By Gale Courey Toensing
Well, I don’t know that there’s been bad publicity with regard to the Hollywood machine. The Hollywood machine would have you believe that this is a fantastic movie and what’s all the negativity about? That’s the unfortunate part--they don’t have a clue. They didn’t have a clue at the beginning in my talks with Disney...
You talked to them at the beginning?
...I had teleconferences with them when we discussed some of these things. I told them I thought it would go south. I expressed at the time what my feelings were and the fact that having Johnny Depp play Tonto was due for a total crash. And they said, "No, we don’t think so. We have our ducks in a row and we think that Johnny Depp is going to do great.” And I said, "Well, ok! Next point. Why don’t you try and involve the American Indian community if you’re going to shove this down their throat? I would advise that you at least try to get them on your side before you invest in trying to convince them that Johnny Depp is Indian,” and so on. And they said, “No, we have that pretty much in hand also. Johnny Depp is part Indian and we’re going to roll with that” and I said, “Well, you know, the Cherokee Nation, one of the tribes he claims to be from, has vetted his ancestry and none of them are located on their rolls.” And they said, “Well, he thinks he is and so we’re going to roll with that.” I said, “Ok! Good luck!” Those conversations were with a Disney vice president and also a lady by the name of Dawn Jackson, an American Indian who works for Disney in the merchandising department. She’s the go to Indian at Disney when they have a question, like about Pocahontas.
So, they didn’t hear you?
We’re not gloating, but we are doing an I-told-you-so, kind of thing. The problem is that we’ve (American Indians) come this far and we’re still seeing this kind of approach. We had Johnny Depp saying, “I’m going to honor you” and then we end up being dishonored again. The only thing that I can take satisfaction in is that they’re not going to make any money out it. In my experience and in my professional view the $325 million spent on it might make somewhere in the vicinity of copy25 million. So among the powers that be who forwarded this movie, heads should roll at Disney because in my best estimation they’re going to lose close to $200 million on this film.