(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.)
(For more Oz news, check out The Daily Ozmopolitan. For the latest Oz not-quite-news, see the Rumor Control section of this page.)
June 1, 2023: Accused Ruby Slipper Thief Enters Plea
Terry Jon Martin, the man accused of stealing the Ruby Slippers from the Judy Garland Museum in 2005, entered his plea today. He has pled not guilty to one count of Theft of a Major Art Work.
(Information courtesy of [https://kstp.com/kstp-news/local-news/man-who-allegedly-stole-judy-garlands-ruby-slippers-enters-not-guilty-plea/ KSTP Minneapolis/St. Paul.)
May 17, 2023: An Arrest in the Ruby Slipper Theft
Terry Martin, 76, has been indicted in the 2005 theft of a pair of Ruby Slippers, originally worn by Judy Garland in the famous 1939 film adaptation of The Wizard of Oz. The Slippers were recovered in 2018. The investigation has been ongoing, and Martin has been charged with one count of theft of a major artwork. The charge was filed by federal prosecutors in North Dakota. The Ruby Slippers at the time belonged to collector Michael Shaw, who had loaned them to the Judy Garland Museum in Grand Rapids, Minnesota. They were stolen in 2005, and Shaw eventually received a settlement from his insurers. A man contacted the insurers about the Slippers in 2017, setting off an investigation and eventual FBI sting operation. Nobody was charged at the time of the Slippers' recovery. Martin lives just south of Grand Rapids, but otherwise does not appear to have any connection to the museum or Garland. This is still an ongoing investigation, and it's possible other indictments may come later.
(Information courtesy of The Associated Press. Video courtesy of WCCO CBS News Minnesota.)
March 14, 2023: Wicked Part 1 Movie Release Date Changed
Universal has moved up the release date of the first half of the movie adaptation of Wicked, the long-running Broadway and West End musical. Originally announced for Christmas 2024, they moved the date up to November 27, 2024, to coincide with the Thanksgiving holiday season it the United States. Since Avatar 3 and Sonic the Hedgehog 3 are also coming out on Christmas, changing Wicked to the earlier holiday weekend is probably a wise move.
(Information courtesy Variety.)
February 25, 2023: The Baum Bugle, Winter 2022 Issue
The latest issue of The Baum Bugle, the journal of the International Wizard of Oz Club, is now making its appearance in members' mailboxes. (Yes, technically it's now 2023, but it's still the same winter season, which historically is still very good for the Bugle.) This issue celebrates the centennial of Kabumpo in Oz, the first Oz book to go out exclusively and definitively under the authorship of Ruth Plumly Thompson.
In this issue:
- All of the covers have to do with Dick Martin's 1961 cover design for the new Kabumpo in Oz dust jacket. The front cover is the finished product, the inside front cover shows the color separations, the inside back cover is a different color sketch, and the back cover is the original art.
- In "Letters", Oz Club President gives her impressions of the twice-postponed 2022 National Oz Convention, while Bugle editor-in-chief Sarah K. Crotzer remembers her encounters with Kabumpo as she discusses the creation of this issue.
- News items discussed in "The Bugle Bulletin":
- The discovery and auction of the original art by W. W. Denslow for two of the color plates from The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, both selling for over $100,000.
- The 2022 TDF/Irene Sharaff Memorial Tribute honored Caroline F. Siedle, the costume designer for the 1903 stage extravaganza version of The Wizard of Oz. (Also honored, but not mentioned in the Bugle, was Eugene Lee, designer for Wicked, among other shows.)
- The 2022 winner of the L. Frank Baum Memorial Award, the highest honor bestowed by the International Wizard of Oz Club, is Sean P. Duffley.
- Jeff Goldblum is cast as the Wizard in the Wicked movie adaptations.
