the Bugle will review in the Winter 2017 issue).
- The original art for the newspaper syndication of The Lost Princess of Oz is discussed in "Behind the Ink: The Wonderful Stories of Oz Artwork".
- Peter E. Hanff looks back at this year's centennial Oz book in "The Mystery of Three Girls in Oz…and the Revisited Pleasures of a Lost Princess".
- "Oz Under Scrutiny" looks at contemporary reviews of The Lost Princess of Oz from 1917.
- Scott Cummings may have discovered the inspiration for the Herkus in a 1921 report from the Los Angeles Herald on athlete Gilbert Neville in "The Little Strong Man of Oz".
- John Fricke looks back at another lost princess of Oz, as portrayed on television in 1960, in "'Lost' Princess—Different Adventure: Remembering Shirley Temple's The Land of Oz".
- Sarah Crotzer interviews the creator of the latest television version of Oz in "Scary, Bizarre, Weird, and Wonderful! Matthew Arnold Talks Emerald City—and about Bringing Baum's Oz to a New Generation".
- Bugle readers offer their comments on the show in "Emerald City Redŭ".
- "Adventures in Oz" profiles five Club members and how Oz has influenced their lives.
- In "Multi-MediOz", Atticus Gannaway reviews The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, performed by Jon Koons and Danielle Manente.
- "The MGM Scrapbook" looks at ads and clippings from The Movie's premiere in 1939, as well as Hedda Hopper's column on her first visit to the set, when Buddy Ebsen was still playing the Tin Man.
- "Oz in the Spotlight" features Sarah Crotzer's review of "Lost in Oz: Season One".
- "The Oz Bookshelf" reviews or acknowledges the publication of several recent books:
- The final two books in Danielle Paige's Dorothy Must Die series, Dorothy Must Die Stories Volume 3 and The End of Oz, both reviewed by Dee Michel.
- Toto's Story: My Amazing Adventures with Dorothy in Oz by Steve Metzger, reviewed by Ron Baxley, Jr.
- The leadership Secrets of Oz by B. J. Gallagher and Ken Balnchard.
- Revisiting Imaginary Worlds, a collection of essays with two Oz-themed entries.
- 1939: Hollywood's Greatest Year by Thomas S. Hischak.
- Baum Ass Stories 2: Gayle Force, edited by Roma Gray (and yes, there is also a volume 1).
- Behind the Emerald Door—The Wizard of Oz: The Untold Truth by Christopher Clay Lord.
- Cozy Classics: L. Frank Baum's The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, adapted by Jack and Holman Wang.
- Crochet Stories: L. Frank Baum's The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by Pat Olski.
- From Oz to Om: The Spiritual Journey Home by Tracy Flynn Bowe.
- Getting Back to Oz 1: Winnie's Courage by Jess Reece.
- Haunting Fairy Tales 4: Wicked Witch by R. L. Weeks.
- Hong Kong Fairy Tales by Larry Feign.
- Kate and Mim-Mim: Kate in Oz by Lana Jacobs.
- Literary Yarns: Crochet Products Inspired by Classic Books by Cindy Wang.
- The Marvelous Wonderland of Oz and Peter of Oz, volumes 4 and 5 of Greg Gick's Oz-Wonderland series.
- The Prankster of Oz by John R. Rose.
- Return from Oz by Gregory Espy.
- The Swagger of Dorothy Gale and Other Filthy Ways to Strut by Sea Sharp.
- Trump versus Glinda: The Secret of Everything #Post-Truth by Scott W. Webb.
- Wanted by Betsy Schow.
- The Wizard of Oz Coloring Book by Charles Santore.
- The "Wonderful" Wizard of Futhermucking Oz by Matt Youngmark.
- "The Magic Picture" reports on recent Oz events around the country, including:
- Oz on the Bayou 2017 in Houma, Louisiana, reported by Karen Diket.
- Croppin' in Oz, an Oz-themed scrapbooking event in Sulphur, Louisiana, also reported on by Karen Diket.
- Oz-Stravaganza 2017 in Chittenango, New York, reported by David Moyer.
- Many Oz Club members shared their stories of Oz Club supemember Robin Olderman, who passed away in April, in "Robin Remembered".
- And the back cover features a portrait of Adria Arjona as Dorothy in Emerald City, wearing the Ruby Gauntlets.
- David Bishop provides the front cover illustration, entitled "On the Shores of Skeezer Lake".
