DEPP STILL TALKIN’ TONTO
Johnny Depp, soon to be seen – actually heard -- in the animated pseudo-western Rango, is talking again about Jerry Bruckheimer’s many-years-in-the-planning remake of The Lone Ranger, in which Depp will play Tonto. The Disney film is planned for a 2012 release, and it’s coming from the same team that brought you the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise: director Gore Verbinski, and writers Ted Elliot and Terry Rossio.
Depp told Entertainment Weekly, “I think it’s going to be good, when we have a chance to put it up on its feet. What we’ve got so far screenplay-wise is really great, really funny.” Depp, who is part Cherokee, adds, “I always felt Native Americans were badly portrayed in Hollywood films over the decades. It’s a real opportunity for me to give a salute to them. Tonto was a sidekick in all the Lone Ranger series. [This film] is a very different approach to that partnership. And a funny one I think.”
Says producer Bruckheimer (from an earlier interview) about the screenplay, “They’re creating something that has a true-to-the-western feel, but adding other additional elements like we did in Pirates so it won’t be just a straight-ahead western.” Hopefully the recent Green Hornet debacle (not to mention Jonah Hex) will deter them going too far afield from the beloved Fran Striker stories. Incidentally, few moviegoers of today are aware that Striker created both The Green Hornet and The Lone Ranger, and that the Hornet character, Britt Reid, is the great nephew of John Reid, the Lone Ranger. If you’d like to read an in-depth chronology of the masked Reid family – and who wouldn’t – go here: http://www.pjfarmer.com/woldnewton/Reid.htm
Incidentally, no definitive word yet on who will play Tonto’s faithful masked companion.
(Photos top to bottom: artist rendering of Johnny Depp as Tonto, George Clooney as Lone Ranger; title card from Wanted:Dead or Alive; Trigger and Bullet pose with kids; posters from the movies whose names are on them; two more Indian Chiefs from the Allen & Ginter cigarette insert card series)
MEMORIES OF MCQUEEN: DEAD OR ALIVE
The excellent Steve McQueen western series Wanted: Dead or Alive is available on home video – I got seasons one and two in a package at Target for under twenty dollars -- and if you shop around you can get a set with the final season as well. If you’d like to know what making the series, and working with McQueen, was like, click HERE http://www.caucus.org/archives/10win_cowboy.html to read Cowboy by Norman S. Powell, from the Caucus Journal. Powell started as 2nd Assistant Director on Wanted, and graduated to production manager and eventually producer, working on, among many others, The Westerner, The Big Valley, several Gunsmoke TV movies, and was recently Emmy-nominated for producing ‘24’.
PIONEERS OF TELEVISON FOLLOW-UP
If you haven’t had a chance to catch the Western segment of Pioneers of Television on PBS, check your listings, because it’ll probably be shown again, and it’s well-worth catching. Focusing on just a few series rather than trying to tell the whole story of TV Westerns in one hour, you’ll learn a lot about Gunsmoke, Bonanza, The Big Valley and Daniel Boone from an impressive array of actor interviews. Either they’ve been working on this project for a long time, or they have many sources for their interviews, because several of their subjects – Robert Culp, Fess Parker – have passed away, and a few, like Buddy Ebsen, have been gone quite some time. A PBS website HERE http://www.pbs.org/opb/pioneersoftelevision/pioneering-programs/westerns/ has several interview clips, and to my surprise, most or all of them are outtakes from the show. So if you want to hear William Shatner tell how Timothy Carey tried to strangle him on camera in Gunsmoke, you’ll have to go there. Incidentally, I’ve also watched the sci-fi episode of this series, and it was equally entertaining. The upcoming episodes, a new one every Tuesday, will examine crime stories, kiddie tv, late night shows, sitcoms, variety shows and game shows.
TRIGGER AND BULLET AT THE CATTLE INDUSTRY ANNUAL CONVENTION IN DENVER
If you’re going to be in Denver from February 2nd to the 5th, stop at the RFD-TV booth and have your picture taken with Trigger and Bullet! And on the 2nd through the 4th, Dusty Rogers and the High Riders will be performing at 5:30 p.m. and 8:30 p.m.
IN NEW YORK
THE FILM FORUM – FRITZ LANG IN HOLLYWOOD
On Wednesday, February 2nd, as part of their Fritz Lang In Hollywood series, the Film Forum will present a double bill of The Return of Frank James (1940), with Henry Fonda as Frank, John Carradine as dirty little coward Bob Ford, and Gene Tierney; and Western Union (1941) from the Zane Grey tale, starring Robert Young, Randolph Scott and John Carradine – both with brand spankin’ new 35 MM prints!
On Sunday and Monday, February 6th and 7th, they’ll present Clash By Night (1952), starring Barbara Stanwyck, Robert Ryan and Marilyn Monroe, and Rancho Notorious (1952), starring Marlene Detreich, Arthur Kennedy and Mel Ferrer.
