Thursday, March 7, 2013

‘Wizard of Oz’ alive and well thanks to the public domain

A big reason why new commercial works based on “The Wizard of Oz” are so popular is because the original work is in the public domain. Since it’s no longer covered by copyright, it is free to adapt by any artist.
Artists like filmmakers, illustrators and authors can sell their own interpretations of the classic story without having to get permission from rights holders. Disney’s “Oz the Great and Powerful” opens Friday and is a prequel to the original story. The big-budget movie stars James Franco, Michelle Williams, Rachel Weisz and Mila Kunis.
As I’ve written previously, other Oz works are either in limited release or in production. They include the live-action film “Dorothy and the Witches of Oz” and the animated movie “Dorothy of Oz.”
Also in development is a movie musical based on the Broadway musical “Wicked,” which tells the story of witches Glinda and Elphaba. It’s based on the best-selling book of the same name, which in turn is based on the public domain “Wizard of Oz.”
Last April, E! ordered a pilot for a scripted drama called “Dorothy” from writer Natalie Krinsky (“Gossip Girl” and “Grey’s Anatomy”) and Warner Horizon Television. In the Oz-inspired show, “a girl from Kansas City falls for a man and moves with him to the Emerald City to work at his Emerald Hotel,” according to EW.
Even a porn studio has caught the Oz bug. Last month, X-Play wrapped principal production on the porn parody “Not the Wizard of Oz XXX,” starring Maddy O’Reilly as Dorothy, according to AVN. The adult video is due for release in April.
Photographers, illustrators and other artists also have been riffing on “The Wizard of Oz” for years. I’ll discuss that in a follow-up article.

Photos: Poster from Disney’s “Oz the Great and Powerful” (top) and photo of Maddy O’Reilly as Dorothy in “Not the Wizard of Oz XXX.”

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