Oz News

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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.)


July 18, 2015: The Baum Bugle, Spring 2015


The latest issue of The Baum Bugle, the journal of the International Wizard of Oz Club, has now been printed and is showing up in some member's mailboxes. This is a special issue devoted to W. W. Denslow, the first Royal Illustrator of Oz, and at ninety-two pages, it's one of the longest issues ever. And the initial letters to each article, usually from an Oz set originally designed by Bill Eubanks, were from designs by Denslow himself.

In this issue:

  • The front cover adapts a panel from the Denslow's Scarecrow and the Tin-Man comic page from 1905.
  • Cynthia Ragni takes over the explanation of the issue and its genesis in "Letter from the Guest Editor". (Yes, this particular pastry has two chefs.)
  • Club President Carrie Hedges discusses Ozma's Honor Roll and this summer's Winkie Convention in her "OZervations" column.
  • In "Oz and Ends", editor Jared Davis finds all kinds of interesting bits of Oziana:
    • Three new movies are in various stages of release: Guardianes de Oz, an animated movie already released in Mexico and scheduled to come out in English as Wicked Flying Monkeys; Yellow Brick Road, an original animated sequel to The Wizard of Oz; and Universal's continuing plans to shepherd a film version of Wicked (they're being cautious and trying to do it right rather than quickly, so it may still be a few years).
    • On Cartoon Network's Adult Swim show Black Dynamite, "The Wizard of Watts" spoofs the film versions of both The Wizard of Oz and The Wiz.
    • Nike introduces Wizard of Oz-themed skateboard shoes.
    • NBC announces their third annual live holiday musical, The Wiz Live.
    • A new documentary about the music from The Movie, The Sound of Oz.
    • The new Yellow Brick Road Casino in upstate New York, near where L. Frank Baum was born.
  • Jane Albright researches Denslow's time in Bermuda, including the ownership of his own island, in "Reigning as King on Denslow Island".
  • Bill Campbell examines Denslow's early career, up to 1900, in "Denslow's Development: The Winding Road to the Wizard".
  • Michael Patrick Hearn looks at Denslow's other comic page, Billy Bounce, in "Denslow and His Weekly Bounce", alongside with two installments of the comic.
  • Michael Gessel looks at the original Denslow works in private collections and how they got there in "The Denslow Archives Mystery".
  • Cynthia Ragni makes a pilgrimage to the Roycroft studios in New York state, where Denslow had a big influence, in "A Little Journey to East Aurora: In Search of W. W. Denslow".
  • Holly Dennis-Lucas compiles "A Checklist of W. W. Denslow Postcards".
  • Bill Thompson focuses a "Lens on Denslow: Denslow's Picture Book Series".
  • Cynthia Ragni returns with "Denslow's Advertising Trading Cards of the 1880s: New Finds".
  • Bill Thompson is back with many updates to the Bugle's earlier Denslow checklists with (naturally enough) "W. W. Denslow: A Checklist Update".
  • Cynthia Ragni shows up again to look at Denslow's connections with Elbert Hubbard and his colleagues in "W. W. Denslow and the Roycrafters" and "A Checklist of Denslow's Roycroft Work".
  • Holly Dennis-Lucas looks at Denslow's final work and the end of both his career and life in "W. W. Denslow: Life After Death—'How Perfectly Absurd!'".
  • In "The Oz Illustrator", Donald Abbott tells the story of "How Art Saved the Wizard of Oz".
  • Reviewed in "The Oz Bookshelf":
  • "In Memoriam" looks back at the life of Leonid Viktorovich Vladimirsky, the illustrator and latter-day author of the Russian Oz-in-all-but-name Magic Land books.
  • "Ozmusements" presents a W. W. Denslow-themed crossword puzzle.
  • And the back cover reproduces twelve of Denslow's covers for books published by Rand McNally in the 1890s.

April 18, 2015: Leonid Viktorovich Vladimirsky 1920-2015

Leonid Vladimirsky.jpg

Leonid Viktorovich Vladimirsky, the illustrator and latter-day author of Russia's Magic Land series, passed away today at the age of 94. Born in Moscow, then the capital of the newly created USSR, he originally trained as an engineer, but after serving in the Soviet Army during World War II, he switched to animation. He worked on an animated version of the Pinocchio-inspired character Buratino, which led to him illustrating a new edition of the book in 1956. Three years later, he illustrated a new edition of The Wizard of the Emerald City by his neighbor, Aleksandr Volkov. This proved to be so popular that Volkov wrote five more books, all illustrated by Vladimirsky. After Volkov's death, Vladimirsky illustrated two more Magic Land books. His own work, the crossover Buratino in the Emerald City and Sergei Sukhinov's prequel Goodwin the Great and Terrible. He was also the head of the Magic Land club Friends of the Emerald City for many years.

