OFFBEAT: Sans fest, readers hopeful for future of 'Oz' wiith film, stage

Phil Potempa's daily entertainment news column
2013-09-20T00:00:00Z OFFBEAT: Sans fest, readers hopeful for future of 'Oz' wiith film, stageBy Philip Potempa, (219) 852-4327

My column earlier this week about "The Wizard of Oz" prompted a tornado of emails and calls from readers.

"Philip: I'm very disappointed that the Wizard of Oz Festival is no longer in Chesterton. It was interesting to read your column in The Times today. My cousin and her husband were in the new 'Oz: The Great and Powerful' movie. They were also in the festival's parade last year, and were looking forward to this year's event. Their names are Bernie and Dee Dee Allemon and they are little people who played Munchkins in the new film that starred James Franco. A few years ago, you crowned Dee Dee as a past winner of the Lupus Chili Cook-Off in Merrillville when you were judging it. My mother is Phyllis Simko, and the chili event was always one of my father Richard Simko's favorite events. I just wanted to tell you about my cousin and her 'Oz' connection. In 2007, her whole family also did an episode of ABC's 'Wife Swap,' and Dee Dee was also flown in to be on Rosie O' Donnell's show for a segment about 'Rosie look- a-likes.' Thank you! Sincerely, Joni Oliver'

Thank you for your email Joni. I certainly remember Dee Dee and her beaming smile, which I'm glad has been captured on the big screen for Disney film "Oz: The Great and Powerful," which was a hit earlier this year with audiences. Even though we didn't have the Oz Fest in Chesterton this year, projects like this film help transport a new generation of film audiences over the rainbow.

Our South Lake County Reporter Correspondent Diane Poulton also had a scoop to share with me about the new Broadway stage treatment of "The Wizard of Oz" mentioned earlier this week in my Wednesday column.

"Hi Phil: I enjoyed your column on 'Wizard of Oz' today. It's one of my favorite movies to share with my grandkids aka the munchkins. I wanted to let you know we saw the Andrew Lloyd Webber production you described in your column, when it was at the Paladium Theatre in London last year. We had taken a cruise to Europe and spent a night in London. We can't wait until they schedule the tour to stop in Chicago for a run so we can take our munchkins. It was a fantastic production. The special effects in the beginning tornado scene are amazing! We thoroughly enjoyed the entire musical, especially the real dog playing Toto, who was so well trained. I always enjoy your column. Thank you! Diane Poulton, Times Correspondent"

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

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