September 25, 2009

Gala marks 70th anniversary of ‘Oz’

Warner Bros. Entertainment has marked the 70th anniversary of the classic film The Wizard of Oz with a glitzy Emerald Gala in New York.

The event took place Thursday night at Manhattan's Tavern on the Green restaurant.

The entire eatery and surrounding grounds were transformed for a night into the Emerald City, complete with a winding Yellow Brick Road, fields of poppies and a special appearance by a 7 1/2-story Wizard of Oz hot-air balloon.

Among the guests were five of the original actors who played Munchkins characters in the movie, as well as star Judy Garland's daughter Lorna Luft, Grammy Award-winning singer/songwriter and actress Ashanti and Jennifer Oz LeRoy, chief executive officer and owner of Tavern on the Green and the granddaughter of The Wizard of Oz producer Mervyn LeRoy.

Ashanti performed Somewhere Over the Rainbow and The Way That I Love You, and Luft honored her mother's legacy with a special musical tribute with Rock-A-Bye Your Baby and a Wizard of Oz medley composed especially for the event.

The cast of The Wizard of Oz National Tour, with the actors who play Dorothy and Toto, Scarecrow, Tin Man and the Cowardly Lion, also were on hand to perform If I Only Had a Brain.

The gala heralded Warner Home Video's Blu-ray and DVD release of The Wizard of Oz 70th Anniversary Ultimate Collector's Editions, which are due out Tuesday.