(Information courtesy Marc Berezin. Image courtesy The Wonderful Wiki of Oz.)


February 28, 2015: The Baum Bugle, Winter 2014


The latest issue of the journal of the International Wizard of Oz Club, The Baum Bugle, has now been printed and is being sent out to members. This concludes the run of 2014 issues, so members will need to renew their memberships to keep getting the Bugle (and all the other benefits of being a member) in 2015.

Included in this issue, which celebrates the diamond anniversary of the famous MGM movie version of The Wizard of Oz:

  • A gorgeous wraparound cover of Billie Burke in her Glinda costume, taken by famed MGM photographer Clarence Sinclair Bull.
  • In his "Letter from the Editor", Craig Noble looks at what it took to put this issue together.
  • Club President Carrie L. Hedges introduces the Club to its new Membership Secretary, Joe Bongiorno, in "OZervations".
  • Highlighted by editor Jared Davis in "Oz and Ends":
    • A Wizard of Oz-themed corn maze in Meridian, Idaho.
    • A movie of L. Frank Baum's life and a Broadway musical about Judy Garland both being developed, both using the title The Road to Oz (although the musical's full title is Chasing Rainbows: The Road to Oz).
    • The latest items from the MGM movie to go up for auction, including a test dress for Judy Garland that wasn't actually used in the final film, Bert Lahr's script, two Munchkin costumes, a Winkie spearhead, and one of Lahr's Cowardly Lion costumes, which fetched over three million dollars.
    • A new version of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, illustrated by Evan Dahm, which was financed by a Kickstarter campaign.
    • A phone app, being developed by iStrategy Labs, called Dorothy that lets you send yourself an "urgent" call to get out of a situation. The call is triggered by tapping your shoes together three times.
    • An Oz fan who requested that "Ding, Dong, the Witch Is Dead" be quoted in her obituary as she was buried in a black dress, striped stockings, and ruby slippers.
    • Recent Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai recalling how a copy of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, given to her by British Prime Minister Gordon Brown, helped her overcome her attack by the Taliban,
    • Gwen Stefani's Oz-themed music video for "Baby Don't Lie".
    • Laying the rest the rumor that L. Frank Baum once lived in Bradford, Pennsylvania, and founded the town's newspaper, The Bradford Era. (He did neither.) An article about Baum in the area was published in the Summer 2014 issue of Western Pennsylvania History.
  • Anthony Tringali tracks down the handful of people who are still alive and contributed to the making of the famous movie version of The Wizard of Oz in "Remembering the Yellow Brick Road: Oz's Surviving Alumni Reflect on the Classic as It Reaches a Milestone".
  • Jared Davis compares the original book and its most famous movie treatment in "A Take of Two Wizards: The Classic Story as Told by L. Frank Baum and MGM".
  • Linda Thurston, yearbook advisor at San Leandro High School in California, delves into the 2014 edition in "Making the Wizard of Oz Theme Yearbook: A perfect theme for young people coming of age and seeking to make their dreams come true".
  • Zachary Turpin comments on a recently discovered piece of Baumiana in "'Der Hyphen': A Newly Discovered Poem by L. Frank Baum" (and yes, the poem itself is reprinted as well).
  • Scott Cummings' examination of the last Oz musical Baum worked on continues in "The Tik-Tok Man of Oz: The Fairyland Extravaganza of 1913-14: Part Two".
  • "Oz Under Scrutiny" looks at contemporary reviews of The Tik-Tok Man of Oz as it toured the United States and Canada.
  • Marcus Mébès profiles artist Luciano Vecchio in the latest installment of "The Oz Illustrator".
  • Michael O. Riley provides a listing of his hand-made Oz (and other) books in "The Story of the Pamami Press, Part Three: A Bibliography of Limited Editions, 1978-2013".
  • Reviewed in "The Oz Bookshelf":
  • Geoffrey Holder, director and costume designer for the original Broadway run of The Wiz (among other things he did in his long and rich life) is remembered by Jared Davis in "In Memoriam".
  • And finally, in Ozmusements, Susan Hall presents an Oz quiz with a twist.

