Creative mind Kenya Barris is about to add yet another feather to his cap. The “black-ish” co-creator announced that he has been picked to write and direct a new adaptation of the classic film “The Wizard of Oz” for Warner Bros.
The beloved cinematic feature debuted in 1939, and starred Judy Garland in the lead role of Dorothy. It was inspired by the children’s book “The Wonderful Wizard of Oz.” Thirty-nine years later, the film was adapted by Universal Pictures and Motown Productions to feature an all-Black cast in “The Wiz.” The musical starred Diana Ross as Dorothy, Michael Jackson as the scarecrow, Nipsey Russell as the Tin Man, Ted Ross as the cowardly lion and Richard Pryor as the Wiz. Mabel King and Lena Horne rounded out the cast, respectively portraying the wicked and good witches of the West and South. Compared to its more whimsical predecessor, the film was brightly colored, full of lively and upbeat performances.
Details of how Barris will reimagine the film are under tight wraps. In an Instagram post, he shared his exciting news by writing in part, “I have NO WORDS…other than it’s f—in’ GO TIME!!” The post was met with congratulatory messages from industry peers and supporters.
A selection of comments included:
“AMAZING. I had no idea soo much was happening! You’re an inspiration for real!!!”
“So proud of you dawg.”
“You keep winning. Congrats.”
Other fans have already offered up casting suggestions, such as Chloe Bailey as Evillene the Wicked Witch of the West, her sister Halle Bailey as Glenda the Good Witch of the South, and Chris Brown as the naive scarecrow.
But elsewhere online, scores of people are on the fence about the latest reimagining of the film. “scared to see what kenya barris’ modernized wizard of oz means? is emerald city new york now? will there be ruby jordans? will the tin man be the tesla man? is it too obvious that he’s casting yara as dorothy? oh god,” tweeted one person.
“What reimagining? The wiz is right there but also pls don’t touch it,” tweeted another.
“The last time Kenya Barris touched a beloved property (SHAFT, which he wrote) I ended up giving that movie a 0 star rating. I ain’t giving a ‘modern re-imagining’ of the Wizard of Oz the benefit of the doubt. Like we already got perfect reiterations with Black Dorothys, we good.
Barris’ directorial debut, “You People,” is currently in post-production. The film features some of Black Hollywood’s favorite faces, including Nia Long, Eddie Murphy and Lauren London.