We're at the point when Johnny Depp's dumbest whims can lead to movies costing $200 million. I imagine Depp lying in a hammock on his private island and saying, "I've always wanted to play Barnabas Collins in Dark Shadows!" and it's done. Then he says, "I've always wanted to do The Lone Ranger — but as Tonto!" and it, too, gets the green light.
There's a backstory for just about everything in Gore Verbinski's The Lone Ranger, including what drives the title character (Armie Hammer) to don the mask — and what's up with that dead crow Tonto (Johnny Depp) wears on his head.
Credit Peter Mountain / Walt Disney Pictures
If Johnny Depp's in the film, can Helena Bonham Carter (and a bustier) be far behind? In this Ranger, she plays Red, the madam of a Texas brothel who offers aid and comfort to Tonto and his masked companion.
Johnny Depp says that with his portrayal of Tonto in The Lone Ranger, he tried to "right the wrongs of what had been done with regards to the representation of Native Americans in cinema."
Adorned with a dead black crow, headband and face paint, Depp said he knew his Tonto would need to go "against the grain of what had been done before, [he] knew it would require a very, very important iconic look."
Some critics aren't fans of Disney's Tonto and think that the character is a major setback for the Native American image.
Credit M.J. Alexander
Johnny Depp pauses on the red carpet before the Comanche Nation premiere of The Lone Ranger.
The Lone Ranger has long been a fictional hero, taming the Wild West with his trusty Indian guide, Tonto. The faithful companion helps the white man fight bad guys, and does so speaking in pidgin English.
Tonto made his first appearance on the radio in the 1930s, voiced by a non-Native American actor, John Todd. In the series, Western settlers face down what they call "redskins" and "savages." And trusty Tonto is always on hand to interpret the smoke signals.
From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Robert Siegel.
AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:
And I'm Audie Cornish. This month, we have a special focus on media for kids. And you can't talk about media for kids without talking about Disney. They have a huge new video game coming out later this summer, featuring familiar Disney characters, and they aren't being shy about the name. It's called "Disney Infinity."
Some of the magic at Disney was always that you could pick a theme park - any theme park - and the price for a day pass would be the same. Well, no more. This month for the first time, Disney began charging more for a day in Magic Kingdom in Orlando than for its other parks.
Matthew Peddie, from member station WMFE, explains why.
MATTHEW PEDDIE, BYLINE: A one-day pass to the Magic Kingdom now costs $95 - compared to $90 for entrance to its other parks: Epcot, Animal Kingdom or Hollywood Studios.
Valeria Pearson, left, and Jessica Perry took a couple of hours to pain their faces like sugar skulls for Dia de los Muertos. The celebration in Las Vegas takes place at the Winchester Cultural Center.
Fronteras: Disney reacts to public outcry by withdrawing its effort to trademark ‘Dia De Los Muertos.’ Also on the show: It is widely reported that the nation has 11 million people living here without authorization, we take a closer look at that number. Young people in the Mormon Church are called to serve a 2-year mission, but what happens if you're sent on a mission, and you have no immigration papers? The changing face of Native American health programs under the federal healthcare overhaul.
Oz the Great and Powerful. Say that name aloud and you will smile, I guarantee you: It will conjure up so many images, characters, actors, songs. Then hold that smile as long as you can, because you won't be doing much smiling at the movie called Oz the Great and Powerful, the so-called "prequel" to The Wizard of Oz from Disney Studios.
“Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs” may not have been the first animated film, but as author and film historian J.B. Kaufman points out, Walt Disney “completely redefined the concept of what an animated feature could be” with his 1937 film, celebrating 75 years this December.