OFF BEAT

OFFBEAT: New 'Oz' film ready for audiences with a new Indiana Munchkin

Phil Potempa's daily entertainment news column
2013-03-07T00:00:00Z OFFBEAT: New 'Oz' film ready for audiences with a new Indiana MunchkinBy Philip Potempa philip.potempa@nwi.com, (219) 852-4327 nwitimes.com

The new Disney film "Oz: The Great and Powerful" is ready to transport a new generation of film audiences over the rainbow starting with midnight screenings tonight.

Remember, this is the same movie that originally had Johnny Depp attached to the role of the Wizard for this prequel story to L. Frank Baum's book series. But instead, the big screen treatment stars actor James Franco in the title role.

Our newspaper neighbor to the east, not to be confused with The Wicked Witch of the East (who had a house land on her in 1939 film classic), The South Bend Tribune, included a great story March 2 about a local face from out their way who can be seen starring in this new film.

Mikey Witous, who wrestled for Penn High School and now helps coach wrestling at Discovery Middle School, was cast as a Munchkin stuntman for the film.

South Bend Tribune reporter Amanda Gray did a wonderful cover story interview with Witous, who has dwarfism.

He told her he was at a Little Person Association Convention in California in 2011 participating in the Dwarf Athletic Association Games when he saw people looking to cast dwarfs for a movie.

He said he was told actress Mila Kunis, who plays the beautiful witch Theodora in the film, and Franco, who plays Oscar Diggs, (and later assumes the Wizard title), were in the movie project, athough the casting producers didn't reveal the film title.

According to reporter Gray's interview, Witous told her he filled out paperwork and gave them his height and weight.

Gray reports "it wasn't until he was back in his Granger home that he got a phone call from Hollywood telling him that he had been cast as one of the 21 Munchkin stuntmen or 'Stunchkins,' as they called themselves. There were 45 Munchkins in total for this movie.

Filming took place in Pontiac, Mich., during the fall of 2011, Witous said.

Witous told Gray he's in the scenes where Oscar Diggs comes to Glinda the Good Witch's castle for the first time, as well as a few others. (Actress Michelle Williams plays Glinda.) He can be also be seen in one of the trailers. He said he got to meet Kunis, and saw Franco, in addition to actor Zach Braff, during the filming.

Witous said he got a yellow brick piece from the set, a hat with the film's logo and a coin from a scene in the movie where Oscar Diggs jumps into a pile of money.

"They used real coins, they had them minted with L. Frank Baum's face on one side and the Emerald City on the other," Witous told Gray for her story, adding that he believes around 100,000 coins were minted.

The opinions expressed are solely those of the writer. He can be reached at philip.potempa@nwi.com or (219) 852-4327.

Copyright 2014 nwitimes.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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