- Jack Pumpkinhead is having a bad day in "Angry Jack" by Sara Philips, illustrated by Emilee Philips.
- A stream-of-consciousness recollection of Scraps entitled "Patchworked Memory", written and illustrated by Grace Willey.
- Dorothy learns more about her first trip to Oz in "The Road Not Taken" by E. J. Hagadorn, with illustrations by Dennis Anfuso.
- Red Reera the Yookoohoo doesn't want another visit from Ervic in "Unsociable" by S. A. Samuelson, illustrated by David Bishop.
- Grace Willey's back cover is entitled "Button Bright Finds a Peach Pit".
Unlike The Baum Bugle, which is sent only to Club members, anyone can buy Oziana just by going right here.
August 5, 2017: The L. Frank Baum Memorial Award
This evening, the International Wizard of Oz Club presented it's highest award, the L. Frank Baum Memorial Award, to Scott Cummings. Cummings served as editor of the Club's journal, The Baum Bugle, for many years, producing some of its most memorable issues. He is also a tireless researcher who keeps finding out new things about Oz, and frequent con chair (including this year's National Oz Convention in the Chicago area). Congratulations, Scott!
July 26, 2017: June Foray, 1917-2017
Perhaps the greatest and most prolific of voice actors, June Foray passed away today at the age of 99 (only 54 days short of her 100th birthday). Although still working well into her nineties, Foray had been in declining health the last two years, particularly after a 2015 auto accident. Anyone who has ever watch cartoons probably has heard her voice. Among her many, many roles were Lucifer the Cat in Cinderella (her first voiceover job) and Grandmother Fa in Mulan for Disney; Granny, Witch Hazel, and Miss Prissy for Warner Bros.; Splinter and Knothead in the Woody Woodpecker cartoons; Cindy Lou Who in How the Grinch Stole Christmas; and stints in shows ranging from Mr. Magoo to The Simpsons. She was even the voice of Betty Rubble in the original pilot for The Flintstones, and Talky Tina in the "Living Doll" episode of The Twilight Zone (a take-off on her earlier work as the voice of the original Chatty Cathy doll). She will probably be best known, however, for her work with Jay Ward, where she voiced Nell in Dudley Do-Right, Ursula in George of the Jungle, Marigold in Tom Slick, and Rocky the Squirrel and Natasha Fatale in The Bullwinkle Show. Among her credits was the 1967-68 MGM anthology series Off to See the Wizard, in which June was the voice of Dorothy (as seen in the clip below) and the Wicked Witch of the West, alongside fellow voiceover icons Mel Blanc, Daws Butler, and Don Messick.
She was often compared to the equally prolific Mel Blanc, but the legendary cartoon producer Chuck Jones (who was in charge of the animated segments of Off to See the Wizard) said, "June Foray is not the female Mel Blanc. Mel Blanc is the male June Foray."
(Because of the many questions I am asked about possible forthcoming Oz projects or other bits of pseudo-news, I have added this section to answer some of these inquiries.)
There is now a release date for the movie adaptation of the Broadway musical version of Wicked: December 20, 2019. This is still subject to change, but an announced date is a good sign. Winnie Holzman, who wrote the book of the play, is working on the script, and the composer, Stephan Schwartz, is arranging the music (and probably writing a new song or two). No casting announcements have been made yet.
Reports of Jerry Maren's death on February 29, 2016, are false. The last little person to play a Munchkin in The Movie, he is still alive and kicking and, unlike the reports saying it, does not have cancer.
Okay, yes, word has leaked out that Warner Bros. tried to talk Robert Zemeckis into directing a remake of The Wizard of Oz, using the same screenplay as the famous 1939 Judy Garland version. Zemeckis already rejected the idea. This probably puts the idea on the back burner for a while, and based on the extreme negative reaction the idea got, I suspect it will stay there. Rumors of this have surfaced again, but appear to be the result of someone finding the old story and running it again.
It's getting harder and harder to keep up with all of the currently planned Oz movie and television projects. Bear in mind that at this stage, most of it is speculation and/or not even in pre-production, or possibly even a game of "Telephone". But here are some of the current Oz movies that could be coming to your local theater in the next few years:
- The Road to Oz, a movie biopic about the life of L. Frank Baum and how he created Oz, starring Eddie Redmayne as Frank. (See reports here and here.)
- Dark Oz 3-D, based on the old Caliber comic book.
