Trevor Hogg chats with Roger S. Baum about a family legacy involving a Tin Man, a Cowardly Lion, and Flying Monkeys…
When he was approached by the International Wizard Club of Oz in 1987, a former banker and stockbroker decided to expand upon the fantasy world created by his great grandfather L. Frank Baum who wrote the original series of Oz books which led to the cinematic classic The Wizard of Oz (1939) starring Judy Garland (Meet Me in St. Louis). “I was so young that I really don’t remember a specific date,” answers Roger S. Baum when asked when he first became aware of the family connection to the story where a young girl from Kansas with her dog is transported by a tornado to a magical kingdom divided between good and evil witches. “All I can generally say is, all my life.” A particular moment has left lasting impression upon Baum. “I must agree with most Oz fans the scene would be the flying monkeys in The Wizard of Oz.” As to where he would like visit in Oz and meet, the children’s author responds, “I would love to go to the Emerald City and visit with Glinda.” Adding to the universal appeal of the fantasy series was that L. Frank Baum followed the tradition of fairy tales which are cautionary tales. “Of course, good stories that are adventures have a little dark side. All children’s books, for the most part, need a little ‘tension’ which helps to maintain interest in the story.”
With the publishing of Dorothy of Oz, Roger S. Baum made a literary contribution to the world created by his great grandfather. “You need to stay within the bounds of Love, Heart, Wisdom and Courage. The key is pure healthy entertainment and by the way, there is no room for Politics.” The story revolves around Dorothy returning with her beloved dog Toto where she discovers a nearly deserted Emerald City; she also learns that the broom of the Wicked Witch of the West has been stolen and the Flying Monkeys are unleashing havoc throughout the land. “[I wanted] to add to the fun and enjoyment for Oz fans everywhere.” A particular scene Baum is looking forward to seeing in the 3D computer animated musical adaptation Legends of Oz: Dorothy’s Return featuring the vocal talents of Lea Michele (New Year’s Eve), Hugh Dancy (Ella Enchanted), Kelsey Grammer (Toy Story 2), Dan Aykroyd (Spies Like Us), Jim Belushi (K-9), Patrick Stewart (X-Men: Days of Future Past) and Brian Blessed (Flash Gordon). “The excitement of the tornado and how they characters are all intertwined in this action.”
Helming the family adventure project which includes songs by Canadian singer/songwriter Bryan Adams (Reckless) was the responsibility of co-directors Will Finn (Pocahontas) and Daniel St Pierre (The Lion King). “Both of these gentlemen have a history of outstanding work; their creative minds only added to the success of this Oz story. I had final script approval.” The Oz legacy which began 75 years ago is not going to disappear any time soon with the emergence of multimedia platforms and the popularity of visual effects blockbusters like Oz the Great and Powerful (2013). “There is nothing but pure excitement ahead. It will slowly take on a more modern look including new worlds and adventures into space. I touched on this in my new book, The Oz Enigma [Tate Publishing].” Roger S. Baum concludes, “I hope Oz will continue forever. It has so much goodness and soft teachings that are sound advice for all. What I mean by soft teaching, it does not shout good lessons. It is just there within all the stories.”
Many thanks to Roger S. Baum for taking the time for this interview.
To learn more visit the official website for Legends of Oz: Dorothy’s Return.
Legends of Oz: Dorothy’s Return is currently available in the U.S. and arrives on Blu-ray and DVD on September 22, 2014 in the UK courtesy of Signature Entertainment.
Trevor Hogg is a freelance video editor and writer who currently resides in Canada.