The Wiz (1978) Poster



Original director John Badham was fired when he objected to Diana Ross, then 33 years old, being cast as the 14-year-old Dorothy. Though in the movie, her character was changed to a 24-year-old kindergarten school teacher.
In his book "Making Movies," Sidney Lumet admits that the filming of the Emerald City Sequence on the plaza at the World Trade Center had to be cut short because of wind and scheduling. The Port Authority would not allow more time to fix the mistakes, the red sequence had to be shortened due to a lighting error, and there was no time to re-shoot.
Motown Productions bought the rights to the stage show with the intent of having Stephanie Mills reprise the role of Dorothy. However, Diana Ross lobbied intensely for the role. Despite the fact that everyone (including Motown head and former lover Berry Gordy) believed that she, being 13 years older than Mills, was too old, she insisted that the role of Dorothy was ageless. She also said she would be able to guarantee Michael Jackson as the Scarecrow if she was cast.
In 2003, Entertainment Weekly magazine named the film #28 of the 50 Top Cult Movies.
The first song that Michael Jackson sings, "You Can't Win," was originally written for the stage version for the Winkies to sing to Dorothy about the futility of escaping from Evillene. The song was cut from the stage version of the musical during previews but was included in the film as the Scarecrow's song.
According to her unauthorized biography, "Call Her Ms. Ross," Diana Ross was hospitalized and nearly blinded by a lighting effect used in the movie.
Joel Schumacher used his connections in the fashion industry to procure the hundreds of costumes used in the Emerald City sequence.
Simultaneously with the release of the film, Congoleum, the flooring company that designed the look of the Yellow Brick Road for the film, also marketed the same design (also called Yellow Brick Road) for home use.
The original New York production of "The Wiz" opened at the Majestic Theater on January 5, 1975, starring Stephanie Mills, ran for 1,672 performances and won the 1975 Tony Awards for the Best Musical and Score and was nominated for Best Book.
The scene in which the Cowardly Lion emerges from one of the statues in front of the main research branch of the New York Public Library was shot on a set instead of the actual location because it was logistically impossible to film an entire scene devoid of people, save the main actors, without traffic and pedestrians getting in the way of the production.
At the time of production, director Sidney Lumet was the son-in-law of Lena Horne (Glinda, the Good Witch).
The duet between Michael Jackson and Diana Ross on "Ease On Down the Road" was released as a single by MCA Records in September, 1978. This single just barely missed the Top 40 radio pop charts, where it stalled at #41. However, "Ease On Down the Road" did reach #17 on the Billboard Hot Soul Singles chart that same year.
Sidney Lumet was chosen to direct primarily because of his reputation for finishing his pictures on time and within budget. The movie became the most expensive ever shot in New York City at the time
Diana Ross (Dorothy) is the last surviving star of the film.
Joel Schumacher's script for The Wiz was influenced by Werner Erhard's teachings and his Erhard Seminars Training ("est") movement, as both Schumacher and Diana Ross were proponents. The speech delivered by Glinda the Good Witch at the end of the film, and the song "Believe in Yourself", are particularly laden with est-ian concepts.
The CBS Television Network's eyeball logo, slightly modified with an O and a Z in the middle of the walking microphone and camera, was used in the Emerald City dancing scenes.
In the Emerald City sequence, Quincy Jones is shown as the pianist, but the actual piano player on the soundtrack is Richard Tee.
This was the first film shot at Kaufman Astoria Studios when it was reopened in the 1970s.
Comedian Doug Benson cites this as his movie debut, claiming to have been an extra.
Ted Ross reprised his role as the Cowardly Lion from the 1974 Broadway production.
3 of 3 found this interesting Interesting? | Share this
Share this: Facebook  |  Twitter  |  Permalink
This was Sidney Lumet's only musical.
2 of 3 found this interesting Interesting? | Share this
Share this: Facebook  |  Twitter  |  Permalink
Harry Madsen (Cheetah) and Willie C. Carpenter (Guest at Aunt Em's Party) are the only actors to appear in other films directed by Sidney Lumet: Madsen in Prince of the City (1981), Daniel (1983), Garbo Talks (1984) and Q & A (1990) and Carpenter in Family Business (1989).
1 of 1 found this interesting Interesting? | Share this
Share this: Facebook  |  Twitter  |  Permalink
Jimmie Walker was originally considered the part of the Scarecrow. He turned it down and the part was given to Michael Jackson.
4 of 9 found this interesting Interesting? | Share this
Share this: Facebook  |  Twitter  |  Permalink

See also

Goofs | Crazy Credits | Quotes | Alternate Versions | Connections | Soundtracks

Contribute to This Page