- A non-musical, faithful adaptation of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz from New Line and Temple Hill.
- The Oz Wars, which would have the witches fighting for control of the Emerald City while the Wizard leads the resistance.
- John Boorman's animated adaptation of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz seems to be on track for release — in France. Once it's released, an English-language release will likely come out soon afterwards. (However, in a recent interview, Boorman admitted that the project has stalled due to lack of funding.)
- Oz: Return to the Emerald City was one of two possible competing projects at Warner Bros. This original sequel may now be shopped around to other studios, or turned into a novel.
- The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, a low-budget independent production from Barnyard Studios and Used Productions. This is very much a shoestring production, which is looking for money and actors. But its Kickstarter campaign to raise the last money it needed was a success, so it may be finished soon.
- Legend of Oz, a modern retelling of The Wizard of Oz from Valley Wind Productions in Ottawa.
- Oz, a new telling of The Wizard of Oz.
- A still unnamed horror movie set in the 1920s with Dorothy meeting Alice in Bedlam Asylum.
- Young Santa., based on L. Frank Baum's book The Life and Adventures of Santa Claus and directed by Sean McNamara.
- How the Wizard Came to Oz, based on two books by Donald Abbott.
- Not entirely Oz, strictly speaking, but the Judy Garland biography Get Happy may be made into a movie, featuring Anne Hathaway as Garland.
And it's not limited to movies any more. In development for television:
- Red Brick Road, a television series continuation of The Wizard of Oz in the style of Game of Thrones. The latest word is that this is being developed for the Lifetime channel.
- Dorothy, an Oz-themed medical drama in development at CBS
- Dorothy Must Die, in which Dorothy has returned to Oz and become a dictator, in development at the CW. This would be based on the book series of the same name.
- Warriors of Oz, a post-apocalyptic version in development at Syfy.
- A Wicked television miniseries, based on the original book (not the stage musical). Salma Hayak was attached to this as a producer. When last heard of, it was under development at ABC.
No, Peter Jackson is not producing or directing a billion-dollar all-CGI remake of The Wizard of Oz for Warner Bros. How do stories like this get started? Oh, maybe in stories like this...
In recent years, there have been proposals for other Oz or related projects, none of which now appear that they will get off the ground. Among them:
- Lost in Oz, a series that was to feature Melissa George as a Kansas university student who is whisked to Oz sixty years after the events of The Wizard of Oz (The Movie) and helping to spearhead a rebellion against the new Wicked Witch of the West. Although developed for the WB and a pilot film produced, it was never picked up, nor the pilot shown. (But keep an eye out on auction sites, as a bootleg DVD sometimes shows up…)
- A telelvision miniseries based on Gregory Maguire's novel Wicked, with Demi Moore in the title role. (There are stories that the people developing this version later pushed their involvement into the musical version now playing on Broadway and elsewhere.)
- The O. Z., a hip-hop flavored re-telling of The Wizard of Oz for Fox. Among the rumored Dorothy's at one point were Brandy, Mya, and the late Aaliyah. Justin Timberlake, John Leuizamo, and Little Richard were mentioned for other parts.
- Surrender Dorothy. Drew Barrymore as Dorothy's great-granddaughter coming to Oz, and battling the Wicked Witch of the West's granddaughter. (Rumors of this recently resurfaced, but were quickly squelched. This project is dead.)
- Somewhere starring Elizabeth Taylor as Dorothy, now a grandmother, returning to Oz. The deaths of both Taylor and developer Rod Steiger means this is unlikely to ever happen.
- Pamela West, where the Wicked Witch is the innocent victim and Dorothy (with Toto as a pit bull) is the evil interloper.
- The Land of Oz (not based on the book of the same name), produced by Hallmark for NBC. This eventually became the basis for the Sci Fi Channel miniseries Tin Man.
- The Life and Adventures of Santa Claus from Circa Pictures. It's no longer listed on their website.
- The Life and Adventures of Santa Claus from Hyde Park Entertainment and Toonz Entertainment.
- A Bollywood adaptation of The Wizard of Oz in India.
- A movie version of American McGee's (later cancelled) Oz video game.
- Geoff Ryman's Was.
If progress is made on any of these projects, such as actually going into production or a release date announced, the news will be posted as quickly as possible on this page. But at this stage, any of these going into production is very unlikely. (However, Tin Man was part of this list for some time before its eventual completion and broadcast on the Sci-Fi Channel.)