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(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.)

"There's no place like the home page."

(For more Oz news, check out The Daily Ozmopolitan. For the latest Oz not-quite-news, see the Rumor Control section of this page.)


August 11, 2019: Charles Santore 1935-2019

Santore Oz.jpeg
Acclaimed illustraton Charles Santore, best known for his reimaginations of classic children's stories, died today from undisclosed causes. He was 84. His teachers in Philadelphia recognized his artistic talents at an early age and encouraged him to pursue a life in art. He started off in commercial art, his works appearing in many advertisements and magazines, including a number of celebrity portraits on the cover of TV Guide in the 1970s. In 1985, a publisher approached Santore about creating new illustrations for Peter Rabbit, and a new stage of his career opened up. As well as Peter Rabbit, he created new illustrations for Alice in Wonderland, Aesop's Fables, The Night Before Christmas, The Velveteen Rabbit, and an acclaimed edition of The Wizard of Oz, first published in 1991. His original works are now in many museums, including the New York Museum of Modern Art, the National Portrait Gallery, and the Brandywine Rivers Museum in Pennsylvania. In 1972, he was awarded the Hamilton King award from the New York Society of Illustrators. He also received a gold medal from the New York Society of Publication Designers, and an Edgar from the Mystery Writers of America.

(Information courtesy of WHYY and Wikipedia.)

July 27, 2019: The 2019 Winkie Award

Tonight, OzCon International presented its highest honor, the Winkie Award, to John L. Bell. Bell has helped the convention a lot in recent years by coordinating daytime programming and lining up speakers and events. He is also a tireless Oz researcher and writer who has contributed to both The Baum Bugle and Oziana. Heartfelt congratulations to a well-deserving recipient!

June 23, 2019: William F. Brown, 1928-2019

William F. Brown, a longtime show business writer, died today in Westport, Connecticut. He was 91. Cutting his writing teeth in Look magazine and advertising in the 1950s, he later amassed a number of television writing credits on shows such as The Ed Sullivan Show, The Johnny Carson Show, and Love American Style. He also wrote some books and the comic strip Boomer. He attempted to write Broadway plays, but The Girl in the Freudian Slip, How to Steal an Election, and A Broadway Musical never had successful runs. His only success on the stage was The Wiz, which ran for many years and earned him a Tony Award nomination for Best Book of a Musical.

Brown is survived by his wife, Tina Tippit.

(Information courtesy Theatermania.)

June 22, 2019: The 2019 L. Frank Baum Memorial Award

Bill Beem (right) receives the 2019 L. Frank Baum Memorial Award from last year's winner, Bill Thompson. (Photo courtesy of Bill Thompson.)

The International Wizard of Oz Club presented its highest honor, the L. Frank Baum Memorial Award, to Bill Beem tonight during the Club's National Convention in Thibodeaux, Louisiana. A long-time Club member, Bill has been a quiet presence behind-the-scenes at Club meetings and conventions for decades now. He exhibited many items from his collection at the 2000 Centennial Convention and the 2012 National Convention, and chaired the 2006 Ozmapolitan Convention. He has also helped with programming at many Oz events, and served the Club on the Board of Directors and recording secretary. This is a richly deserved award which couldn't go to a better recipient.

June 9, 2019: The 73rd Tony Awards

Two actors with longtime associations with Oz received their first Tony Awards tonight, presented by the American Theater Wing for excellence in Broadway productions. Andre De Shields, who originated the title role in The Wiz in 1975, won the award for Best Performance by a Featured Actor in a Musical for playing Hermes in Hadestown. He gave a moving acceptance speech:

Later, winning the award for Best Performance by a Leading Actress in a Musical was Stephanie J. Block. Back in 2000, she was the first actress to play Elphaba in Wicked, at the earliest readings. She went on to understudy Idina Menzel in the San Francisco tryouts and earliest Broadway performances before taking the lead on the first national tour, and eventually taking the lead on Broadway. She won her award for playing the title role in The Cher Show. Here's her acceptance speech:

Wicked also had a shoutout during the presentation for The Prom (introduced by Broadway's original Wicked Glinda, Kristin Chenoweth, no less), with "Elphy and Glinda" getting a mention, as seen here:

April 12, 2019: The Baum Bugle Winter 2018

The latest issue of The Baum Bugle, the journal of the International Wizard of Oz Club is now being sent out to members, who should see it appearing in mailboxes all over the world in the coming weeks. This is the final issue of 2018 membership, so those who get this and wish to keep receiving the Bugle will want to send in their renewal form and dues soon.

