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The Wiz Academy Award Nomination! Academy Award Nomination! Academy Award Nomination! Academy Award Nomination! 

By Shannon Gee

Directed by Sidney Lumet (Serpico) and penned by Joel Schumacher (Batman and Robin), this lavish 1978 adaptation of the Broadway hit The Wiz was the biggest production filmed in New York City up to that point, utilizing the newly revamped Astoria Studios and locations around the city. Diana Ross, Michael Jackson, Nipsey Russell, and Ted Ross (reprising his Tony-winning role as the Lion) star in this Academy Award-nominated musical for the whole family.

The Wiz is probably the grandest take on L. Frank Baum's classic tale The Wizard of Oz. The production team created sets with a sense of urban magic and spectacle: a New York subway station literally comes to life, and the massive plaza between the World Trade Center towers is transformed into the Emerald City, featuring nearly 400 dancers with three costume changes. Like all good musicals, the Quincy Jones arrangements are highly hummable long after viewing (especially the funky "Ease On Down the Road" and the inspirational "Brand New Day"). In an era before MTV, the camera stays nearly stationary as Ross and Lena Horne vocally soar through their numbers. Their stage-like performances successfully make the leap to film, making The Wiz a testament to their singing talents and star presence. The then-thirtysomething Ross raised some eyebrows playing the traditionally teenaged Dorothy, but she and her supporting cast (including Richard Pryor as the Wiz) carry the tunes with an infectious verve that will appeal to folks of all ages.

Academy Awards

The Wiz received Academy Awards nominations for Art Direction/Set Decoration (Tony Walton - Art Direction, Philip Rosenberg - Art Direction, Edward Stewart - Set Decoration, Robert Drumheller - Set Decoration), Cinematography (Oswald Morris), Costume Design (Tony Walton), and Music Scoring Awards (Best Adaptation Score; Quincy Jones - Music Adaptation).

Share Your Memories!

Is The Wiz one of your favorite movies? What do you remember about it? Share your stories (or your reviews) with the world! (We print the best stories right here!)

Your Memories Shared!

"I absolutely LOVE this movie. It brings back so memories whenever I watch it. I was only 9 when it first came out & it really had a tremendous effect on my spirit even then. It is an entirely different take on the original Wizard of Oz, especially since it was filmed in New York and has an all-black cast. The characters were lively (Diana Ross, Ted Ross, Nipsey Russell, Michael Jackson, Richard Pryor, Mable King, Lena Horne...)and the songs were and still are extremely inspirational. Songs like "Everybody Rejoice: Can You Feel a Brand New Day", "Home", and "If You Believe" are truly moving and heartfelt. The only down side of The Wiz in my opinion is the film quality. It is very dark in terms of lighting. Otherwise, this is a real classic. I recommend it for people of all ages."


"I enjoyed seeing the motion pictures The Wiz. I remember when the wiz was released I was in the fifth grade. I did not know anything about the wiz, however my older sister was fortunate to see the broadway production of the wiz starring Stephine Mills. She explained to me in detail what happened and as a little kid I took it all in.I love the wiz motion picture as a matter of fact I recently purchased the DVD. Now that I am an adult I still watch the movie.My husband walks into the living room and say "Are you watching that again"! I am a teacher at Norland Elementary School in Miami and the dance & drama teacher here also, and our club is preparing to put on the production of the wiz this will be our second year doing this production so wish us luck. To sum everything up I just want to say again that I love the movie the wiz and I hope that there can be some kind of follow up because the movies that are being made these days don't make any since. Who ever had a hand in this wonderful movie (Ounicy Jones and others) Hats off to you Bravo& Encore."

--Shelia Beasley

"The Wiz is better than THE WIZARD OF OZ and more realistic. It is the best move. It has great songs, great actors, great scenery, and it is just the best move ever"


"Just a note on Shannon Gee's comments above: That "Lavish sequence [amid] the World Trade Center Towers" was actually shot on location in Los Angeles. Century City's ABC Entertainment Center Towers adjacent from the Century Plaza Hotel served as the backdrop for The Wiz's equivalent of Emerald City. We know this because, unlike the four-sided geometry of the WTC towers, Century City's twin towers are the only twin triangular towers in the U.S."


"I loooove The Wiz. I first saw this film when it first came out in 1978 when I was only seven years old. Up to this time I was accustomed to seeing The Wizard of Oz on TV every year and I assumed Diana Ross was going to wear a plaid pinafore and pigtails the way Judy Garland did. Once I saw the poster for it, I knew I was wrong. WOW!

Thanks to my mom, who worked in lower Manhattan at the time, I found out that a portion of the movie was filmed at the World Trade Center, which was about 20 minutes from Jersey City, where we lived at. She saw them filming the movie on the plaza and saw all the cameras and everything. Hence, I was eager to see the movie when it came out a year later. Moreover, "The Wiz" made me want to visit the World Trade Center. I was in awe of the outdoor plaza that was used in the Emerald City scene, wondering how the filmmakers transformed it.

When I got older, I took the PATH train from Jersey City to lower Manhattan whenever I got a chance just to sit on the outdoor plaza of the WTC to try to imagine what it must have been like to film the Emerald City sequence here. Unfortunately, I am unable to see where this sequence was filmed at now due to the destruction of the twin towers on 9-11. Nevertheless, its memory lives on in the film. As a matter of fact, the movie is selling like hot cakes on Ebay. Everytime I visit Ebay and put in "The Wiz," so many people are bidding on it it's incredible! I think it's in part to the movie's World Trade Center connection.

Most people don't know this, but the sequence filmed at the trade center was the most expensive sequence ever filmed there. Because the movie got so many negative reviews, most books and news pieces I have read after 9-11 don't mention that "The Wiz" was filmed there; they always mention "King Kong" and other lesser known movies, but not "The Wiz." If I have anything to say about it, they will mention "The Wiz" someday.

"The Wiz" made me fascinated with architecture like tall buildings and bridges, like the fact that the Brooklyn Bridge and Whitestone Bridge were utilized in the film.

I don't know how many copies of the soundtrack my mother got me or I have gotten on my own. I love this movie. The music, the acting, the sets, the dancing, it is so first rate! Even when I got it on video, I still had to see it when it came on TV. Before VCRs were out, I even recorded it off of television with my tape recorder! I still got the tape. This proves what a Wizmaniac I am!

I have gotten numerous books, photo stills and other memorabilia associated with "The Wiz" from New York and other places!

In case anyone didn't know, Mabel King and Ted Ross both passed away. Ironically, they both played the roles of Evillene and the Lion on Broadway. Their performances have been immortalized on film forever.

Since I was shy and withdrawn like Dorothy in "The Wiz," I could relate to the fact that she had to take a step on her own and believe in herself. This film is more about seeing The Wiz and getting things, it's about believing in yourself. That's the theme of this whole movie and it came out effectively. Everyone did a splendid job on this film. I give it a four and a half stars!! * * * * 1/2"


"I am 17 years old and I live with my mother stap-father and younger sister. Even though it is an old movie it hasn't lost it's touch. me and my younger sister love it, but we haven't watched it in a awile hopefully we will get to see it one last time. For old time sakes."




Buy this VHS movie from! (Click here!)Buy this DVD from! (Click here!)Buy this soundtrack from! (Click here!)Rated GNot on an American Film Institute 100 list

Director: Sidney Lumet

Stars: Diana Ross, Michael Jackson, Nipsey Russell, Richard Pryor, Lena Horne

Released: October 24, 1978

Availability: DVD VHS CD

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