- "Beyond the Shifting Sands" remembers two Oz luminaries who recently passed away: Jules Bass, one half of the famed Rankin/Bass animation studio whose works included Tales of the Wizard of Oz, the 1961 TV special Return to Oz, and the 1985 holiday program The Life and Adventures of Santa Claus; and Angela Lansbury, whose long and storied Hollywood career includes presenting and narrating the 1990 documentary The Wonderful Wizard of Oz: The Making of a Movie Classic.
- In "Kerumberty Bumpus! The Joy of Oz as Series Fiction", Sarah K. Crotzer and Nick Campbell look at the proper introduction of Ruth Plumly Thompson as a Royal Historian of Oz and how her work was presented and received over the years as a part of the greater Oz series.
- In "Oz Under Scrutiny", Scott Cummings presents contemporary review of Kabumpo in Oz.
- Garrett Kilgore comes to the defense of one of his favorite characters in "J'Accuse Kabumpo: Justice for the Curious Cottabus".
- Scott Cummings discovers a previously unknown dramatic adaptation of Kabumpo in Oz from Pittsburgh in 1943 in "Unearthing the Gnome King".
- "Coming and Going: Kabumpo in Oz" sees Nick Campbell and Sarah K. Crotzer give brief summaries of some ideas about aspects of the book, including how it serves as a template for other Thompson Oz books, how it may have been influenced by Lewis Carroll and Alice in Wonderland, and how Kabumpo may have, in turn, influenced Norton Juster and his classic story The Phantom Tollbooth.
- Ryan Bunch presents the sheet music for "The Tin Woodman's Song" from Ruth Plumly Thompson's playlet A Day in Oz.
- J. L. Bell reports on the first two big post-pandemic gatherings of Oz fans, OzCon International 2022 and Oz: The National Convention
- Michael Patrick Hearn introduces a Christmas play from the December 1917 issue of St. Nicholas Magazine, "The Man Who Didn't Believe in Christmas" by Mary Austin, which includes the Wizard of Oz as a character.
- "Oz in the Arts" reviews And Toto, Too (FRIGID New York Fringe Festival, February 18-26, 2022, reviewed by Atticus Gannaway), The Lost Princess of Oz (Axelrod Contemporary Ballet Theater, August 19-28, 2022, reviewed by Robert Lamont), and American Classics Presents Journey to Oz (November 18 and 20, 2022, reviewed by J. L. Bell).
- Books and games examined in "The Bugle Review":
- The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum, illustrated by MinaLima (reviewed by Peter E. Hanff).
- The Boy Baronet in Oz by Phyllis Ann Karr.
- Can You Survive The Wonderful Wizard of Oz? A Choose Your Path Book by Ryan Jacobson.
- Dunkiton Press #30: Yuletide #2, compiled by Ruth Berman.
- Friends of Dorothy: A Tale of Homophobic Buffoonery by Kieran Teare-Thomas.
- The Love Magnet of Oz by Alan Lisdsay.
- Oz: A Fantasy Role-Playing Setting by Andrew Kolb.
- Oz and the Musical: Performing the American Fairy Tale by Ryan Bunch.
- Pastoria's Daughter by Karen Deal Robinson.
- Shadows Over Oz by David M. Keyes.
- Sherlock Holmes in Oz by Gary Lovisi.
- The Wizard's Illusion: A Conversation from Oz with Sallie McFugue and Others by Katherine Abetz.
- The Adventures in Oz and The Wonderful Wizard of Oz playing card decks, reviewed by Sarah K. Crotzer.
Other inserts that come with this issue of The Baum Bugle:
- An ad for the 2022 edition of Oziana, the annual literary journal of the International Wizard of Oz Club.
- A registration form for the 2023 edition of OzCon International, July 28-30 in Pomona, California.
- The craft project for this issue is a color, cut, and assemble Emerald City Palace. Perhaps you can perch it jauntily on your head as you cosplay Ruggedo from Kabumpo in Oz.