In this issue:

  • All four covers celebrate the one hundredth anniversary of The Tin Woodman of Oz:
    • The front cover features a Tin Woodman puppet designed by Matzilla Duron, stepping out of a pristine first edition of the book.
    • The inside front cover reproduces John R. Neill's color plate from the novel, depicting the Tin Woodman's introduction to the Tin Soldier.
    • The inside back cover displays an impressive number of Tin Woodman dolls and other memorabilia from the collection of Oz Club President Jane Albright.
    • The back cover shows Michael Herring's original painting for the 1981 Del Rey edition of The Tin Woodman of Oz.
  • The Table of Contents shows a version of the Tin Woodman drawn by Michael Ploog as a design for Return to Oz (1985).
  • "Letters" has notices from Jane Albright about the state of the Club, encouraging members to renew; and Bugle editor Sarah K. Crotzer writes about the issue and her personal connection to The Tin Woodman of Oz.
  • In "The Bugle Bulletin":
    • The cancellation of the Cartoon Network/Boomerang series Dorothy and the Wizard of Oz, and the inclusion of Sir Hokus of Pokes, the first television of a character created by Ruth Plumly Thompson, in the final episode.
    • The imminent opening of the Academy Museum, which will include an initial exhibit on The Wizard of Oz, including the Academy's pair of Ruby Slippers.
    • Judy Garland's blonde wig from the first few weeks of filming (that were eventually abandoned and reshot), a production archive for The Movie, and one of Margaret Hamilton's Wicked Witch hats all sold at auction in 2018.
    • The Cowardly Lion of Oz entering public domain at last, after Congress did not extend copyrights again following passage of the Copyright Term Extension Act of 1998.
    • Centennial Park in Holland, Michigan has plans to install an Oz-themed area, in commemoration of L. Frank Baum's time in the area at the start of his writing career.
    • The Oz theme at this year's San Diego County Fair in California, in commemoration of L. Frank Baum's time in the area not long after establishing himself as a writer.
    • The unveiling of a mural of Judy Garland by artist Levi Ponce at Theatre West in Los Angeles, California.
    • The Oxford English Dictionary adding the phrase "not in Kansas anymore".
    • Researchers at the University of Turin concluded that The Wizard of Oz is the most influential movie of all time, in a study published in the journal Applied Network Science.
    • New translations of The Wizard of Oz have now come out in Cornish, Hawaiian, Irish, and North-East Scots, all from Evertype Publishing. (Word is that an Esperanto version is forthcoming.)
    • "Through the Tube!" presents the following Oz videos found on YouTube:
    • After a year and a half of restoration and conservation, the Ruby Slippers are back on display at the Smithsonian's National Museum of American History.
    • The January and February 2019 Fathom Events showings of The Wizard of Oz grossed $2 million at the box office, setting a new box office record for event cinema.
    • The West Philadelphia home of Royal Historian Ruth Plumly Thompson received a historical marker.
    • Those who have been involved with Oz who have recently passed away:
      • Stan Lee, the famed Marvel Comics editor and creator, who was a driving force behind Marvel's Treasury edition comic adaptations of The Wizard of Oz and The Land of Oz in the 1970s.
      • Susan Morse, the singing voice of Dorothy in the 1964 TV special Return to Oz.
      • Fred Patten, an early member of the International Wizard of Club and participant in the earliest Winkie Conventions, chairing the convention in 1968.
  • "Awards and Honors" acknowledges those Club members who have contributed above and beyond their regular memberships in 2018, and lists the prior recipients of the L. Frank Baum Memorial Award.
  • Jane Albright writes an appreciation of Bill Thompson, the 2018 recipient of the L. Frank Baum Memorial Award.
  • Sarah K. Crotzer writes about her favorite Oz book in "The Rescue of the Tin Woodman: An Appreciation".
  • "Men of Heart: A Song for Five Voices" interviews the creators of four different adaptations of the story of Nick Chopper:
  • "The Beginner's Guide to Oz Book Collecting" lists some important editions of The Tin Woodman of Oz that collectors may want to look for.
  • J. L. Bell examines the themes of The Tin Woodman of Oz in "Meat Glue".
  • A call for the whereabouts of original art from the Oz books, to be catalogued at https://www.lostartofoz.com/.
  • "Oz Under Scrutiny" takes an extensive look at contemporary reviews and other articles about The Tin Woodman of Oz.
  • Dina Schiff Massachi looks at Todrick Hall's visual album Straight Outta Oz, particularly how Hall interprets the Tin Woodman, in "Metal Malleable Male".
  • A link to a gallery of depictions of the Tin Woodman, "100 Years, 100 in Men".
  • In "Oz in the Arts":
    • The Wizard of Oz ballet in Kansas City, Missouri, back in October, reviewed by Paul Miles Schneider.
    • A children's theater production of Ozma of Oz in Arlington, Virginia in December, reviewed by Michael Gessel.
    • Scraps, a new play, in Chicago in September, reviewed by Carrie Hedges.
    • The Wizard of Oz on stage in Aurora, Illinois, over the holiday season, reviewed by Steve Smith.
    • A performance art adaptation of The Wizard of Oz in a London cemetery last July, reviewed by Nick Campbell.
    • The Chronicles of Oz podcast, so far having adapted the first two Oz books, reviewed by Jared Davis.
  • A call for Club members to share photos of any events they may go to this year to celebrate the eightieth anniversary of the famous MGM film adaptation of The Wizard of Oz.
  • Books presented in "The Bugle Review":
  • Patty Tobias and daughter Kate Koelle remember former Club President, Bugle editor, and L. Frank Baum Memorial Award winner Barbara Koelle, who passed away in 2018.
  • A call to fill the job of designer for the Bugle.
  • And finally, the preview for the next issue promises to reveal how the Smithsonian Institution has been taking care of its pair of Ruby Slippers, information on collecting Reilly and Britton's "Children's Stories That Never Grow Old" series, and the conclusion (at last!) on an earlier story about Oz puppetry.

