Wednesday, November 30, 2016

The Royal Podcast of Oz: Christmas in Kansas

Garrett Kilgore reads a new Christmas story by Jay Davis. Christmas in Kansas tells of how Dorothy Gale, Aunt Em and Uncle Henry celebrated Christmas following the events of Dorothy and the Wizard in Oz.

Anyone wishing to read the story instead is welcome to a free PDF or an EPUB (zipped).

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The Royal Podcast of Oz: The Movies of Oz - Virtual Oz

Jay and Sam take a good look at another adventure from The Oz Kids series: Virtual Oz. The Oz Kids wind up trapped in Otto's mysterious computer game. Can they win and get home or are they stuck for good?

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Saturday, November 26, 2016

Returning to Oz documentary on Kickstarter

Aaron Pacentine is at it again with a Kickstarter for a documentary dedicated to Disney's Return to Oz. Involved will be director Walter Murch, producer Paul Maslansky, publicist Craig Miller, cast members Emma Ridley (Ozma), Pons Maar (Head Wheeler), Justin Case (Scarecrow), and Sophie Ward (Mombi II/Dancing girl). While I've reviewed productions by Aaron in the past with a rather critical eye, the fact remains that this documentary should provide some good insight into the film.

Now, I'm rather late on sharing this Kickstarter, as it only has less than a week left. (Look, if you've seen my personal Twitter, you know my mind has been in places other than Oz lately...) But they've only got less than a thousand to go before reaching their goal.

Aaron is offering a number of Return to Oz collectibles from custom-made replica OZ keys to DVDs of the documentary and other pieces of Return to Oz merchandise, both vintage and recent (including the Disney Movie Club exclusive Blu-Ray and the 2 CD soundtrack).

If you're so inclined to contribute, go to the Kickstarter to donate.

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

'Guardianes de Oz' Gets a U.S. Release Date

Guardianes de Oz, an animated film co-produced in India and Mexico, finally has a U.S. release date. The film is designed and executive produced by Jorge Gutierrez, director of Book of Life and creator of Nickelodeon's El Tigre series, and was released theatrically in Mexico (and I believe in some other countries overseas as well) last year. The film previously had the working titles Save Oz! and Wicked Flying Monkeys but will be released on January 24, 2017 on DVD and digital HD in the U.S. as Guardians of Oz under Lionsgate's Grindstone Entertainment banner.

The English-language version of the film features the voices of YouTube "sensation" Jenn McAllister (billed in the trailer and on the DVD cover with her Twitter username), someone named Mikey Bolts, and actress Ambyr Childers. It's not that I dislike any of these people or their performances from what's presented in the trailer, but I do wish that professional voice actors were used instead. Speaking as someone who is bilingual and half-Mexican, I'm disappointed that the home video release will not include the original Spanish-language audio track. (Speaking of disappointments, why isn't this being released on Blu-ray? Ugh.)

Per the press release issued by Lionsgate, the DVD will include a behind-the-scenes featurette, which I am interested in seeing (although I'm not holding my breath for anything too extensive or insightful there), and for some reason, several "episodes" of Minuscle, a series of short, insect-themed animated films produced in France. The press release suggests a $19.98 retail price for the DVD, and that's currently the price listed on Amazon, but I would be shocked if that price didn't come down significantly before the release date.

I've been keeping an eye on this one for awhile, so I'm glad to see that it is being released here, and I'll definitely be reviewing it down the road. I'm thinking about getting a copy of the Mexican home video release of the film as well, which could make for an interesting review comparing the two. In the meantime, you can watch the trailer below and, if you're into it, pre-order the DVD on Amazon here.

Friday, October 28, 2016

The Royal Podcast of Oz: Toto Lost In New York

Jay and Sam talk about the first Oz Kids story arc: Toto Lost in New York. Plus, WHAT WAS THAT YOU SAW ONLINE ABOUT AN OZ KIDS MOVIE? Um... Jay explains.

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"It's Halloween soon."

Around this time of year, I often find myself itching to watch Return to Oz (and listening to its score). I think that's because, even though it isn't a true "Halloween" movie, it does have some themes and visuals that pair up nicely with the holiday.

There's the Jack Pumpkinhead character, whose head is jack-o-lantern (and who bears a pretty strong resemblance to Jack Skellington in The Nightmare Before Christmas, as many fans have pointed out over the years). 

