Articles from December 2007

Announcing a new photo gallery for the Zone!

On this last day of 2007, it seemed appropriate to open the Zone’s newest photo gallery–“Pictures of the Week: 2007!” This gallery collects all of the beautiful photos we’ve offered as the Picture of the Week on the home page over the past year, so it mixes some great vintage shots with Johnny’s public appearances and movie promotion during 2007. It’s a nice way of re-living special moments . . . not just the obvious highlights like the AT WORLD’S END and SWEENEY TODD premieres and the Venice film festival, but that surge of joy we felt when we saw the Sheila Witkin concert pictures last January, or the relief of seeing that first photo of Johnny as Sweeney Todd when we knew that he was able to return to work after his daughter’s illness.

To see the new gallery, click on the PHOTO GALLERIES button above, select THE DEPPARTMENT, and scroll down to “Portraits with a Theme.” “Pictures of the Week: 2007” is the third gallery in that group.

Many thanks to sleepy, bonnie, AnaMaria, theresa, Carasun, Hiro3, and all our wonderful picture divas who share their photos so generously with the Zone. Many thanks, too, to Johnny Depp for giving us so many wonderful memories this year. We’re looking forward to 2008 . . . may it bring health and happiness, success, and the satisfaction of work well done to Johnny and to all of us. Happy New Year, everyone! –Part-Time Poet

Enjoy MOVIEFONE's "Unscripted" interview with Johnny Depp and Tim Burton!

AOL MOVIEFONE has a wonderful treat for anyone interested in the work of Johnny Depp and Tim Burton: an “Unscripted” interview, more than 11 minutes long, in which the artists take turns interviewing each other, asking questions submitted by Moviefone readers. The interview was done as part of the promotion for SWEENEY TODD: THE DEMON BARBER OF FLEET STREET, but it also sheds plenty of light on the Burton-Depp friendship, and their approach to making movies. Congratulations to Zoners Chenault and historicalpassion1, whose questions were chosen for Johnny to answer! Chenault asked whether Johnny had taken any souvenirs from the set of SWEENEY TODD, and historicalpassion1 asked if Johnny felt self-conscious about singing (you can find her question in the Bonus Clips section).

The “Unscripted” interview is available on the AOL Moviefone site here: Unfortunately, it is not available for viewing in all countries; we apologize if the clip will not play for you. Emma has kindly posted a transcript of the “Unscripted” interview on the Zone’s Porch forum, so you can read the questions and answers there–thanks, Emma! At the present time, the interview is also available on YouTube in two parts, here: and here: Many thanks to namaste for posting the news, and to Elizabeth for the YouTube links. –Part-Time Poet

PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN: AT WORLD'S END tops the world-wide box office for 2007

Captain Jack Sparrow and his pirate cohorts ruled the worldwide box office in 2007, with PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN: AT WORLD’S END topping its closest competitor, HARRY POTTER AND THE ORDER OF THE PHOENIX, by more than $20 million. Despite early crowing by SPIDER-MAN 3, the final tally for the year shows Spidey’s worldwide box office receipts trailing PIRATES by $70 million! Congratulations to Jerry Bruckheimer, Gore Verbinski, Johnny Depp, and all the talented cast and technical wizards on their amazing accomplishment. Here are the final box office figures for the top ten films of 2007:

(1) PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN: AT WORLD’S END, $961 million; (2) HARRY POTTER AND THE ORDER OF THE PHOENIX, $938.5 million; (3) SPIDER-MAN 3, $891 million; (4) SHREK THE THIRD, $796 million; (5) TRANSFORMERS, $706 million; (6) RATATOUILLE, $615 million; (7) THE SIMPSONS MOVIE, $526 million; (8) 300, $456 million; (9) THE BOURNE ULTIMATUM, $441 million; (10) LIVE FREE OR DIE HARD, $382 million.

