Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Y'all can comment now!

Just wanted to let you know that I finally set the comment settings so non-Blogger users can comment on my blog now.

Saturday, September 23, 2006

He's the Wizard!

Okay, so I recently got a copy of the Original Cast Recording of The Wiz on CD. My only previous exposure to these songs were in that gosh-awful 1978 movie.

The Wiz was first produced in 1974, and was an adaptation of Baum's original Oz book. It sticks very faithfully to the story, despite a few break-downs of scenes (Glinda arrives after the Wizard leaves, but she is summoned by Addaperle, the Good Witch of the North, this time, not appearing like someone to answer all of Dorothy's problems.), and a few touches for an African-American setting. The play won seven Tony awards. You can read the script for the play here.

When a film version was produced, the producers and the director decided to do a whole new adaptation of The Wizard of Oz, to avoid comparision to the 1939 movie. In my opinion, the end result looks much more like the Judy Garland musical than the play did. Most of the characters were miscast. In fact, on a documentary found on the DVD, it sounds like the casting went like this:

  • Diana Ross calls and says she wants the part of Dorothy, thus Dorothy becomes an adult. (They state "the book never mentioned Dorothy's age," but in several places in the book, she is referred to as a "little girl.")
  • They make a wish-list of who they want to play who, despite the actor/actress' adeptness. Somehow, they got them.

One touch was to take Dorothy's home from Kansas and put it in New York City. That would've been okay, but then Oz is a dressed-up version of NYC as well! Allen Eyles in his book The World of Oz says that they overdid it on that, as well as designing the sets without affection. Oz looks dark and uninteresting.

Making Dorothy an adult majorly hurt the story's themes. Especially when Aunt Em tells Dorothy she needs to find her own home, why would she want to go back home after she gets to Oz? I mean, I'm in the process of moving out from my parents' house, but if I got a chance to move to OZ (Baum's Oz), I'd take it! Leonard Maltin goes so far as to call the movie "confusing." You can read the dialogue for the movie here.

Usually, when songs are reproduced for a movie, they sound better. Such is not the case in the film version of The Wiz. Just compare DeeDee Bridgewater's version of If You Believe to Lena Horne's Believe In Yourself. Lena Horne was a good singer, but this song was not written for her talent, nor was it arranged for her to sing it.

All of the original cast songs sound more lively than the movie. Once again, the songs were not written for the film's cast.

Stephanie Mills sings all of her songs infinitely better than Diana Ross, and Hinton Battle's I Was Born On The Day Before Yesterday sure beats Micheal Jackson's You Can't Win. In a post on the IWOC message board, Eric Shanower stated that more "whining" was not what this movie needed.

Be good to yourself and order a copy of the Original Cast Recording.

(EDIT: Got some last names wrong. Sorry. Fixed them up.)

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

New direction for the blog...

Hey, I'm thinking of widening the scope of this blog. Yeah, I'll still talk about the screenplays and how they could be made into films, (blah, blah, blah, Bob Loblaw) but I don't really talk about my other interests in the Oz field. (For example: I've never mentioned my stories about the early history of Oz on this blog.) Maybe get some reviews up for Oz/Oz-related items I've bought, show some of my Oz artwork, and just really have a lot more fun with this blog than I have had in the past. (Just a little over 10 posts in almost a year? Not good!) Comment and tell me what you think. The blog may have a new name and theme soon!

EDIT: Test-run!

Anyhow, I'm putting this up here: it's a copy/paste and edit of a post I put up on the IWOC message board, so those of you who post there and also look here, this will seem familiar...

Making ROAD work...

Okay, for anyone who has kept up with this blog, I recently finished my screen adaptation of OZMA OF OZ, and have decided to take a break before leaping into DOROTHY AND THE WIZARD IN OZ.

DOROTHY AND THE WIZARD contains some great dramatic moments, what with a city of heartless vegetable people who want to kill our heroes, a valley of invisible bears and people (imagine that dinner scene with all the food flying around...), the wooden gargoyles, baby dragons! The Wizard's story was already told in WONDERFUL WIZARD, basically, and not a lot else needs to be told, and I did some editing to absolve Oscar Zoraster Phadrig Issac Norman Henkle Emmanuel Ambroise Diggs from all blame for the kidnapping of Princess Ozma. (Mombi tricked him.) The trial of Eureka and the race between Jim & the Sawhorse I'm not sure about, they would make great scenes, but on the other hand, they're not very dramatic, though humorous. Still, it shouldn't be too hard to adapt.

Now, comes the harder one: THE ROAD TO OZ. Considered by many to be the weakest of the Oz books, though it is a favorite with many, it has the least really dramatic scenes. Pretty much all that's there that would look AWESOME in a movie is the Scoodlers and the Sandboat. Ideas for adapting... perhaps adapt insert plots from some of Baum's short Oz stories? Maybe change it to guests at Ozma's party telling stories? (Then we could have abbrievated versions of QUEEN ZIXI OF IX, JOHN DOUGH & THE CHERUB, etc.) Any ideas on how this story could work?

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

New video, Ozma's done, Adventures!

Hey! I got a new vid on YouTube! It doesn't have much to do with my Oz screenplays, but it's cool and Ozzy nonetheless.

Now, let me give some "Behind The Scenes" information: the Rainbow Road to Oz song was recorded directly from a video that a fellow Oz fan sent me. The TV I was using had a headphone jack, and I had a Sound Recorder that could record from a stereo cable, which can plug into a headphone jack and a microphone jack at the same time. The early clips were from clips on the Dorothy & Ozma Productions website, my own Oz website. There were also some I'd found online and simply had to convert to a usable format. However, the clips from Return to Oz and the 1939 Wizard of Oz were DVD rips I made especially for this video. I made all of the 3D-animations here.

Okay, so I finished L. Frank Baum's Ozma of Oz in the wee hours of last Saturday morning. There's a few revisions to do, yet, but I read through it and it looks like it could be a fun, fast paced film! I especially had fun with the character of Roquat, the Nome King. At the beginning, he's a nice, smooth-spoken guy, but as his enchantments are broken, he turns into a hate-filled monarch! In the scene where Dorothy and Evring are hearing the bell tolling that Billina is breaking the enchantments, Roquat raises his hand to hit Dorothy, saying "Shut up!" He is swiftly kicked in the stomach by the Sawhorse!

One character I altered was Kaliko, the Nome King's chief steward, who actually wasn't named until The Emerald City of Oz, but it doesn't hurt to give someone a name early. He's still a little haughty towards Roquat, but Baum's description of him doesn't sound a lot like the nome who will be Roquat's successor. (As revealed in Tik-Tok of Oz.) I altered his description to be a bit more elegant.

I originally decided that after Ozma, I would take a break from writing Oz screenplays, maybe work on getting more petitions for my first one. (Sebastian has already offered a way to get more.) However, I got a nice idea for the opening of L. Frank Baum's Dorothy & the Wizard in Oz, so I'll keep you posted on any developments.

I recently got my copy of Eric Shanower's Adventures in Oz. Perhaps you think this has nothing to do with my screenplays, but actually, Eric's "standardization" of Oz is really the same as what I've been going with on my screenplays! In an interview I did with Eric S., I even asked if he might be interested in doing conceptual art for a new Oz movie. I also sent a review of this book to Eric Gjovaag (click on his name to see his Oz blog, and don't confuse him with Mr. Shanower!) to put on his reviews page at his website. Whether or not Eric G. puts it up is completely up to him.