Is James Franco right for the Wizard in Disney's new film Oz: The Great and Powerful -- that's a question Laura Kennedy asks when she interviews me in a podcast about The Wizard of Oz films and books. Here's a link to the podcast on WGLT (our local NPR station), which aired Friday, March 8. You can hear my answer as well as information about the film of the new Oz and my thoughts on political allegories in the original books.
The media interest reflects, I think, that there's a genuine excitement about a new film based on The Wizard of Oz books. So far, the film is getting mixed reviews -- see reviews by Richard Roeper in The Sun-Times (reviewing instead of Roger Ebert) or Mahnola Dargis in The New York Times. Yet, as Laura Kennedy points out in the podcast, the original MGM film was also somewhat panned by the critics. But it gained a following through its own technological twist, aired repeatedly at Easter time on TV networks, that Baum would have appreciated. Those annual telecasts insured that the film was cemented in children's imaginations and subconsciousness. So whatever the critics think, our family is still going to see the film and be captivated.
And, I'm looking forward to teaching The Wizard of Oz in my children's literature class this spring.
File under O-Z.