Thanks to Gilbert’s Girl for the box office update; more details can be found on the Zone’s News & Views forum. –Part-Time Poet

PUBLIC ENEMIES, starring Johnny Depp, may shoot in Baraboo, Wisconsin

Location scouting is underway for Michael Mann’s film PUBLIC ENEMIES, starring Johnny Depp as bank robber John Dillinger, and Deppheads in Wisconsin may have reason to celebrate. Local news sources in Baraboo, Wisconsin are reporting that the Baraboo National Bank is being considered as the site for one of Dillinger’s bank robberies. According to Merlin Zitzner, the bank’s CEO, the bank building’s vintage look and the nearby courthouse square attracted the filmmakers, as they retain the architecture of the 1930s. Gene Dalhoff, executive director of the Baraboo Area Chamber of Commerce, told the press that he has been contacted by Universal Pictures, and was told that Baraboo was among 20 communities in Wisconsin being scouted as potential filming locations for PUBLIC ENEMIES. The president of the U.S. Bank in downtown Eau Claire, Wisconsin also reports being contacted by Universal Pictures with regard to using the bank as a film site.

Wisconsin holds other charms in addition to its Depression-era bank architecture and warm hospitality; the state has just enacted a very generous package of incentives and tax breaks to lure filmmakers to Wisconsin. “This is now a very attractive place,” said Lt. Governor Barbara Lawton, who is in negotiations with NBC Universal to bring PUBLIC ENEMIES to Wisconsin. Under the law, a film production company qualifies for a tax credit of 25 percent of the wages paid to employees to produce a film, video, electronic game, broadcast advertisement, or television production in Wisconsin. The incentive package also includes credits for sales tax, construction, wardrobes, clothing and visual effects, which would certainly help a film’s bottom line.

PUBLIC ENEMIES is scheduled to begin shooting on March 10, 2008, but the president of the U.S. Bank in Eau Claire told reporters that the Wisconsin filming would begin in May. Wisconsin does figure prominently in the John Dillinger story, as Dillinger and his confederates used a lodge in the Wisconsin northwoods as a hideout.

The Zone thanks Emma for posting several stories on this subject; you can read more about the location search on the Zone’s News & Views forum. –Part-Time Poet

Tim Burton to attend Paris premiere of SWEENEY TODD

More good news for our friends in Europe–Tim Burton will attend the French premiere of his latest film starring Johnny Depp, SWEENEY TODD: THE DEMON BARBER OF FLEET STREET, on Tuesday, January 15, 2008! The Paris premiere will be the third in a week for the intrepid director, following premieres in Tokyo (Tuesday, January 8) and London (Thursday, January 10). Although Johnny Depp was originally scheduled to attend this event (according to the website), the theater hosting the premiere now says that only Tim will be present. Residents of France can enter a contest to win tickets for two to the premiere; you can find the details here: The Zone thanks kan10 for sharing the news! –Part-Time Poet

"It's bloody great"–Richard Corliss of TIME gives SWEENEY TODD a rave review

Richard Corliss of TIME MAGAZINE spared no superlatives in praising Tim Burton’s film SWEENEY TODD: THE DEMON BARBER OF FLEET STREET: “This adaptation [. . .] is both faithful and liberating. The story, of a bitter man in 19th century London who has lost his wife and child and determines to carve out his revenge, has never seemed so human or so bleak,” writes Corliss. “[B]eneath Sondheim’s cold-steel lyrics, Burton finds a pulsing, mournful heart.”

The character of Sweeney Todd is “a romantic tragic figure,” notes Corliss, and those qualities are enhanced by the casting of Johnny Depp as Sweeney: “The director assured some measure of audience sympathy for Sweeney by handing the role to Depp, a magnificent star at the apogee of his powers. Depp’s voice may be on the reedy side, but he’s a true singing actor, making every note as persuasive as his words and gestures.” Corliss concludes his review by urging his readers to “give SWEENEY TODD a try” because “it’s bloody great.”