- The "Oz Live 2022" insert reported on Oz events around the country, including Oz on the Bayou (Gray, Louisiana, March 4-5), QuadCon (April 29-30, Tulsa, Oklahoma), Wizard of Oz Days (May 14-15, Chesterton, Indiana, and a second edition in Hannibal, Missouri, October 22), OzStravaganza! (Chittenango, New York, June), Judy Garland's 100th Birthday Celebration (Grand Rapids, Minnesota, June 9-12), the Michigan Wizard of Oz Festival (Ionia, Michigan, September 30-October 1), Autumn in Oz (Banner Elk, North Carolina, September weekends), The Ohio Wizard of Oz Expo (Aurora, Ohio, October 15-16), The Illinois Oz Festival (Mapleton, Illinois, August 13), and Oztoberfest (Wamego, Kansas, October 1).
- And in The Oz Gazette, the newsletter for younger Oz fans (no matter what their actual age is):
- Kabumpo celebrates his one hundredth birthday.
- "A Letter form the Editor" sees the Scarecrow expounding on the issue and encouraging its readers to contribute.
- "The Emerald City Book Report" gives facts and information on Kabumpo in Oz.
- "Meet an Oz Club Youth Member" interviews its youngest subject yet, five-year-old Julian from Florida.
- Glinda flips the pages of the Great Book of Records back one hundred ears to see what else happened in 1922.
- The latest actions of the enigmatic temporary new ruler of Oz, Princess Toodee, are recorded.
- "The Woggle-Bug's Contest" presents another puzzler for readers to unravel.
- American correspondent-at-large Katie Jones' "The Ozzity Report" continues her search for Ozma in all parts of our world where Oz creatures are sighted.
- And Billina the yellow hen has mysteriously been transformed into a penguin!
February 8, 2023: Eugene Lee, 1939-2023
Television and Broadway set designer Eugene Lee passed away today in his home in Providence, Rhode Island, at the age of 83. He was the set designer for Saturday Night Live from its 1975 premiere until the present day except for a handful of seasons in the 1980s, and also for The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon and Late Night with Seth Meyers. On Broadway, he designed many shows, and won Tony Awards for his work on Candide, Sweeney Todd, and Wicked. He is survived by his wife, Brooke, and two children.
(Information courtesy Broadway World and Wikipedia. Photograph courtesy of Yahoo!)
December 9, 2022: More Wicked Movie Cast Members Announced
John M. Chu is rounding out and finalizing his cast for the Wicked movies. Announced today:
- Marissa Bode as Nessarose.
- Bowen Yang and Bronwyn James as Pfannee and ShenShen, two of Galinda and Elphaba's classmates at Shiz.
- Keala Settle as Miss Coddle.
- Aaron Teoh as Avaric.
- Colin Michael Carmichael as Professor Nikidik.
- And, after several weeks of negotiations, Jeff Goldblum as the Wizard.
(Information courtesy of Variety.)
December 8, 2022: Michelle Yeoh Cast as Madame Morrible in the Wicked Movies
Michelle Yeoh, a Golden Globe nominee for Everything Everywhere All At Once, will play Madame Morrible in the forthcoming two-part film adaptation of the Wicked musical. This will be a reunion with John M. Chu, who also directed her in Crazy Rich Asians. Yeoh has also appeared in Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon and Star Trek: Discovery, among many other roles in her career.
(Information courtesy of Variety.)
December 7, 2022: Ethan Slater Cast as Boq in the Wicked Movies
Ethan Slater, a Tony Award nominee for his role as the title character in SpongeBob SquarePants: The Musical, will play Boq in the forthcoming two-part film adaptation of the Wicked musical.
(Information courtesy of Variety.)
