Universal, Imagine roll dice on 'Ron'
Justin Theroux to direct casino comedy
The Jordan Roberts-scripted comedy concerns a conman who claims Mohegan ancestry in an attempt to open a casino.
Brian Grazer is producing.
The comedy's inspiration is the true story of Chief Ron Roberts. His blonde hair and blue eyes raised skepticism over his ancestral claims but he prevailed in court and is now building a casino in upstate New York.
Comedy about an unlikely casino owner
Vaguely based on the true-life story of Chief Ron Roberts, a blond-haired, blue-eyed American who claimed Native American ancestry in a successful attempt to open a casino in upstate New York (gaming laws in the US are relaxed for several Native American tribes), Chief Ron will focus on a conman who claims Mohegan ancestry in an attempt to do the same.
First things first: let’s point out that the real Chief Ron isn’t a conman, and won his battle in court. Secondly: this has decent potential. It’ll be interesting to see what Theroux can do with it.
As a couple of sites noted, that's the exact opposite of the truth:
Universal Pictures Selects Director For Mohegan Movie
How exactly will Chief Ron change the court's verdict from "guilty" to "not guilty"? That will require more than a little fact-fudging. To make "Chief Ron" a real Indian, the movie will have to change his past, the case he presented in court, the evidence against him--i.e., everything.
Chief Ron will tell a Hitler-style Big Lie about Indian gaming. It will reinforce one of the ugliest myths about the subject: that anyone can claim to be an Indian and open a casino. For Indians, it may be the worst public-relations nightmare since Time magazine's false and misleading "expose."
Here's the problem. Anti-Indian ideologues have called Indian gaming a fraud over and over. They've claimed the US government is recognizing phony "tribes" in a feel-good effort to salve America's conscience. That isn't true, but many people believe it is.
Showing this white (con)man winning his case will cause incalculable harm to tribes that are seeking or have achieved federal recognition. People will lump them with all the Indian wannabes and New Age frauds trying to scam the public. Meanwhile, legions of hucksters will crawl out of the woodwork and claim their "sovereign rights." Indians and wannabes will become even more interchangeable in people's eyes.
For more on the subject, see The Best Indian Movies.
Below: Mohegan Sun, the Connecticut casino owned by the real Mohegan tribe.