The Zone thanks dramaced for sharing the TIME review; you can read it on the Porch message board. –Part-Time Poet

Johnny Depp to visit Japan for premiere of SWEENEY TODD in January

The New Year will start with a swirl of promotional appearances for SWEENEY TODD, and the first on the schedule will be a trip to Japan. Johnny Depp is due to arrive in Tokyo on January 8, 2008, with the Japanese premiere of Tim Burton’s SWEENEY TODD: THE DEMON BARBER OF FLEET STREET taking place that evening, around 6 pm local time. A press conference will follow on January 9th. Then Johnny and Tim will be off to the UK for the London premiere of SWEENEY TODD, scheduled for January 10th. Whew! That’s one hectic schedule . . . and we will enjoy every frantic minute of it. The Zone thanks GAO and Charlotte Depp for the news from Japan. Good luck to all who are entering contests there, hoping to win a place on the red carpet for the premiere! –Part-Time Poet

PUBLIC ENEMIES, starring Johnny Depp, to begin shooting March 10, 2008

Variety has announced the shooting schedule for the upcoming film PUBLIC ENEMIES, written and directed by Michael Mann and starring Johnny Depp as charismatic 1930s bank robber John Dillinger. PUBLIC ENEMIES will shoot in Chicago beginning on March 10, 2008; the film is scheduled to complete principal photography on June 15th, leaving a two-week window before the Screen Actors Guild and Directors Guild contracts expire on June 30, 2008. PUBLIC ENEMIES will be produced by Kevin Misher and Jane Rosenthal for Universal. The Zone thanks Emma for posting the shooting schedule on the News & Views forum.

Michael Mann’s film will be based on the book PUBLIC ENEMIES: AMERICA’S GREATEST CRIME WAVE AND THE BIRTH OF THE FBI, 1933-34 by Bryan Burrough, which focuses on several high-profile bank robbers all operating in the midwest at the same time, including John Dillinger, Baby Face Nelson, Pretty Boy Floyd, the Barkers, and Bonnie and Clyde. Notes Variety, “In 1933, police jurisdictions ended at state lines, the FBI was in its infancy, the highway system was spreading, fast cars and machine guns were easily available, and a good number of the thirteen million Americans who were out of work blamed the Great Depression on the banks. In short, it was a wonderful time to be a bank robber. On hand to take full advantage was a motley assortment of criminal masterminds, sociopaths, romantics, and cretins, some of whom, with a little help from J. Edgar Hoover, were to become some of the most famous criminals in American history.” Other than Johnny Depp as John Dillinger, no other casting decisions have been announced. –Part-Time Poet

"Come and see your old friend Sweeney:"–SWEENEY TODD opens in North America today to rave reviews!

Today is a red-letter day (blood-red, that is): Tim Burton’s SWEENEY TODD: THE DEMON BARBER OF FLEET STREET, starring Johnny Depp as Sweeney, opens in 1,249 movie theaters in North America. Here are excerpts from reviews written by the most influential movie critics in the United States. You can read the full reviews on the Zone’s Porch message board; thanks to FANtasticJD, Alina, and Larkwoodgirl for posting them.

From A. O. Scott, New York Times: “SWEENEY TODD: THE DEMON BARBER OF FLEET STREET, Mr. Burton’s film adaptation of Mr. Sondheim’s musical, is as dark and terrifying as any motion picture in recent memory, not excluding the bloody installments in the SAW franchise. Indeed, SWEENEY is as much a horror film as a musical: It is cruel in its effects and radical in its misanthropy, expressing a breathtakingly, rigorously pessimistic view of human nature. It is also something close to a masterpiece, a work of extreme–I am tempted to say evil–genius.”

From Peter Marks, Washington Post: “Admirers of Stephen Sondheim who have long wondered whether a film of distinction would ever be made from one of his stage musicals can put aside their skepticism: Tim Burton has accomplished it in his ravishing SWEENEY TODD. With oceans of gore, streams of luscious musicality and a performance by Johnny Depp redolent of malevolence and magnetism, Burton brings Sondheim’s 1979 musical to the screen with a bravura visual style thrillingly in touch with the timelessly depraved delights of Grand Guignol. [. . .] John Logan’s screenplay homes in [. . .] deftly on the psyche of Sweeney, who in the handsome Depp’s smudgy eye makeup and deathly pallor somehow seems more Byronic, less demonic than his Broadway predecessors. [. . .] It takes an actor of Depp’s suaveness–and yes, musical grace–to fully pull this [role] off. [. . .] Vocally, he digs into lyrics as if he were pulling words out of a coal bin, waiting to feed them to the fire.”