September 21, 2022: Jonathan Bailey Cast as Fiyero in the Wicked Movies
Jonathan Bailey, the British actor best known for playing Viscount Anthony Bridgerton in the Bridgerton television series on Netflix, has been cast as Fiyero in the Wicked movies. Director Jon M. Chu tweeted today, "He’s perfect, they’re perfect. They’d be perfect together. Born to be forever… I am too excited to pretend this hasn’t been happening. We have a Fiyero!!!!" alongside a picture of Bailey. He joins Cynthia Erivo as Elphaba and Ariana Grande as Galinda. in the two-part movie adaptation of the hit musical. Part 1 will be released for the 2024 holiday season, and part 2 comes out in 2025.
(Information courtesy of Variety.)
September 19, 2022: The Baum Bugle, Autumn 2022 Issue
The latest issue of The Baum Bugle, the journal of the International Wizard of Oz Club, has made its way to members' mailboxes. This issue features a grab bag of all kinds of different articles, with something to please the tastes of any Oz fan.
In this issue:
- The front and back covers feature portraits of Jack Pumpkinhead and the Sawhorse, and Ozma, by Janet K. Lee.
- The inside covers feature "mood boards" for various characters in the Dobama Theatre's production of The Land of Oz.
- President Jane Albright discusses the Club, and editor Sarah K. Crotzer previews this edition of the Bugle, in "Letters".
- In an extra-length edition of "The Bugle Bulletin":
- The announcement that the Wicked movie will be in two parts.
- Margaret Hamilton's 1976 appearance on Sesame Street, long suppressed and unavailable for general viewing, is now out there for anyone to see.
- A Dorothy dress from The Movie, discovered last year at Catholic University, won't be up for auction soon after all until the dress's provenance and ownership can be determined.
- The Smithsonian's pair of Ruby Slippers are moving to https://americanhistory.si.edu/exhibitions/entertainment-nation "Entertainment Nation"], a new exhibit area of the National Museum of American History.
- The ballet Dorothy and the Prince of Oz returns to BalletMet in Columbus, Ohio, for a run in February 2023.
- New York City's The Kitchen featured a multimedia exhibit devoted to the song "Home" from The Wiz in the spring of 2022.
- A Stradivarius violin, crafted in 1714, sold at auction for over $15 million. This particular instrument previously belonged to Toscha Sidel, who played it on several classic motion picture soundtracks—including The Wizard of Oz.
- The Wilshire Ebell Theatre in Los Angeles hosted an exhibit of Judy Garland memorabilia that opened on June 10, 2022—Garland's one hundredth birthday.
- "Beyond the Shifting Sands" notes the passing of the following contributors to the Oz saga:
- Blanche Cirker, co-founder of Dover Publications, which reprinted not only all of L. Frank Baum's Oz books, but also many of his significant non-Oz works.
- David McKee, illustrator of the Puffin Classics editions of the Oz books.
- Larry Storch, the actor, comedian, impressionist, and voice artist whose long and storied career includes Amos the farmhand and, uncredited when Danny Thomas became unavailable, the Tin Man in the 1972 animated movie Journey Back to Oz.
- Club members Marilyn E. Carlson, Dan Castle (formerly know as Dan Cox), and Lee Theriot.
- "Through the Tube!" found various narrated Oz adaptations on YouTube:
- The Wizard of Oz, read by Bernard Cribbins.
- The Wizard of Oz, read by Stephen Moore.
- The Scarecrow of Oz, read by Ray Bolger (of course!) for Disneyland Records.
- Whoops! A production error in the Spring 2022 issue meant that a picture was left off the inside back cover. But in a repurposed pectin ad, Judy Garland shows Frank Morgan where to find the missing illustration and how to insert it into the Bugle.
- Sarah K. Crotzer continues her interview with illustrator Janet K. Lee in part 2 of "Poppies and Tall Crowns".
- Robert B. Luehrs looks at the alchemical roots of L. Frank Baum's 1906 fantasy in "John Dough and the Alchemist".
- Brady Schwind interviews the scriptwriter and director/musical director for the Dobama Theatre's new production of the second Oz book in "The Land of Oz: Making Magic with George Brant and Nathan Motta at Dobama Theatre".