December 12, 2014: Oziana 2014

Oziana 2014.jpeg
The newest issue of Oziana, the annual fiction anthology of the International Wizard of Oz Club, is now available and ready to order from Lulu.com. Editor Marcus Mébès has assembled six contributions for this issue:
  • "Lost and Never Found" by David Tai and Jared Davis, illustrated by Dennis Anfuso, finds Betsy and Trot in the Valley of Lost Things in Merryland, wondering who or what was lost.
  • "Labor of Love", written and illustrated by Kim McFarland, sees the Scarecrow and Patchwork Girl pondering if it is possible for them to become parents.
  • "Theresa's Pink Road" by Theresa McMillan is a poem describing a journey of personal growth and discovery.
  • "The New Fellow" by J. L. Bell, illustrated by David Bishop, sees the residents of the Royal Stables greeting a new visitor, and deciding whether or not he can fit in.
  • "Rob Zombie in Oz" by Aaron Solomon Adelman, illustrated by John Troutman, takes a look at an alternate version of Oz with many elements of the Oz Film Manufacturing Company movies and Magic Land. It seems Dr. Pipt's daughter, Jesseva, is a Yookoohoo, and she takes on Jinjur as a student. But part of Jinjur's training takes her to the Emerald City graveyard, where not all of the pre-enchantment Ozites buried there are as dead as everyone supposed.
  • "Roselawn" by Jared Davis, illustrated by David Baker, sees Evangeline and Matthew return to Roselawn, where they played as children nicknamed Dot and Tot. There, Evangeline hopes to help Matthew overcome what happened to him in Europe during the Great War.

Wrapping around this issue are front and back covers by David Bishop.

September 6, 2014: The Baum Bugle, Autumn 2014

The latest issue of The Baum Bugle, the thrice annual journal of the International Wizard of Oz Club, is now finding its way into members' mailboxes. To commemorate the centennial of the publication of Tik-Tok of Oz, the Oz book of 1914, this issue celebrates the life and times of Tik-Tok, the clockwork man.

In this issue:

  • The front cover reproduces an original Dick Martin illustration, intended as a dust jacket for a 1960 reprint of Tik-Tok of Oz.
  • Craig Noble reflects on Tik-Tok in "Letter from the Editor".
  • "Corrections" fixesand adds information to two previous issues.
  • Oz Club President Carrie Hedges looks at how the Club is handling memberships, and its most recent Board of Directors meeting in "OZervations".
  • Featured in "Oz and Ends":
    • The latest online Oz comic, The Black Brick Road of Oz.
    • Two forthcoming Russian movies based on the Magic Land series, the live action Return to the Emerald City coming next year, and a computer animated version of Urfin Jus and His Wooden Soldiers in 2016.
    • The cancellation of the Emerald City miniseries at NBC.
    • A new musical, Emerald City, performed during the Toronto Fringe Festival this past July.
    • The disappointing box office of The Legends of Oz: Dorothy Returns.
    • A new world record (1,150) for most people dressed as characters from The Wizard of Oz, set at the Judy Garland Museum on June 13, 2014.
    • A ruby slipper sculpture of jelly beans in Los Angeles that set a new world record for largest candy sculpture.
    • The induction of "Over the Rainbow" into the Songwriters Hall of Fame.
    • An Oz-themed issue of the journal Fairy Tale Review.
    • Celebrations of the seventy-fifth anniversary of the famous film version of The Wizard of Oz in Virginia and Yorkshire, England.
    • The arrest of three people by the FBI in conjunction with the fraudulent practices of Gigapix Studios and their planned 3-D CGI adaptation of The Wizard of Oz.
    • An orchestral concert rendition of L. Frank Baum's story "The Queen of Quok" at the University of California-Riverside.
    • The Oz art of a young Janis Joplin.
  • Scott Cummings looks at the history and development of Baum's third Oz play in part one of "The Tik-Tok Man of Oz: The Fairyland Extravaganza of 1913-14".
  • "Oz Under Scrutiny" reprints several contemporary reviews of Tik-Tok of Oz.
  • Peter Hanff uncovers John R. Neill's model for Betsy Bobbin on the original cover of Tik-Tok of Oz in "Eleanor Boardman and the Marvelous Land of Oz, or, Oz is Where You Find It".
  • Michael O. Riley concludes his look back at how he combined his love of Oz and small press printing in "The Story of the Pamami Press, Part Two".
  • Dewey Davis-Thompson visits the workshop that created one of the current touring museum exhibits of The Wizard of Oz in "The Wizard of Wacky World: Behind the Scenes in Bruce Barry's Florida Workshop".
  • Dennis Anfuso becomes the latest artist to be profiled in "The Oz Illustrator".
  • Recent events written up in "The Magic Picture":
    • Oz-Stravaganza! 2013 in L. Frank Baum's home town of Chittenango, New York, written by David Moyer.
    • The 2013 Winkie Convention in Pacific Grove, California, by Linda TerBurgh.
    • The International Wizard of Oz Club's 2014 annual convention, held concurrently with Oz-Stravaganza! written by Angelica Carpenter and Blair Frödelius.
    • Oz-Stravaganza! 2014, written by Moyer.
    • The 2014 Winkie Convention, held in San Diego and written by Atticus Gannaway.
  • Productions reviewed in "Oz in the Spotlight":
    • The first full production of The Tik-Tok Man of Oz in one hundred years, at the 2014 Winkie Convention, reviewed by Marcy Gessel and Michael Gessel.
    • The animated movie Legends of Oz: Dorothy's Return, reviewed by Ryan Jay.
    • A new Australian production, The Word of the Wiz, reviewed by Sam Milazzo.
    • A new Off-Broadway show, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz: Re-Imagined, reviewed by David Moyer.
  • Freddy Fogarty looks back at his admiration of his favorite Oz character in "Tik-Tok-Tastic! or, How I Fell in Love with a Mechanical Man".
  • Reviewed in "The Oz Bookshelf":
  • Dana Richards adds to and clarifies an earlier issue's checklist of Martin Gardner's Oz writings in "Martin Gardner: Further Explorations of Oz".
  • Peter E. Hanff looks back at the lives and Ozzy contributions of Jerry V. Tobias and John C. Ebinger in "In Memoriam".
  • Susan Hall presents a quiz on Tik-Tok of Oz in "Ozmusements".
  • And Dennis Anfuso contributes an original illustration of Tik-Tok for the back cover.