From Roger Ebert: “Here is one scenario that is proof against a happy ending. It has what is much better, a satisfactory mixed ending, in which what must happen, does. Along the way, with merciless performances by Johnny Depp, Helena Bonham Carter and Alan Rickman, with a brooding production design by Dante Ferretti, with the dark shadows of Dariusz Wolski’s cinematography, it allows Burton to evoke [. . .] the dregs of London. And yet there is an exhilaration in the very fiber of the film, because its life force is so strong. Its heroes, or anti-heroes, have been wounded to the quick, its villains are vile and heartless, and they all play on a stage that rules out decency and mercy. The acting is so good that it enlists us in the sordid story, which even contains a great deal of humor–macabre, to be sure. As a feast for the eyes and the imagination, SWEENEY TODD is … well, I was going to say, even more satisfying than a hot meat pie [. . .] .”

Congratulations to Tim Burton, Johnny Depp, Helena Bonham Carter, Alan Rickman, and the cast and crew of SWEENEY TODD! –Part-Time Poet

Screen Actors Guild nominations shut out SWEENEY TODD

The nominations for the Screen Actors Guild Awards were announced this morning, and the absence of SWEENEY TODD from the Best Motion Picture Ensemble category was a major shock, as was the lack of a nomination for Johnny Depp’s performance as Sweeney. The SAG nominations seemed to be out-of-step with other awards predictors this year: Gold Derby’s Tom O’Neil notes that “only one of the films widely presumed to be a current frontrunner” for the Best Picture Oscar received a nomination for SAG’s Best Ensemble: NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN. “Missing were ATONEMENT, SWEENEY TODD, THERE WILL BE BLOOD, MICHAEL CLAYTON, and JUNO,” writes O’Neil. That’s a very impressive set of movies to overlook, so exactly which movies did SAG deem worthy of Best Ensemble nominations? 3:10 TO YUMA, AMERICAN GANGSTER, HAIRSPRAY, and INTO THE WILD. What did these films have going for them? Timing. They were released early enough in the year so the nominating committee had a chance to see them.

The SAG Best Ensemble award has only matched the Oscar Best Picture winner in 5 of the 12 years of the SAG’s existence, so it is by no means a surefire predictor of Oscar success. Still, this year’s curious slate of Best Ensemble nominees has Hollywood pundits scratching their heads and searching for explanations. One inescapable conclusion: films that had not had major theatrical releases when the nominating ballots were due were largely ignored by the voters. Notes O’Neil, “No ensemble nods [. . .] for ATONEMENT, CHARLIE WILSON’S WAR, and SWEENEY TODD could be due to the fact that these films, still not in wide release, had not been seen by some of the 2,100 members of the SAG nominating committee spread out across the country. [. . .] DVD screeners play a big role. ATONEMENT did send out DVDs, but not till the tail end of the race and it opened late in the calendar year in theaters (December) and so managed to get skunked. Late-breaking CHARLIE and SWEENEY did not send out DVDs and paid a high SAG price.”

The Zone thanks Intodadepps for the O’Neil article and many thoughtful contributors who posted on the SAG awards thread on the News & Views forum. You can read all of Tom O’Neil’s musings here: For the section on the SAG nominations, scroll about halfway down the page. –Part-Time Poet

SWEENEY TODD European premiere, in London on January 10th, to benefit Great Ormond Street Hospital Children's Charity

Tim Burton’s film of Stephen Sondheim’s landmark musical SWEENEY TODD: THE DEMON BARBER OF FLEET STREET will have its European premiere in London at The Odeon Leicester Square, on Thursday, January 10, 2008. The premiere will be a benefit for Great Ormond Street Hospital Children’s Charity; stalls tickets cost L50 each and are available by calling the GOSH events team at 020 7239 3069. Callers outside of the UK will need to add international calling codes to that telephone number. “By purchasing your ticket for the SWEENEY TODD Premiere,” notes the press release, “you are helping Great Ormond Street Hospital to help more children get better and get home–thank you!”

