Disney promotes Lone Ranger to world press

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By Jay Miller

Let’s take a look at what has been happening during this busy summer.
Last week, Santa Fe was the location for a massive promotion of the upcoming Lone Ranger and Tonto movie. More than 300 broadcast journalists and film critics were flown to New Mexico from all over the world for five days of activities, including previews of the movie, which will open on July 3.
The press launch for the Lone Ranger was notable because New Mexico never had seen anything like it before. Most such events are put on in either Los Angeles or New York City.
One reason for the choice of Santa Fe may be that much of the movie was filmed in New Mexico, but perhaps the main reason was that Johnny Depp, who plays Tonto, is currently in New Mexico shooting another movie. Depp is integral to this movie because the script made Tonto not just a sidekick, but a main character.
From the beginning, Depp was committed to making sure that happened by digging as fully as possible into what it means to be an Indian. By the time he finished, the Comanche made him an honorary member. Why didn’t Disney Studios cast an Indian for the part? Maybe they wanted Depp’s big name and drawing power.
The reason so many questions were not answered is that great secrecy surrounded the entire event. No one was allowed into the sessions, but the 315 invitees. The local press was shut out. All questions were referred to the Disney people, who were everywhere, but weren’t talking.
Evidently this is common. Disney paid a fortune to get these people here and they wanted to be sure they controlled the message for this $200 million production. The hoteliers around town also were tight-lipped.
This is standard practice probably everywhere. Staff can be fired even for answering a question about hotel guests.
A recent survey published in the Albuquerque Journal asked who was New Mexico’s best athlete.
The perhaps surprising answer was five-time champion boxer Johnny Tapia, who died unexpectedly last year. Tapia was a great athlete, but also had many run-ins with drugs.
The drug problems perhaps detracted from his many public-spirited deeds. But not with his fans. Tapia won the poll going away.
A recent effort to name the Barelas Community Center, in Albuquerque’s South Valley, after Tapia ran into problems because Tapia’s drug use would not be a positive influence with youth.
The compromise was to name the gymnasium after him.
Coming in second in the poll was football star Tommy McDonald. Since he played back in my day, he may not be very familiar so I’ll catch some of you up on him.
McDonald grew up in Roy. He was a standout playing his freshman year at Roy. Over the summer, the family moved to Albuquerque where Tommy played football for Highland High School. Since Highland was a perennial champion back in the 1950s, there always were stories about how the family happened to move.
McDonald was recruited by the University of Oklahoma, another powerhouse. Oklahoma never lost a game during the years McDonald played football for legendary coach Bud Wilkinson.
The Philadelphia Eagles of the National Football League drafted McDonald and switched him from a half back to an end. Yes, I know those weren’t the correct names for those positions now, but remember, those were the days of the T-formation in the 1950s.
McDonald excelled at going over the middle to catch a ball. Many receivers are seriously injured catching the ball in heavy traffic, but McDonald’s short, muscular body could take the punishment.
Besides, McDonald was fearless. With the exception of kickers, he was the last NFL athlete to play without a facemask. He was inducted into the NFL Hall of Fame several years ago.
Coming in third in the poll was Lovington’s Brian Urlacher, who recently retired from the Chicago Bears. Urlacher played college ball at the University of New Mexico.