Posts Tagged ‘Universal Pictures’

The Wiz History

Source: Wikipedia

Motown Productions acquired the film rights to The Wiz in 1977, and signed Stephanie Mills in anticipation of having her star in the film adaptation. Motown singer and actress Diana Ross asked Motown CEO Berry Gordy to cast her as Dorothy instead, but Gordy declined, feeling the thirty-three year old Ross was far too old for the part. However, Ross contacted Rob Cohen of Universal Pictures, who offered to have Universal finance the film if Ross were to play Dorothy, at which point Gordy acquiesced.

The resulting film version of The Wiz also starred former Motown star Michael Jackson as The Scarecrow, Nipsey Russell as the Tin Man, [Richard Pryor]as the Wiz, and Lena Horne as Glinda the Good Witch. Ted Ross and Mabel King reprised their respective roles of the Cowardly Lion and Evilene from the Broadway production. Sidney Lumet served as director, working with screenwriter Joel Schumacher (who used none of Brown’s stage script) and music supervisor Quincy Jones. Although the stage musical’s setting begins in Kansas before moving into the fanciful Oz (as do most other versions of the Oz stories), the film version of The Wiz is set in New York City: Dorothy’s real-life home is in Harlem, and the Oz of the film is an alternate fantasy version of the rest of New York City. The $22 million production was poorly received by critics and grossed only $12 million during its original theatrical release. Nor has it become an annual favorite on television as the famous 1939 film of “The Wizard of Oz” did.

The Wiz was Michael Jackson’s first feature film, and is Diana Ross’s final theatrical feature film to date. Its commercial failure helped to bring to an end the stream of all-black films that had begun with the “blaxploitation film” era of the 1970s.[1][2] However, Michael Jackson and Quincy Jones’s collaboration on the film’s soundtrack led to Jones producing three of Jackson’s most successful albums, Off the Wall, Thriller, and Bad. In later years, due to its recurrent broadcasts on television, The Wiz has become something of a cult classic among African-American audiences. [3]

We Knew It Would Happen..We Didn’t Know When..Until Now! Return Of The Wiz (The Movie)

Return Of The Wiz (The Movie)

History repeats itself thirty years later with, Dorothy Marlene as the 22-year old daughter, of the late Dorothy Mae, who along with her dog, Toto are engulfed in a swirling hurricane and thrown into the land of Oz.

Dorothy’s challenges begin when she finds her one-way ticket home, granted by the Wiz will cost her the price of her life. Along her journey she befriends a brainless electronically controlled Scarecrow, a heartless Tin Man from Lover’s Lane, and a socially rejected cowardly Lion from the Congo.

The quartet battles against; sinister flying monkeys, reformed munchkins, hideous crawling creatures and the ultimate Evillous, the daughter of the late Evilleen Wicked Witch of the West, before the Wiz will grant their personal wishes.