Saturday, January 14, 2012

Hollywood Racism and WhiteWashing: Johnny Depp playing "Tonto" a Native American in remake of "The Lone Ranger"

 Racist Hollywood continuing their white washing of non-white characters


Jerry Bruckheimer, Walt Disney Studios and Johnny Depp may just supply the proverbial silver bullet for the flagging New Mexico film industry.

On Friday, the Governor's Office announced that Disney/Bruckheimer's film version of The Lone Ranger will indeed shoot in and around Albuquerque, Santa Fe, Shiprock and other locales in the state starting in February.

Gore Verbinski of Pirates of the Caribbean fame will direct Depp as Tonto and Armie Hammer as the Lone Ranger.

"It's great news," said Nick Maniatis, director of The New Mexico Film Office. "This is a large-budget, major film that is putting faith into the idea of coming back to the state of New Mexico to make movies.

"I think a major production like this coming here shows signs that we are looking pretty healthy for film and TV production in the state."

He said the production will probably utilize Albuquerque Studios. He did not think it would be shooting at the newly built Santa Fe Studios.

The producers reportedly cut the original budget of some $250 million down to the $215 million range to get the go-ahead to film this new version of the fabled story of a mysterious masked man who rode the West, righting wrongs with his faithful Native American pal, Tonto.

Online blogs and entertainment venue reports have indicated that the venerable Western hero and his partner would face off against American Indian shamans and werewolves in this new version.

One such blog, citing Hollywood-Elsewhere as a source, noted that the script is laden with special effects and described it as a kind of an "Indian-spirituality werewolf movie — a.k.a., The Lone Ranger Meets the Wolfman."

Which makes sense, given The Lone Ranger only uses silver bullets in his guns, rides a horse called Silver and makes Silver wear silver horseshoes. (Werewolves shy away from silver stuff.)

In a very early episode of the old Lone Ranger television series, the Lone Ranger asks a miner pal of his to melt down silver ore into bullets. "Silver bullets will serve as sort of a symbol," the Lone Ranger explains. "Tonto suggested the idea ... a symbol that means justice by law."

Created by George W. Trendle and written by Fran Striker, The Lone Ranger originated as a radio show in 1933. In 1949, ABC turned it into a long-running television series starring Clayton Moore as the title character and Canadian Mohawk actor Jay Silverheels as Tonto.

The 1981 film The Legend of the Lone Ranger — a notable critical and commercial failure — also utilized New Mexico locales.

The new version was canceled and restarted over the past year while the issues of budget and locale were reworked.

Last autumn, Bruckheimer told The Hollywood Reporter that in trimming his budget he had to consider the film incentives that various states offered.

"We found that Louisiana gave us a better tax incentive than New Mexico — that was another $8 million," he said. "We're still shooting in New Mexico, and we might go to Louisiana."

Last year Gov. Susana Martinez urged state lawmakers to revamp the state's film-incentive program, putting a $50 million cap on what the state will pay out in one year to qualifying productions.

Though the $200 million production The Avengers shot in New Mexico last year, the state attracted few other big-budget films in 2011.

Two longtime television series anchored in Albuquerque, Breaking Bad and In Plain Sight, are slated to stop shooting this spring after completing their final seasons.

The state played host to several television pilot shoots in 2011, including A&E's Longmire, starring Australian actor Robert Taylor, Lou Diamond Phillips and Katee Sackhoff. A&E has announced that it has picked up Longmire as a series, though it has not yet announced where it will film.

Maniatis said he couldn't yet confirm any possible upcoming film or television projects, but noted, "I hope to announce a TV show shortly, a project that's been here already, and we are excited it is coming back."

He said he's a fan of the old Lone Ranger television show. "Now I have a couple of boys and they will get to see the film shot in our state. The fact that it will be shot in and around New Mexico will be great for us. The production will hire over 300 New Mexico crew members, about 30 actors and 1,200 extras. It will have a big impact on the state."

Asked whether he knew anything about the werewolf angle, Maniatis laughed and said no.

Because it's important to remember that the Lone Ranger never shot to kill, preferring to wound his adversaries and bring them to court instead. How this humanitarian approach would work with werewolves, should they remain in the new script, remains unclear.

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