Today let’s further address remakes because a) they’re often a terrible mistakes b) they’re frequently controversial — and I like to stir the pot, and c) I’m getting to the age where remakes and reboots are now made from things I loved as a kid. Oh, and d) more than one of the headline-grabbing remakes of late involve Johnny Depp (like 21 Jump Street and the one we’ll talk about today).
Before we get to that I feel the need to breathe a sigh of relief because it looks like finally – finally – Paula Abdul will have something to do. And it’s courtesy of one Simon Cowell. (Who knew??) She’s going to be on his next show which is really an old show and it’s called The X Factor which is soooo much better a moniker than American Idol, and even though I can’t abide his collarless, smug ways he’s undeniably smart about many things. Like who to hire. Paula Abdul once lived in my apartment building in LA. This was long before Idol and she was perky and couldn’t have been lovelier. Always stopped to say hello and pat my dog. Plus I liked that video she did with the mouse about thirty-seven years ago. Speaking of decades, let’s get back to remakes because among other things they’re for people in their forties who had only regular TV as kids. Straight, network, non-cable, non-premium anything. Although in suburban Philadelphia we had three additional UHF channels – which is where I watched the animated version of The Lone Ranger – today’s topic.
Johnny Depp is making the big-screen Lone Ranger and he’s playing Tonto. Now, at the time he starred on 21 Jump Street you couldn’t just Google anyone so you’d go get a fanzine. Fortunately I had a dear friend who edited a teen mag and whose job it was to tell the magazine’s photo department to airbrush cigarettes and beer bottles out of young stars’ hands. What I learned back then was that Depp himself had Cherokee heritage. On playing this role of the original Great (Native) American Sidekick, Depp recently told Entertainment Weekly: “I started thinking about Tonto and what could be done in my own small way try to — ‘eliminate’ isn’t possible — but reinvent the relationship, to attempt to take some of the ugliness thrown on the Native Americans, not only in The Lone Ranger, but the way Indians were treated throughout history of cinema, and turn it on its head.” To which we say, bravo. Leave it to Depp to take something that’s historically beloved but maybe not totally cool or fair and update it. Does this mean that this’ll be one remake to which we can all look forward? Quite possibly. I rarely watched the original Lone Ranger series on TV but I did watch the cartoon version religiously and found it fascinating. In that version, The Lone Ranger wore a spotless sky-blue jumpsuit and a jaunty kerchief that didn’t move. Did you ever watch that series? It ran from 1966-1969 and if you ever caught it you know that it was anything but traditional – incorporating sci-fi elements and also borrowing stuff from one of its contemporaries, Wild Wild West, which was anything but traditional. So with this Depp-starring new version, let’s discuss the guy who gets to play the LR himself. Originally, the rumor in Hollywood was that Ryan Gosling would play the part, but he has since passed on it. Most speculation currently rests on The Social Network’s Armie Hammer, but for today’s purposes, let’s continue to speculate.
1) George Clooney
2) Jon Hamm
3) Armie Hammer
4) Timothy Olyphant