IN LOS ANGELES
GENE AUTRY DOUBLE FEATURE SATURDAY FEB. 5TH AT THE AUTRY
Starting at noon, the Autry will screen Shooting High (1940), costarring Jane Withers, Jack Carson and Charles “Ming The Merciless” Middleton; and Sioux City Sue (1946), costarring Sterling “Winnie the Pooh” Holloway. It’s scheduled to be screened in the tiny Imagination Gallery’s Western Legacy Theater, but last time they had such a big turnout that they had to move it to the Wells Fargo Theatre. And on Saturday February 12th they’ll be showing The Searchers – and the Magnificent Seven is coming in April!
AND ON THE TUBE
On Saturday, February 5th , RFD-TV will show Roy Rogers in UNDER CALIFORNIA STARS (1948), with direction by action whiz William Whitney and script by the excellent Sloan Nibley. The plot involves the theft of Trigger (!), and costars Jane Frazee, young Michael Chapin, not-so-young Andy Devine, and the singers by which all other western groups are measured, Bob Nolan and the Sons Of The Pioneers.
WESTERN EVENTS ON THE HORIZON
FEB. 18TH-21ST – WHISKEY FLAT DAYS IN KERNVILLE
Events include a parade, rodeo, frog-jumping contest, food, music and melodramas. For more info, call 760-376-2629, or visit kernvillechamber.org.
FEB. 19TH-20TH – CIVIL WAR WEEKEND AT CALICO GHOST TOWN
Events include Civil War reenactments, authentic encampments, drills, music, living history displays, period fashion shows, and a reading of Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address. To learn more, call 800-86-CALICO (862-2542) or visit calicotown.com.
THE AUTRY NATIONAL CENTER
Built by cowboy actor, singer, baseball and TV entrepeneur Gene Autry, and designed by the Disney Imagineering team, the Autry is a world-class museum housing a fascinating collection of items related to the fact, fiction, film, history and art of the American West. In addition to their permenant galleries (to which new items are frequently added), they have temporary shows. The Autry has many special programs every week -- sometimes several in a day. To check their daily calendar, CLICK HERE. And they always have gold panning for kids every weekend. For directions, hours, admission prices, and all other information, CLICK HERE.
HOLLYWOOD HERITAGE MUSEUM
Across the street from the Hollywood Bowl, this building, once the headquarters of Lasky-Famous Players (later Paramount Pictures) was the original DeMille Barn, where Cecil B. DeMille made the first Hollywood western, The Squaw Man. They have a permanent display of movie props, documents and other items related to early, especially silent, film production. They also have occasional special programs. 2100 Highland Ave., L.A. CA 323-874-2276. Thursday – Sunday 12 p.m. to 4 p.m. $5 for adults, $3 for senior, $1 for children.
WELLS FARGO HISTORY MUSEUM
This small but entertaining museum gives a detailed history of Wells Fargo when the name suggested stage-coaches rather than ATMS. There’s a historically accurate reproduction of an agent’s office, an original Concord Coach, and other historical displays. Open Monday through Friday, from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 a.m. Admission is free. 213-253-7166. 333 S. Grand Street, L.A. CA.
FREE WESTERNS ON YOUR COMPUTER AT HULU
A staggering number of western TV episodes and movies are available, entirely free, for viewing on your computer at HULU. You do have to sit through the commercials, but that seems like a small price to pay. The series available -- often several entire seasons to choose from -- include THE RIFLEMAN, THE CISCO KID, THE LONE RANGER, BAT MASTERSON, THE BIG VALLEY, ALIAS SMITH AND JONES, and one I missed from 2003 called PEACEMAKERS starring Tom Berenger. Because they are linked up with the TV LAND website, you can also see BONANZA and GUNSMOKE episodes, but only the ones that are running on the network that week.
The features include a dozen Zane Grey adaptations, and many or most of the others are public domain features. To visit HULU on their western page, CLICK HERE.
TV LAND - BONANZA and GUNSMOKE
Every weekday, TV LAND airs a three-hour block of BONANZA episodes from 11:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. They run a GUNSMOKE Monday through Thursday at 10:00 a.m., and on Friday they show two, from 6:00 to 8:00 a.m.. They're not currently running either series on weekends, but that could change at any time.
NEED YOUR BLACK & WHITE TV FIX?
Check out your cable system for WHT, which stands for World Harvest Television. It's a religious network that runs a lot of good western programming. Your times may vary, depending on where you live, but weekdays in Los Angeles they run DANIEL BOONE at 1:00 p.m., and two episodes of THE RIFLEMAN from 2:00 to 3:00 p.m.. On Saturdays at 2:00 p.m. it's THE RIFLEMAN again, followed at 2:30 by BAT MASTERSON. And unlike many stations in the re-run business, they run the shows in the original airing order. There's an afternoon movie on weekdays at noon, often a western, and they show western films on the weekend, but the schedule is sporadic.
It's almost eleven Monday night, and I've still got to outline about a dozen episodes for the first season of my proposed series, so I'd better get at it -- I'll post some pictures to go along with the above on Tuesday.
Have a great week!
All Contents Copyright January 31st, 2011 by Henry C. Parke -- All Rights Reserved