There's the haunting score and occasionally scary visuals. 

And there's even an odd little scene early on in the film in which Dorothy is given a pumpkin by a little girl at the ward who tells her, "It's Halloween soon." 

Anyway, it seems like I'm not alone in my inclination to sort of pair up Return to Oz with Halloween as I've noticed that this is the time of year that I see more people talking about the movie on social media (usually about how "creepy" or "traumatizing" it is to watch), and it's also the time that there seems to be more fan art being done. 

I've come across some pretty great Return to Oz fan art recently, and I thought I would share some of my favorite work here. 

The following pieces are by Brooklyn-based artist Allison Steinfeld, posted on her Instagram account as part of the "Inktober" challenge. I really enjoy her style and think she does an excellent job capturing different moments from the film, especially the film's more bizarre moments.

A photo posted by Allison (@allisonsteinfeld) on

A photo posted by Allison (@allisonsteinfeld) on

A photo posted by Allison (@allisonsteinfeld) on

A photo posted by Allison (@allisonsteinfeld) on

A photo posted by Allison (@allisonsteinfeld) on

A photo posted by Allison (@allisonsteinfeld) on

Steinfeld's artwork reminds me of our own Sam Milazzo's. Sam has done a lot of Oz-inspired artwork, as you can see by taking a look at his Deviantart profile, including his very own comic book adaptation of Return to Oz (yes, the entire film). Sam's attention to detail is impressive, and it's a very nice adaptation of the film. I particularly appreciate the little nods to the books and the inclusion of some of the film's deleted scenes. If Return to Oz is your jam, you should definitely take the time to check it out (link here).

Sam has also created a number of Return to Oz videos over the years, my favorite being the "fan trailer" he created for the film's 30th 25th anniversary. I think too many of the "fan trailers" I've seen for Return to Oz present the film to be much more dark and disturbing than it really is, so I like that Sam's provides what I think is a more accurate representation of the film.

I've only scratched the surface of what's out there in terms of Return to Oz fan art, so I encourage you to peruse Instagram, Tumblr, or your social media platform of choice, and feel free to share any great Return to Oz fan art you've come across (or that you've done yourself) in the comments.

Happy Halloween, everyone!

A fun drawing by the one and only Eric Shanower.

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Conserving the Ruby Slippers

In the filming of MGM's The Wizard of Oz, several pairs of Ruby Slippers were created for the film. They weren't the Silver Shoes Baum described in his book, but they served the same purpose in the film: taken from the remains of the Wicked Witch of the East, Dorothy wears them throughout the story until Glinda tells her how she can use the magic power of the shoes to return home. As such, the Ruby Slippers have become an iconic image for The Wizard of Oz as many people know the film.

A screen used pair of the Ruby Slippers was anonymously donated to the Smithsonian Museum, and they became a very popular item, in fact, the Museum would have to often change the carpet under them because it wore out from people frequenting their display case so much.

However, the Smithsonian now has a problem: those shoes weren't made to last forever, and threads are beginning to break on the shoes, the sequins are losing their luster and falling off. However, the Museum's funding doesn't allow for this type of restoration work. So... Kickstarter!

Yeah, the Smithsonian has opened a Kickstarter for conserving the Ruby Slippers for future generations. They started this a couple days ago, and it's already gotten more than half the goal pledged. But even popular Kickstarter campaigns can slump behind, so if you're able to, go ahead and make a pledge to help a piece of Oz history stick around for future generations to enjoy. And there's some specially designed memorabilia being offered for perks, so if you want something nice to add to your collection, here's your chance.

Anyone interested in our historic look at Oz, I'm researching Chittenango and New York at the time of Baum's birth and childhood, so watch this space...

Thursday, October 06, 2016

The Royal Podcast of Oz: How Donald Abbott Came To Oz

Jay talks with Donald Abbott, author/illustrator/cartoonist/screenwriter of How The Wizard Came to Oz and other Oz stories. Donald reveals why his illustrations follow the style of W.W. Denslow, how Books of Wonder came to publish his books, and how How The Wizard Came to Oz has developed over the years.

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Tuesday, September 27, 2016

The Royal Podcast of Oz: The Oz Kids (Intro)

Jay and Sam prepare for a multi-episode discussion of The Oz Kids video series, starting by giving some general information about the series, including its characters, premise and general availability.

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