(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.)
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":
- NBC picks up Emerald City for a series, now starting in the fall; while Amazon's pilot for Lost in Oz was so successful that it has also been picked up for a full series run.
- Not only is Andrew Lloyd Webber's The Wizard of Oz back for a second North American tour, it was also featured in a November episode of [http://www.broadwaybalancesamerica.com/index.php/show?show=152110 Broadway Balances America reports on Lifetime.
- A long list of award nominations for The Wiz Live!.
- Thirty-eight years after recording the album, Diana Ross Sings Songs From The Wiz comes out at last.
- At a Bonham's auction in November, one of Judy Garland's dresses from The Wizard of Oz sells for $1.56 million.
- 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.
October 6, 2015: The Baum Bugle, Autumn 2015
The Autumn 2015 issue of The Baum Bugle, the journal of the International Wizard of Oz Club, is now being sent out to Club members. This issue celebrates thirty years of Return to Oz, the 1985 Disney movie that didn't burn up the box office, but has since gained a cult following.
In this issue:
- The front cover is a frame from an early version of the Return to Oz finale in the throne room, with Ozma wearing a gold dress, before it was changed to a white and green dress in the final film.
- In his "Letter from the Editor", Craig Noble asks for people to step up and become Assistant Editors to make his job easier and keep the Bugle going for many more years.
- President Carrie Hedges discusses the closure of the Club's online store and next year's conventions in her "OZervations" column.
- In "Oz in the News":
- The Wiz celebrates its fortieth year with the announcement of The Wiz Live! in December on NBC, and a concert of songs and dances from the show at New York City's SummerStage festival this past summer that reunited original cast members Dee Dee Bridgewater (Glinda), André De Shields (The Wiz), and Phylicia Rashad (a Munchkin).
- Yet another report on vandalism at the now-closed Land of Oz theme park in North Carolina.
- A reward of one million dollars being offered for the Ruby Slippers stolen in Minnesota back in 2005.
- Two new games, the Wizard of Oz Fun Pack for LEGO Dimensions (which lets you play minifig versionso of Oz characters in the game), and Munchkin Oz, the latest version of the dungeon-crawling card game.
- A limited edition Classic Oz collector's coin.
- The Big Finish audio production of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, available on CD or as a digital download.
- "Baum's Spectrum of Pearls" by Ruth Berman looks at how Baum used and described the gems in his writing, how accurate he was, and speculates on the source of some of his information.
- "Practically an Impossibility" by Scott Cummings takes another look at Baum's recently rediscovered poem "Der Hyphen" (discussed in the Winter 2014 Bugle) and how Baum felt about the events leading up to America's involvement in The Great War.
- "Did Dorothy Return to Oz?" by David and Karen Diket takes a closer look at just what kind of movie Return to Oz is (Hint: Maybe it's not a children's movie after all) and the films and filmmakers who may have influenced director Walter Murch.
- "The Baum Legacy: Dorothy's Journey As a Metaphor for Spiritual Awakening" by Dr. Dorothy Gita Morena talks about her great-grandfather, L. Frank Baum, and how his work has infused her own work as a transpersonal physiotherapist and seminar leader.
- Freddy Fogarty attends two recent revival screenings of the movie and meets some of the people who helped make it in "Return to Return to Oz".
- Nate Barlow interviews the actress who played Ozma in Return to Oz in "Emma Ridley Returns to Oz",
- Freddy Fogarty looks at recent discoveries and items in "Return to Oz Character Merchandise Checklist: Addendum 2".
- David Moyer review's this year's big Oz event in upstate New York in "Oz-Stravaganza! 2015".
- "Tee Oz Illustrator" presents Sam Milazzo's thoughts on how to depict Dorothy's first friend in Oz with "Drawing the Scarecrow to Life".
- "Oz Under Scrutiny" presents many contemporary reviews of Return to Oz.
- In "The Oz Bookshelf":
- "MultiMediOz" presents Ryan Jay's review of the 30th anniversary Blu-Ray edition of Return to Oz.
- "Ozmusements" this time around is a crossword puzzle based on this issue
- And the back cover is an original drawing of Ozma by Margaret Spencer.
August 1, 2015: Oz Club Awards
Tonight, the International Wizard of Oz Club gave out two of its biggest awards during the annual Winkie Convention in San Diego, California. The Club's highest honor, the L. Frank Baum Memorial Award, was presented to Paul R. Bienvenue, primarily for his contributions to collecting the works of L. Frank Baum and their publications. The Winkie Award, for contributions to the convention, went to Ryan Bunch in recognition of his many contributions, notably from a piano keyboard.
(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.)
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.
- 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, but then announced as back in production as a mid-season limited series.
- 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.
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.)