The pricier ticket package which offered a chance to attend the afterparty (at L175 per person) has already sold out–that’s fantastic for GOSH but less fortunate for Londoners who might have been hoping for a chance to rub elbows with Johnny Depp at the afterparty. Well, there’s always the red carpet! We’ll hope for fair weather and bright smiles all around on January 10th.

The Zone thanks Emma for breaking the news, and we wish good luck to anyone attending the premiere or the red carpet. May you have an evening you will always remember! Those who live far from London can always send a contribution to Great Ormond Street Hospital Children’s Charity by visiting the GOSH website here: It’s a way of being there in spirit, and at this time of year, when we have so much to celebrate, it would be good to share some of our bounty with those who watch over children and make them well again. –Part-Time Poet

"Amazing . . . that a studio went along with this"–Johnny Depp and Tim Burton discuss SWEENEY TODD with the Los Angeles Daily News

In an article titled “Depp, Burton sing each others’ praises,” Glenn Whipp of the Los Angeles Daily News describes his joint interview with Johnny Depp and Tim Burton; the friends were promoting their most recent collaboration, SWEENEY TODD. The reporter wisely stays with the Q&A format, knowing that their answers need no editorial embellishment. Here is a small sample of the interview:

Q: Producer Richard Zanuck was apparently a little nervous about hearing your singing, Johnny.

Tim Burton: I didn’t know what to expect. And when I finally heard him, I was amazed. It’s a hard musical to do, and he just made it his own. It sounded like him. A lot of times, things get overproduced and you don’t hear the person in the voice. But you heard him. And it had an emotional quality that I had never really heard in the material.

Q: You’ve said that the song you sent Tim, “My Friends,” was the first you’ve ever sung start to finish. That’s a little hard to believe.

Johnny Depp: It’s true. I don’t sing along to music.

Q: “Brown Sugar” comes on . . . .

Johnny Depp: I might sing a little harmony. I might air guitar. Drumming. I like to drum.

Tim Burton: What’s amazing is that a studio went along with this. Nobody knew if he could sing.

Johnny Depp: It’s astonishing. I don’t know what they were thinking. What were you thinking?

Tim Burton: I was thinking it was funny. I can’t tell you how many years I had to fight to get Johnny in my movies. Nowadays, I can’t even open my mouth without the studio asking if Johnny’s going to be in the movie. It was a long time coming. It’s great.

Many thanks to marijose and FANtasticJD for sharing the Glenn Whipp article; you can read it in full on the Zone’s News & Views forum or here: –Part-Time Poet

SWEENEY TODD Movie Soundtrack released–"Sondheim's score has never seemed more alive," says ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY

The motion picture soundtrack from Tim Burton’s film of Stephen Sondheim’s classic musical SWEENEY TODD becomes available today, Tuesday December 18th. Nonesuch is releasing two versions of the soundtrack. The simpler version is called “Soundtrack Highlights” and retails for $14.99 on; far more enticing is the “Deluxe–Complete Edition,” which retails for $19.99 on Amazon and includes the all the music from the film, plus an 80-page booklet containing all the lyrics and some lovely photographs from SWEENEY TODD. The booklet is very helpful for anyone who finds that Sondheim’s lyrics move too rapidly to take in all their beauty at first hearing.

Reviewing the soundtrack for ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY, Melissa Rose Bernardo says, “He can anchor a $2.7 billion franchise, but can Johnny Depp belt out a Broadway ballad in Tim Burton’s new film? Just listen to the haunting “My Friends,” in which the actor’s murderous Demon Barber of Fleet Street serenades his razors. Partner in crime Helena Bonham Carter unveils an unimpressive soprano, though Alan Rickman’s creepy judge is shiveringly seductive. And thanks to the lush orchestrations, Stephen Sondheim’s score–all jagged harmonies and beautiful dissonance–has never seemed more alive.”

