HBO is showing The Wiz in pretty heavy rotation, and they put it on the On-Demand Channel. I found myself drawn to the movie today as an adult in a different way from how I was drawn to it as a kid, when it was in regular rotation on Channel 11 – this is a Sidney Lumet film. It’s a black musical version of The Wizard of Oz from the guy who did Serpico, Dog Day Afternoon and Network. Imagine if the internet had existed when Lumet had signed on to this one.
Anyway, it turns out that The Wiz is absolutely terrible and almost all the songs are forgettable. One thing that really got me excited, though was a moment when Dorothy first comes to Oz (in a modern remake it would certainly be called The O.Z.) and recites her New York address: 433 Prospect Place. That’s a Brooklyn address, I realized, and more than that, it’s a street that was close to where I lived for seven years. So I Google Mapped it, and sure enough, Dorothy lived three blocks away from me.
What’s funny is that in 1978, 433 Prospect Place was in Crown Heights, and a very, very black area. In 2008, 433 Prospect Place has magically turned into Prospect Heights, and I wouldn’t be the least bit surprised to find out that a bunch of hipster white kids live in the building. Knowing the neighborhood, Auntie Em is likely still there today.