(September 23, 2009 – Burbank, CA) – On the evening of September 24, five of the original actors who played Munchkins in “The Wizard of Oz” will make a rare appearance, their first ever in Manhattan; Lorna Luft will honor her mother’s legacy with a special musical tribute performing “Rock-A-Bye Your Baby” as well as a “Wizard of Oz” medley composed especially for the Gala; and Grammy Award winning singer/songwriter and actress Ashanti, who recently played Dorothy in City Center Encores! production of “The Wiz,” will sing “Somewhere Over the Rainbow.” All this will take place at Warner Bros. Entertainment’s highly anticipated Emerald Gala at Manhattan’s historic Tavern on the Green in celebration of the 70th anniversary of “The Wizard of Oz.” At sundown, the famed lights of the Empire State Building will glow emerald green in honor of the American film classic’s milestone. The exclusive event will also be highlighted by the auction of Warner Bros. Consumer Products’ Ruby Slipper Collection and Inspirations of Fine Art Collection, benefiting the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation (EGPAF), and the heralding of Warner Home Video’s September 29 Blu-ray and DVD release of “The Wizard of Oz 70th Anniversary Ultimate Collector’s Edition.” The Emerald Gala will launch the last season of extravaganzas under the LeRoy family’s ownership of the iconic restaurant, known and loved by patrons from New York and the world over since 1974. The entire restaurant and surrounding grounds will transform for a night into the Emerald City, replete with a winding “Yellow Brick Road,” fields of poppies, and a special appearance by the seven-and-a-half story stunningly decorated “Wizard of Oz” Hot Air Balloon. Multi-platinum recording sensation Ashanti will grace the stage to perform “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” and “The Way That I Love You” at the star-studded gala event, highlighted by the charitable auction of Warner Bros. Consumer Products’ Ruby Slipper Collection and select pieces from Inspirations of Fine Art Collection to benefit long time philanthropic partner, the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation (EGPAF). Joining the stage with Ashanti will be a full band and four talented musical prodigies from a local New York high school. The orchestra members, Joshua Epstein, Kathryn Mattner, Joanna Rose-Gross and Jenny Yiu, were hand picked from North Shore High School by Musical Director, Marvin Floyd. The Munchkins – Ruth Duccini (Villager), Jerry Maren (Lollipop Guild Member), Margaret Pellegrini (Flowerpot Hat Dancer), Meinhardt Raabe (Coroner and oldest living Munchkin, who proclaims “The Witch is Dead”); and Karl Slover (1st Trumpeter) -- have not appeared together publicly since their 2007 Walk of Fame honors and prior to that at a 2005 screening at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences in Beverly Hills, CA. In honor of the film’s anniversary, Ashanti has recorded “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” as a single, which will be released through all standard online outlets, beginning September 24. “It’s an honor to be a part of this great tribute to such an iconic American film classic,” said Ashanti. “To be able to sing ‘Somewhere Over the Rainbow’ is a way for me to pay homage to Judy Garland, a distinct pioneer of all time.” Noted Ms. Luft, “I am truly looking forward to performing at this historic event honoring one of the greatest movies ever made.” Also making a special appearance at the grand affair will be the cast of the highly celebrated The National Tour of “The Wizard of Oz,” with Dorothy and Toto, Scarecrow, Tin Man and the Cowardly Lion, all adding fun and excitement down the “Yellow Brick Road.” The cast will perform “If I Only Had a Brain” on the main stage in the Garden of Tavern on the Green. “We are pleased to have our cast take part in the Warner Bros.’ 70th Anniversary celebration of ‘The Wizard of Oz,’” said Seth Wenig, Executive Producer, “The Wizard of Oz” National Tour. “The movie is in its 70th year, and we will bring this beloved American classic to life on stage in more than 70 cities across the nation! Everywhere from Pittsburgh to Anchorage, we are thrilled to be a part of that!” Warner Home Video’s September 29 Blu-ray and DVD release of “The Wizard of Oz 70th Anniversary Ultimate Collector’s Edition” will mark an historic benchmark in the Blu-ray format as the studio continues to maximize what Blu-ray can do for picture and sound. With six times higher resolution than standard DVD along with unparalleled sonic excellence, the film will be at its absolute pristine best, packed with treasured collectibles and brand-new bonus content. Guests at The Emerald Gala and around the world have the opportunity to bid on Warner Bros. Consumer Products’ renowned Ruby Slipper Collection and select works from The Inspirations of Oz Fine Art Collection at rubyslipperauction.com, with proceeds benefiting EGPAF. The auction opened September 10, with final bids closing and tabulated on September 30. Visit www.thewizardofoz.com, the official site for all Oz-related events and products. Warner Bros. Consumer Products Warner Bros. Consumer Products, a Warner Bros. Entertainment Company, is one of the leading licensing and retail merchandising organizations in the world. Warner Home Video With operations in 90 international territories, Warner Home Video, a Warner Bros. Entertainment Company, commands the largest distribution infrastructure in the global video marketplace. Warner Home Video's film library is the largest of any studio, offering top quality new and vintage titles from the repertoires of Warner Bros. Pictures, Turner Entertainment, Castle Rock Entertainment, HBO Home Video and New Line Home Entertainment. “The Wizard of Oz” “The Wizard of Oz” is one of the most beloved and iconic motion pictures of all time filled with timeless sentiments and values cherished by multiple generations. Originally released in 1939, more than one billion consumers have experienced the classic story of Dorothy and friends in the Land of Oz. Empire State Building Soaring 1,454 feet above Midtown Manhattan, the Empire State Building is the “World’s Most Famous Office Building.” With new investments in infrastructure, public areas and amenities, the Empire State Building has attracted first-rate tenants in a diverse array of industries from around the world. The skyscraper’s robust broadcasting technology supports all major television and FM radio stations in the New York metropolitan market. The Empire State Building was named America’s favorite building in a poll conducted by the American Institute of Architects. The Empire State Building Observatory is one of the world’s most beloved attractions and is the region’s #1 tourist destination. For more information on the Empire State Building, please visit www.esbnyc.com. "The Wizard of Oz" National Tour The greatest family musical of all time, "The Wizard of Oz," is touching down in theaters across the country as NETworks Presentations brings this live touring production to over 70 cities, opening October 2009 in Chattanooga, Tenn. and twisting its way across North America to cities including Austin, Tex., Pittsburgh and Anchorage, Alaska! To see if the show the New York Times calls a “lavish stage production” with “colorful costumes, witty choreography, and cool lighting,” is coming to a city near you visit www.WizardofOzonTour.com. THE WIZARD OF OZ and all related characters and elements are trademarks of and © Turner Entertainment Co.
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