The Zone thanks emma for the soundtrack review; you can find threads about the SWEENEY TODD soundtrack on the News & Views forum and on the Pit. To buy your own (in case Santa Claus missed your request), visit Amazon: –Part-Time Poet

"SHANTARAM is definitely on," director Mira Nair tells the Times of India

In a December 17th interview with The Times of India, director Mira Nair took the opportunity to set the record straight about her big-budget film for Warner Bros., SHANTARAM, starring Johnny Depp. SHANTARAM is not cancelled, she stresses; merely postponed because of the writers’ strike. Here are Mira’s comments to the Times:

Q: There are reports that your other ambitious project, SHANTARAM, with Johnny Depp and Amitabh Bachchan, has been shelved. What happened?

MIRA NAIR: It’s all untrue and I found it funny when reports said the film has been shelved because we couldn’t afford Johnny Depp. In fact, it was Johnny who came to me suggesting we make a film together and he’s the actual producer of the film. So, SHANTARAM is definitely on, but its on-hold at moment because of the on-going writers’ strike in Hollywood. We were supposed to get going on February 2, but now I guess it’ll take some more time to get started. [Note–in other interviews, Mira suggests a start date of fall 2008.]

Q: A lot of fans are excited about SHANTARAM , so can you tell us more about the project?

MIRA NAIR:Yeah, a lot of people have been pleased with the idea of seeing two mega stars together on screen. So now, in spite of all the problems, we’ve doubly resolved that no matter what, SHANTARAM will hit celluloid. Johnny will be playing Shantaram, who goes on to become an extra in Bollywood. We’re also making him do a Hindi number in the film, because Johnny has an amazing singing voice. There’s also an item song. Let me also clarify that Amitabh is still very committed to the film. We’ll be shooting the film in India and New Mexico.

You can read the full interview with Mira Nair, with details of her other film projects, on the Zone’s News & Views forum. –Part-Time Poet

"A must-see movie"–Ebert and Roeper, with guest critic Michael Phillips, give SWEENEY TODD a rave review

Nationally syndicated film critics Richard Roeper and Michael Phillips (filling in for an ailing Roger Ebert) gave rave reviews to Tim Burton’s film SWEENEY TODD: THE DEMON BARBER OF FLEET STREET in an “early review” on their television program this week. Both critics spoke especially enthusiastically of Johnny Depp’s performance as Sweeney Todd, the “gorgeous” production design, and Tim Burton’s direction. “Overall, this is a distinctive and haunting film,” said Phillips, “Burton’s best, certainly, since ED WOOD. Finally, someone has done justice to a Stephen Sondheim musical on screen.”

Roeper agreed with his colleague that the movie is “very well done.” Of Johnny’s performance, Roeper said, “I’m sure he’s going to get an Oscar nomination, and he may well win.” Roeper also saw much to admire in Alan Rickman’s performance as the villainous Judge Turpin, saying, “Alan Rickman does a terrific job in a supporting role.” Concludes Roeper, “SWEENEY TODD is one of the must-see movies of the holiday season.”

The Zone thanks Intodadepps for sharing the review; Zone members can watch it on the Video Clips forum. –Part-Time Poet

Johnny Depp tops poll of best autograph signers for 3rd year in a row

In news that comes as no surprise whatsoever to the Zone’s readers, Johnny Depp has once again been named the most cooperative and gracious celebrity when it comes to signing autographs; this is the third year in a row that Johnny has topped the survey conducted by AUTOGRAPH Magazine. Noting Johnny’s perennial position at the top of the list of “the ten best signers,” Steve Cyrkin, the editor and publisher of AUTOGRAPH Magazine, said, “Whether at a premiere, in a restaurant or on location, Depp may just be the best Hollywood autograph signer of all time.” Certainly many Zone members can corroborate Johnny’s kindness from their own experience; as cherished as the signature is the moment spent with Johnny as he signed his name.

The celebrity ranked worst to those seeking autographs this year was Will Ferrell. “What’s so frustrating about Will Ferrell being the worst autograph signer this past year is that he used to be so nice to fans and collectors, and a great signer,” said Cyrkin. “What makes him so bad is that he’ll taunt people asking for his autograph.” There’s one more reason to admire Johnny Depp–after twenty-some years of being besieged for autographs on a daily basis, he still smiles, signs, and makes the recipient feel special.

