OZ : new movies to be nervous about

          Well, it would certainly be nice if these new Oz-related movies helped drum up some new and broader interest in The Royal Historian of Oz, a graphic novel I recently completed with artist Andy Hirsch, published by SLG, Inc.
          Aside from that possibility, I'm scared. I'm always scared when somebody treads on literary sacred ground. Will it be a sacrilege? Will I want to gouge out my own eyes? That's what's so nerve-wracking about CREATING something based on a much-loved children's classic. I was nervous when I started writing Royal Historian, but I'm a fan of the original books by L. Frank Baum, and tried to show as much respect and reverence for the original material as possible.
          Here are the new Oz movies in the works:

          Oz: the Great and Powerful. A prequel starring James Franco as a younger Wizard of Oz, scheduled for a March 2013 release. Here is Disney's official synopsis:
Walt Disney Pictures' fantastical adventure "Oz The Great and Powerful," directed by Sam Raimi, imagines the origins of L. Frank Baum's beloved character, the Wizard of Oz. When Oscar Diggs (James Franco), a small-time circus magician with dubious ethics, is hurled away from dusty Kansas to the vibrant Land of Oz, he thinks he's hit the jackpot--fame and fortune are his for the taking--that is until he meets three witches, Theodora (Mila Kunis), Evanora (Rachel Weisz) and Glinda (Michelle Williams), who are not convinced he is the great wizard everyone's been expecting. Reluctantly drawn into the epic problems facing the Land of Oz and its inhabitants, Oscar must find out who is good and who is evil before it is too late. Putting his magical arts to use through illusion, ingenuity--and even a bit of wizardry--Oscar transforms himself not only into the great and powerful Wizard of Oz but into a better man as well.
          Here's what I don't like about this so far: I don't find the Wizard to be one of the most interesting characters, especially if they're going by the movie version of the Wizard. Also- I saw James Franco most recently in Rise of the Planet of the Apes, and the CG ape turned in a far more nuanced and believable performance.
          I don't like that bit at the end, about the Wizard transforming himself into a better man. Are we going to get hit over the head with a moral? Besides, since this is a prequel, I think it's too early for the Wizard to become a better man, since he is still a charlatan and a fake when Dorothy meets him. It's only later in the original series of books that the Wizard develops real magic powers.
          But who knows? Maybe I'll end up liking it. I LOVED Disney's 1985 live-action Return To Oz, with Fairuza Balk as Dorothy.

          Dorothy of Oz. This one is a CG animated movie (Summertime Entertainment/Alpine Pictures), scheduled for a May 2012 release. Voices by Lea Michele (Dorothy), Martin Short (a new villain called the Jester), Dan Aykroyd (the Scarecrow), Kelsey Grammer (the Tin Man), and Jim Belushi (the Cowardly Lion). Oh- and Patrick Stewart as a tugboat. WTF, right?
          It's based on a book by Roger S. Baum, one of L. Frank Baum's great-grandsons. The story takes place as soon as Dorothy returns home after her very first trip to Oz. Kansas is all f***ed up from the twister, but then she's whisked back to Oz, where she and her pals are confronted by "The Jester," a character NOT in the original books, and since he's being voiced by Martin Short I can only imagine how annoying it will be. I'm already annoyed by Lea Michele voicing Dorothy, since I find her strident and obnoxious on "Glee." I have a bad attitude about this, and maybe I need to turn my frown upside-down. But that's just how I roll.

          You know, I'm not ALWAYS a sourpuss about this sort of thing. I was really looking forward to Disney & Tim Burton's Alice In Wonderland. It's a shame that movie basically shat all over Lewis Carroll's beautiful creation. If you want to see what a dick I am about it, go HERE.