Not in Kansas Anymore

The Manhattan debuts of an Oz so nice, James Franco screened it twice


James Franco   
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Hello, Yellow Brick Road: Oz the Great and Powerful arrived in New York last night in what you might call a tornado of publicity, with star James Franco making the rounds at two separate screenings of Disney's forthcoming Wizard of Oz prequel.

HSN organized a downtown showing, which doubled as an unveiling of a collection "created in the spirit of the movie," as the network's Web site puts it. HSN and designer partners conjured up some four hundred pieces total; Petra Nemcova arrived in one of them, a shimmery black mini by Naeem Khan. "This one is inspired by which witch?" she asked a handler.

Meanwhile, Gucci and The Cinema Society hosted a bigger to-do at midtown's DGA Theater that drew the likes of Padma Lakshmi and Cynthia Rowley, the latter with her kids in tow. Dick Cavett came in, feigning confusion: "Is Judy Garland in this version?" As it happened, John Varvatos had just re-watched the 1939 original, with his 4-year-old daughter, a few days ago. "It's her favorite movie already—of her life, she tells me," he reported. "She'll definitely want to see this one, are you kidding me? As long as it's not scary."

Actually, it sort of is. (Director Sam Raimi is the creator of the Evil Dead series, after all.) The enchanted land envisioned so many years ago by L. Frank Baum is inhabited by cute and nasty characters alike, and for much of the film, it's unclear which side Franco's slippery but charming circus magician will end up on. As the actor himself put it before the screening, "Instead of Dorothy, the innocent girl, as the emissary to Oz, you have a con man."

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