September 5, 2014: Geoffrey Holder, 1930-2014

Geoffrey Holder.jpg
Geoffrey Holder, the acclaimed actor, dancer, choreographer, and painter died today, at the age of 84. Born in Port of Spain, Trinidad, in 1930, he emigrated with his family to the United States as a boy, but he never lost his distinctive accent. As a movie actor, his roles included Willy Shakespeare in Doctor Doolittle (1967), the Sorcerer in Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Sex (But Were Afraid to Ask), Baron Samedi in the James Bond film Live and Let Die, Punjab in Annie, and the narrator in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. He was also known for a series of ads for 7-Up, touting it as "The Un-Cola". In 1974 Holder was contracted to design costumes for an African-American musical stage version of The Wizard of Oz, and then stepped in to direct when the original director bowed out. After it hit Broadway in 1975, The Wiz would win seven Tony Awards, including two for Holder for Best Costume Design and Best Direction of a Musical. He also won the Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Costume Design.

(Information courtesy The New York Times. Image courtesy People.com.)

August 9, 2014: The 2014 Winkie Award

Tonight, during its grand awards banquet, the Winkie Convention (for Oz fans on the west coast) presented its highest honor, the Winkie Award, to Susan Johnson. Johnson was honored by her fellow Winkies for all of her behind-the-scenes work at the conventions for many years, notably assisting during the auction.

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.)

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:

  • 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.
  • Yes, it looks like a film version of Wicked is currently in pre-planning at Universal. But this is a long way off, and a lot can happen. However, the success of the play most likely means that there will be a film version some day. Winnie Holzman, who wrote the book for the play, has already been tapped to write the script.
  • 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.
  • OzLand, with the protagonists wandering post-apocalyptic America and finding a copy of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz.
  • Save Oz, an animated movie from Mexico about a winged monkey who decides to defeat the Wicked Witch on his own terms, with a little help from some of Oz's greatest heroes.
  • Young Santa., based on L. Frank Baum's book The Life and Adventures of Santa Claus and directed by Sean McNamara.
  • 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
  • Emerald City, a "modern" Oz series in development at NBC, which was originally picked up for the 2014-15 season. The order was later cancelled, however.
  • Dorothy Must Die, in which Dorothy has returned to Oz and become a dictator, in development at the CW.
  • 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.
  • NBC may have bought the rights to The Wiz to produce as one of its holiday season live musicals.

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...

It seems the Hash, Inc., animated production of The Tin Woodman of Oz was successful enough that they're going ahead with their next production, The Scarecrow of Oz. This one even has test footage on YouTube, which looks something like this:

A computer animated production of Baum's 1902 book The Life and Adventures of Santa Claus is currently in the works. The producers are Hyde Park Entertainment, Toonz Entertainment, and Gang of 7 Animation. As with all movie projects, a lot can happen before release, which could cause them be delayed, or not to appear at all. Keep an eye on this website's news and events pages for details if they get closer to actually coming out.

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.
  • 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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