The Muppets' Wizard of Oz is a 2005 American-Canadian fantasy television film directed by Kirk Thatcher and starring Ashanti and The Muppets with supporting roles done by Jeffrey Tambor, Quentin Tarantino, David Alan Grier, and Queen Latifah. The film was produced by Bill Barretta and written by Debra Frank, Steve L. Hayes, Tom Martin, and Adam F. Goldberg based on a story by Frank and Hayes.
A modernized adaptation of L. Frank Baum's The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, the story follows young Dorothy Gale, who works in her Aunt Em's diner, but dreams of becoming a singer somewhere beyond her small Kansas town. Swept up by a tornado, in her trailer home with pet prawn Toto, she lands in Oz and embarks on a journey to meet the Wizard who can help make her dreams come true.
The film was co-produced by The Muppets Studio, Touchstone Television, and Fox Television Studios, in association with The Jim Henson Company. Right after Disney bought the rights to The Muppets in 2004, pre-production on The Muppets' Wizard of Oz took place throughout February 2004, and filming occurred during September 2004. ABC made several changes to the film after the initial script was written, ultimately deciding to adapt plot elements from Baum's original novel rather than the 1939 Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer musical film, The Wizard of Oz. As with the preceding Muppet films, The Muppets' Wizard of Oz became a musical, and included five new songs written and composed by Michael Giacchino. The special is the first Muppets special without the involvement of veteran performer Jerry Nelson following his 2004 retirement from physical performing. His characters of Lew Zealand and Floyd Pepper, were respectively performed by Bill Barretta and John Kennedy. Barretta also debuts as the new permanent performer of Dr. Teeth due to Kennedy now performing Floyd. The production also marked the feature film debut of Eric Jacobson as the performer of Sam Eagle, a character originally performed by Frank Oz.
The Muppets' Wizard of Oz premiered on April 27, 2005 at the Tribeca Film Festival. The film's television premiere was broadcast on ABC on May 20, 2005, as the final ABC Movie of the Week. The film received generally mixed to negative reviews from critics, who felt that the film was too mature for young audiences and that the cameo scenes and popular culture references were unnecessary.
- Ashanti as Dorothy Gale