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.)


December 28, 2016: Carrie Fisher and Debbie Reynolds, RIP

Under the rainbow movie 1981 carrie fisher 1.jpg
Carrie Fisher, the actress and author best known for her iconic role of Leia Organa in the Star Wars movies, passed away yesterday. Fisher was sixty years old. She had been rushed to a hospital in Los Angeles four days after suffering a medical emergency on a flight from London. Among her other roles was Annie Clark in Under the Rainbow. Her character worked at MGM in 1938 and was responsible for chaperoning several dozen little people who were staying at a hotel in Culver City during production of a new musical movie, The Wizard of Oz.

Per Fisher's wishes, as she wrote in her memoir Wishful Drinking, we are printing a line that she wanted in her obituary, referring to Leia's lack of undergarments in the original Star Wars movie:

"I want it reported that I drowned in moonlight, strangled by my own bra."

In a cruel twist of fate, Fisher's mother, iconic actress and singer Debbie Reynolds, died today, only one day after her daughter. She was rushed to the hospital after suffering a massive stroke while planning Carrie's funeral with her son. Reynolds was 84. Best known for playing Kathy Selden in MGM's other biggest musical ever, Singin' in the Rain, Reynolds was also an avid collector of Hollywood costumes and other memorabilia, in the hopes of eventually opening a museum. She started her collecting at the famous 1970 MGM auction where she never even got the chance to bid on the Ruby Slippers there. She did, however, eventually procure a test pair of Ruby Slippers, not actually used in the film, with toes curled up at the front like the silver shoes in W. W. Denslaw's original illustrations from The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. Reynolds also acquired a dress, worn by Garland, that was also tested but not used in The Movie. The museum never materialized, and Reynolds sold off most of her collection, including the "Arabian Slippers" in 2011.


November 30, 2016: Oziana 2016

The latest issue of the International Wizard of Oz Club's annual fiction anthology, Oziana, has now been published and is available for sale at lulu.com. This is the biggest issue of Oziana ever, and the entire contents are devoted to celebrating the centennial of Rinkitink in Oz, published in 1916. The book, however, was originally written around 1905 as a non-Oz adventure, King Rinkitink. Baum dusted off the story, added Oz characters in the last few chapters, and turned it into his annual Oz book. The original manuscript has been lost, so the International Wizard of Oz Club sponsored a contest to provide a new ending for King Rinkitink, starting with a new chapter 20. This edition of Oziana publishes all of the entries in the contest.

The entries are:

  • "Suggested Ending to Rinkitink in Oz" by Susan Johnson
  • "An Epilogue to Rinkitink in Oz" by Aaron Solomon Adelman
  • "A New Ending for Rinkitink in Oz" by Dennis Anfuso
  • "A New Ending for Rinkitink in Oz" by Jared Davis
  • "The Rinkitink Conspiracy in Oz" by Baruch Adelman
  • "The Adventures of King Rinkitink" by Andrew Heller (the grand prize winner!)
  • "King Rinkitink in Oz, An Ending and a Beginning" by George Van Buren
  • "A New Ending for King Rinkitink" by Nicholas M. Campbell
  • "Wrapping Up Rinkitink" by Christopher M. Diket
  • "The Adventures of King Rinkitink" by Robin Hess
  • "Rinkitink" by Karen Diket
  • "King Rinkitink Restor'd" by John W. Kennedy and Eleanor M. Kennedy
  • "King Rinkitink Conclusion" by Sarah Hadley
  • "Ending Chapters of King Rinkitink" by Mariah B'Forre
  • "Concluding King Rinkitink" by Maggie Lockett

And the winning entry will soon be published, edited into the original text, as King Rinkitink by L. Frank Baum and Andrew Heller. Watch for that coming to a website near you!


November 25, 2016: The Baum Bugle, Autumn 2016

The latest issue of The Baum Bugle, the journal of the International Wizard of Oz Club, is now in the mail and making its way to members.

In this issue:


August 8, 2016: The Baum Bugle, Spring 2016

The latest issue of The Baum Bugle, the journal of the International Wizard of Oz Club, is now making its way to the Club's members. It's a little later than the recent schedule, but considering the delivery history of the Bugle, this is still not at all bad. The front cover features a montage, created by Marcus Mébès, of the boys from Philadelphia, namely Button-Bright, Bob Up (the former Bobby Downs), and Peter Brown, all as illustrated by John R. Neill (another Philadelphian,as was Ruth Plumly Thompson).

