‘Oz’ remake writer: I know fans could burn my house down

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With all the ‘Wizard of Oz’ remake action out there, we caught up with Josh Olson, the ‘History of Violence’ writer who has written a script for one of the potential ‘Wizard of Oz’ remakes. His film, which is titled simply ‘Oz’ and set up at Warner Bros., concerns a granddaughter of Dorothy’s who returns to Oz -- so, unlike the other versions, it’s set in the modern day.

Olson turned in his draft a while ago, and Warners, he says, has been seeking a comedic writer who could add a layer of funny.


Olson says this version will seek to blend elements from the 1939 MGM musical (Warners owns the rights, so no legal issues there) and the original L. Frank Baum novel. ‘The goal was to try write something that would satisfy both [sets of fans].’

Despite the new protagonist, as well as other new characters, Olson says the film isn’t looking to wipe the slate clean; the Tin Man, Cowardly Lion and Scarecrow all figuring in prominently. The girl ‘reconnects with all of your favorite characters and meets some new ones,’ he says.

Given the tone of his previous work -- we’re still flashing back to the vengeance Viggo Mortensen exacts on William Hurt -- one might expect the film to take a really dark turn.

But Olson says he says he’s leavened his script with some lightness. ‘It’s not a kids film but it’s certainly not ‘Aliens,’ ' he said. And he points out that, with its iconic monkey scene, the original had its scares too.

News of ‘Oz’ remakes has engendered a strong reaction among fans who hold the original close to their heart. Olson says he’s conscious of the risks of tackling a classic. ‘You want to write something that takes people back to the fondness they had for the original,’ he says. ‘I’m aware of the fact that there are a couple million people who will come to your house and burn it down if you don’t get it right.’

-- Steve Zeitchik


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