There is a lot more in the envelope than the Bugle! Inserts include:

  • The latest issue of the revived Oz Gazette, with all the latest news and gossip straight from the Emerald City.
  • Summaries of many Oz events around the country in the summer of 2018.
  • A call for submissions to the Oz Club's annual contests for fiction, non-fiction, and art, with cash prizes.
  • Registration forms for this year's Oz: The National Convention in Thibodeaux, Louisiana; and OzCon International in Pomona, California.
  • Since this is the final issue of the 2018 membership year, a renewal form is enclosed.
  • A flyer for the Club's latest publication, Bibliographia Baumiana.
  • A charming Polychrome paper doll.

November 13, 2018: The Baum Bugle Autumn 2018, and Oziana 2018

The two latest magazines from the International Wizard of Oz Club—the Club's journal and its annual literary magazine—are both now available.

The Baum Bugle is published three times a year and goes to all members of the International Wizard of Oz Club. While the timely delivery of issues has slipped a little bit this year, coming this late in the cover season is still a major accomplishment considering how late delivery of the Bugle has been is the past.

In this issue:

  • The front cover features Wicked composer Stephen Schwartz, who in interviewed in this issue.
  • The inside cover features scenes of the Frisch Marionettes' production of The Wizard of Oz, reviewed inside.
  • "Letters" features Club President Jane Albright and Bugle editor Sarah K. Crotzer talking about the state of the Club and the Bugle.
  • In "The Bugle Bulletin":
    • The Ruby Slippers, stolen from a Minnesota museum in 2005, have been found!
    • In Wicked news, the film version has been pushed back, the West End production in London hit its five thousandth performance, and NBC showed A Very Wicked Halloween fifteenth anniversary special on October 29.
    • Mego, which first made Wizard of Oz action figures back in the '70s, is back with a Dorothy and Wicked Witch two-pack and the Cowardly Lion, available exclusively at Target.
    • The wedding of Emma Ridley, best known to Oz fans for playing Ozma in Disney's 1985 movie Return to Oz.
    • Prince Harry and Megan Markle adopted a black Labrador retriever and named it Oz.
    • Commemorating fifteen years of Wicked, the Barbie Signature Collection has issued Barbie versions of Elphaba and Glinda.
    • The book Toto: The Dog-Gone Amazing Story of the Wizard of Oz by Michael Morpurgo has been optioned for a movie by Warner Animation Group.
    • Kermit the Frog will appear as the Wizard in the holiday play The Wonderful Winter of Oz in Pasadena, California.
    • The stop motion animated movie The Tin Woods, successfully funded on Kickstarter.
    • Of interest on YouTube:
    • Recently passed away: Gary Kurtz, executive producer of Return to Oz; Carole Shelley, who originated the role of Madame Morrible in Wicked on Broadway; longtime Oz fan and Club member Jack Vincent; Will Vinton, Claymation animator who supervised the creation of the Nomes in Return to Oz; and Helen Younger, owner of Aleph-Bet Books where many collectors found rare Oz books over the years.
  • Michael Gessel remembers one of Oz's crankiest but most steadfast fans in "Harlan Ellison, 1934-2018" (alongside a video essay by Ellison about Oz).
  • Willard Carroll remembers the recently deceased Jerry Maren, the last little person who played a Munchkin in The Wizard of Oz in "Punching Above His Weight—and Height". There's also a video of the Lollipop Guild with their original voices, including Jerry's.
  • Brady Schwind interviews the man behind the music of Wicked in "The Wizard and I: On the Road with Stephen Schwartz".
  • Schwartz' original outline for Act I of Wicked, which didn't turn out exactly as it did on stage (act II can be found in the second edition of Defying Gravity: The Creative Career of Stephen Schwartz, from Godspell to Wicked).
  • "Unfilmed Oz" looks at the late Rob Roy MacVeigh's animated adaptation of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz.
  • Jay Scarfone and William Stillman look at the creation and production of their latest book in "Journey to The Road to Oz".