- As a sneak peek at this production, the sheet music for the song "Won't You Be My Friend" by Brant and Motta is also part of this issue.
- "What Earthquake?" by Robin Hess looks at the historical records to figure out just which quake started Dorothy, Zeb, Jim, and Eureka on their underground journey in Dorothy and the Wizard of Oz.
- Ruth Berman delves into the history of Oz dramas in the Minneapolis-St. Paul area in "Oz on Twin Cities Stages".
- "Oz in the Arts" looks at Forever Oz, staged by the OSO Arts Center in London in May of 2022. Nick Campbell also interviews Ian McFarlane, the director of Forever Oz.
- Reviewed in "The Bugle Review":
- The Brides of Maracoor by Gregory Maguire, the first of a new trilogy continuing the stoy of Rain after the Wicked Years, reviewed by Alan Wise.
- El Maravilloso Mago de Oz by L. Frank Baum, translated into Spanish by Celia Filipetto, and illustrated by Ivan Barrenetxea Bahamonde, reviewed by Judy Bieber.
- Lights, Camera, Witchcraft: A Critical History of Witches in American Film and Television by Heather Greene, reviewed by Ryan Bunch.
- Oz (A Symphonic Poem) by Giorgio Coslovich, reviewed by David Diket.
- The Wizard of Oz Adventure Book Game from Ravensburger, reviewed by Sara K. Crotzer.
- Michael Patrick Hearn remembers one of the major contributors to the Oz saga and L. Frank Baum Award winner in "From Kansas to Cairo: David Moyer's Road to Oz".
Also included with this issue:
- A Wicked Witch of the West marionette to color, cut out, and assemble.
- The latest issue of The Oz Gazette, the newsletter for younger of Oz fans, no matter their actual age:
- Wait a minute, who is Princess Toodee and why is she taking over ruling Oz while Ozma is away?
- In his "Letter from the Editor", the Scarecrow expresses his concerns about Oz's latest princess.
- The serialized story "The Valley of the Kalidahs" concludes.
- "Meet an Oz Club Youth Member" introduces us to Django from California.
- "The Woggle-Bug's Contest" poses another puzzler from the highly magnified insect himself.
- And in "The Ozzity Report", Katie Jones reports on sightings of Oz creatures in Venice, Italy, while urging everyone in the Great Outside World to keep an eye out for Ozma.
August 6, 2022: The Oz Club Awards
The International Wizard of Oz Club presented its annual awards tonight, honoring excellence in writing and art, as well as its highest award.
- The Frederick E. Otto Prize for original Oz fiction went to Suren Oganessian for the story "A Rotten Pumpkin", with J. L. Bell's "Glinda and the Glass Cat" being awarded the runner-up prize.
- The Warren C. Hollister Prize for non-fiction went to Ashley Fletcher for the essay "The True Power of the Ruby Slippers".
- The Rob Roy MacVeigh Prize for art went to Ashley Fletcher for "The Rulers of the Game", with second place going to David Valentin for "Wogglebug College".
- And the L. Frank Baum Memorial Award, the highest honor an Oz fan can receive, went to Sean Patrick Duffley, Oz scholar extraordinaire and former Editor-in-Chief of the Club's journal, The Baum Bugle.
July 15, 2022: The Winkie Award
Tonight, OzCon International presented its highest honor, the Winkie Award, to Herm Bieber. Herm has contributed to many OzCons of the past, including materials and presentations on rare Oz books and Baumiana, as well as participating in many costume contests, and selling books in the dealers' room.
(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 latest Oz projects to be announced in Hollywood: Cheshire Crossing, the graphic novel by Andy Weir and Sarah Anderson, optioned by Amblin Partners (see this report); and an animated musical adaptation of the book Toto: The Dog-Gone Amazing Story of the Wizard of Oz, where the story is told from Toto's point of view, to be produced at Warner Bros. (see this source).
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.)