In this issue:


August 6, 2016: The 2016 L. Frank Baum Memorial Award

The International Wizard of Oz Club tonight presented its highest award, the L. Frank Baum Memorial Award, to Jay Scarfone and William Stillman. Together, they have written many books, including The Wizard of Oz: The Official 50th Anniversary Pictorial History (with John Fricke), The Wizard of Oz Collector’s Treasury, The Wizardry of Oz: The Artistry and Magic of the 1939 MGM Classic, and The Wizard of Oz: The Official 75th Anniversary Companion. They have also written many articles and curated museum exhibits about The Movie. Stillman was also the editor-in-chief of The Baum Bugle from 1996 to 2000, while Scarfone has served on the Club's board of directors. Both were also active in the Munchkin Convention, chairing it for several years.


July 16, 2016: The 2016 Winkie Award

Tonight, OzCon International presented its annual Winkie Award, for cotributions to the convention and Oz in general, to Virginia "Gina" Wickwar. She is the author of The Hidden Prince of Oz and Toto of Oz, as well as many contributions to OzCon International.


February 4, 2016: The Baum Bugle, Winter 2015


A few weeks late, but nothing too serious, the Winter 2015 edition of The Baum Bugle has been sent out to members and should arrive soon. This marks the end of the 2015 membership year, and so members are urged to renew for 2016 as soon as possible with the enclosed form.

In this issue:

  • The front cover features Elijah Kelley as the Scarecrow from December's broadcast of The Wiz Live!
  • Craig Noble's "Letter from the Editor" talks about the issue's dual celebrants, The Scarecrow of Oz, which turned one hundred in 2015, and The Wiz Live!
  • The Oz Club's president, Carrie Hedges, urges all members to renew and attend one of this summer's Oz conventions (in either Portland or Philadelphia in her "OZervations" column.
  • Featured in "Oz and Ends":
  • Eric Shanower examines and tries to reconcile "The Five Origins of the Scarecrow".
  • Alyse Rall Benjamin takes a journey back in time "Rereading The Scarecrow of Oz".
  • "Oz Under Scrutiny" looks at contemporary reviews of The Scarecrow of Oz, culled from L. Frank Baum's own scrapbooks.
  • Paul R. Bienvenue and Robert E. Schmidt look at the editions of Oz and Baum books specially bound for use in libraries in "The Library Bindings of Oz".
  • "The Magic Picture" carries a number of reports from OzCon International this past summer in San Diego:
    • "What's in a Name?" by David Maxine examines the reasons behind rebranding the convention from its old name, the Winkie Convention.
    • Peter E. Hanff reviews the book, Fifty Years of the Winkie Convention, and also looks at the panel on "Collecting Original Oz Art".
    • Robert Baum writes a profile on this year's winner of the L. Frank Baum Memorial Award, Paul R. Bienvenue.
    • Paul Dana recaps three panels: "The Soul of The Wiz", "The Novelizations of Oz", and "What Can We Make of Neill's Oz Books?".
  • Michael O. Riley thoroughly examines the differences between the first two printings of the first Oz book in "Bibliographia Oziana: More on the Hill Edition of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz: How to Distinguish Between the First and Second States of the Text" (whew!).
  • In "The Oz Illustrator", Bill Campbell writes of how he and his partner reinterpret Oz illustrations in a new medium in "Ozzy Inspirations: The Stained Glass of Century Studio".
  • "Oz in the Spotlight" presents two reviews of The Wiz Live!, by Ryan Jay and Garrett Kilgore.
  • In "Adventures in Oz", Eric Sangwine remembers how his mother's prized copy of The Wizard of Oz led to his career as a librarian in Ontario.
  • "Oz Ink" presents Samantha Beeler, her Oz tattoos, and how they came to be.
  • The rules for a contest to complete Baum's original non-Oz story, King Rinkitink, which was later rewritten and published as Rinkitink in Oz, appear.
  • In The Oz Bookshelf, Marc Berezin reviews A Brief Guide to Oz by Paul Simpson.
  • "In Memoriam" marks the passing of Holly Dennis-Lucas, who ran the Wannabe Wonderlands blog.
  • "Ozmusements" presents a quiz over The Scarecrow of Oz by Eric Gjovaag.
  • And the back cover reproduces The Whirlpool, a stained glass window based on an illustration by John R. Neill and created by Bill Campbell and Irwin Terry.


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.)

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.)

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