  • In The Oz Gazette, the journal-for-younger-Oz-fans-within-the-journal:
    • "Powder of Life Lets Loose on Locals" summarizes some of the events of The Marvelous Land of Oz.
    • Managing Editor Dorothy Gale writes a chatty "Editorial".
    • "Drama! Excitement! Romance! Tragedy!" looks at the theatrical career of L. Frank Baum.
    • The Scarecrow reviews Mary Poppins by P. L. Travers.
    • Glinda explains when a witch is not a witch.
    • The Wizard is interviewed.
    • The Hungry Tiger opens a restaurant.
    • And in an insert, you can make a Jack Pumpkinhead marionette.
  • Angelica Shirley Carpenter talks about the research on her recent book about L. Frank Baum's mother-in-law in "Looking for Matilda".
  • In "Oz in the Arts":
    • The Wizard of Oz at the Messner Puppet Theatre in Bonner Springs, Kansas (which you can see parts of here and here), reviewed by Nick Campbell.
    • The Wizard of Oz by the Frisch Marionette Company in Nashville, Tennessee (which you can see parts of here and here, reviewed by Sarah Crotzer.
    • The Wizard of Oz play at the Orchard Theatre, Dartford, Kent, in the United Kingdom, reviewed by Michael O'Connor.
    • The Wiz at Ford's Theatre in Washington, DC, and The Muny in St. Louis, Missouri, reviewed by Lynn Beltz (with clips you can view here, here, here, and here).
  • Books appearing in "The Bugle Review":
  • In "Adventures in Oz", Randy Struthers details how he tracked down a star-tipped wand Billie Burke used in some publicity photos as Glinda.
  • The back inside cover has illustrations from Rob Roy MacVeigh's unproduced animated adaptation of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz.
  • The rear cover is a portrait of Jerry Maren in recent years, still carrying a lollipop.

And in the 2018 issue of Oziana, the Oz Club's literary magazine:
  • Hailing from Scotland, cover artist Brian Russell illustrates "Omby's Sword Dance".
  • Momina Arif presents a shape poem in "The Brains, the Heart, the Courage, and Home".
  • "The Strongman of Oz" by Jared Davis, with illustrations by Sam Milazzo, tells the story of one of the Wizard's old circus colleagues, and how he is ensnared by a witch to get revenge on the Wizard.
  • "The Fabulous Frogman and the Faith of Freakish Friends" by Joe Bongiorno, illustrated by Darrell Spradlyn, is a sequel to "The Final Fate of the Frogman" from the 1990 issue, and details how his friends found the Frogman after that story and brought him back into their inner circle.
  • Finally, Kim McFarland provides a back cover illustration.

Oziana 2018 can be ordered from Lulu.com. Anyone, not just Oz Club members, may order a copy.

September 4, 2018: Ruby Slippers Found!

A pair of ruby slippers, stolen from the Judy Garland Museum in Grand Rapids, Minnesota, in 2005, have been recovered. The Grand Rapids police and the FBI's Minneapolis division worked together, enlisting the aid of the Smithsonian Institution, and announced the recovery today. While the investigation is still ongoing, it quickly transpired that the insurance company that paid out after their theft from the museum in Judy Garland's birthplace had been contacted about the slippers. It quickly became evident that the person was trying to extort money from the insurance company. Law enforcement became involved, and a sting operation was created to recover the shoes and arrest the perpetrators. The Smithsonian, at the time restoring their own pair of the shoes, was called in to authenticate the shoes, which they did.

It is not yet known if or when the slippers will go back on display.

(Information courtesy the BBC, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (here, too), and the Smithsonian Institution's National Museum of American History.

Rumor Control

(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.)

The previously announced release date for the movie adaptation of the Broadway musical version of Wicked turns out to have been premature. Universal recently changed their planned release for December 19, 2019, from Wicked to Cats. So the Wicked movie is on hold again, but it is still in development, and aiming for a December 22, 2021 release.

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.)

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