The Zone thanks Emma for sharing the story; you can read the full list of the ten best and ten worst autograph signers of 2007 on the Zone’s News & Views forum. –Part-Time Poet

It's a girl! Congratulations to Helena Bonham Carter and Tim Burton

SWEENEY TODD collaborators Helena Bonham Carter and Tim Burton became parents for the second time on Saturday evening, December 15th in London. Their newborn daughter (no name or birth details have been announced) joins big brother Billy Ray, 4. “They are absolutely delighted they have a daughter,” Helena’s press representative Karon Maskill told PEOPLE Magazine. “It’s a lovely Christmas present for the family.” The Burton baby girl is already knows when to make an entrance; she waited for her parents to receive their Golden Globe Awards nominations before taking her own turn in the spotlight.

The Zone thanks Hana for sharing the happy news; we send all best wishes to Helena, Tim, Billy and their new baby girl. –Part-Time Poet

Sad news–Native American actor and activist Floyd Red Crow Westerman dies

The photo at left shows Floyd Red Crow Westerman being directed by Johnny Depp on the set of THE BRAVE; Johnny chose the esteemed Native American actor to play the father of Johnny’s character Raphael. Sadly, Mr. Westerman lost his battle with leukemia today; although he has been playing Native American sages on film for decades, he was only 71. He is survived by his wife Rosie and five children; we send them our deepest sympathy.

Perhaps best-known for his roles as Ten Bears in DANCES WITH WOLVES and the Navajo shaman Albert Hosteen in THE X-FILES, Westerman was a familiar face in American television and films, with recurring roles in WALKER, TEXAS RANGER (as the uncle of Chuck Norris’s protagonist) and DHARMA AND GREG. Johnny Depp’s respect for Floyd Red Crow Westerman was so deep that he asked him to perform a Lakota Sioux sunrise ceremony to bless THE BRAVE before shooting began. Johnny told VANITY FAIR’s Kevin Sessums about the ceremony in a 1997 article: “The first day, before we started shooting, I had him [Red Crow] perform a Lakota Sioux sunrise ceremony to bless the film. Right after he finished, just as the sun was coming up and I was sitting down in my director’s chair for the first time, I got a call [. . .]. It was Brando telling me he’d do the role [. . . .] Can you believe that? Marlon’s an angel, man. [. . . ] He’s my angel.”

To see a larger photograph of Floyd Red Crow Westerman on the set of THE BRAVE with Johnny Depp, click here: His life was a blessing to us all, and we will miss him. –Part-Time Poet

"What an honor"–Johnny Depp reacts to his Golden Globe nomination for SWEENEY TODD

Asked to comment on his Golden Globe nomination as Best Actor in a Musical or Comedy for SWEENEY TODD, Johnny Depp said he was “super-flattered and immensely thankful,” reports “What an honor to even be mentioned alongside such a talented bunch.” Referring to SWEENEY TODD’s other Golden Globe nominations for Best Director, Best Actress in a Musical or Comedy, and Best Motion Picture, Musical or Comedy, Johnny said he is “[v]ery excited for Tim and Helena and the film!”

Tim Burton’s reaction mirrored Johnny’s: “It’s a great honor to receive this nomination from the HFPA,” Burton said. “I couldn’t be more thrilled for Johnny, Helena and the film.” Said Helena Bonham Carter, due to give birth any day now, “I’m very happy! I am fairly globular at the moment as I am about to have a baby. Tim wants to paint my belly gold!” Added the actress, with her usual candor, “It’s just nice to get some praise. Anything to get through the contractions.”

SWEENEY TODD producer Richard Zanuck told Variety how delighted he was with SWEENEY TODD’s awards nominations: “You can’t get enough of this recognition. I’m very proud of this picture. It’s so unique and was so unlikely to be made as a movie,” Zanuck said. “I’m especially thrilled for Tim, whose vision encompassed this entire endeavour. He’s wanted to make this movie for over 20 years and this is a great tribute to his passion and hard work.”

The Zone thanks Joni, Theresa, and Emma for sharing stories on the Golden Globes nominations–you can read all the comments on the News & Views forum. –Part-Time Poet

"On the same wavelength"–USA TODAY interviews Johnny Depp and Tim Burton

In an article called “The Artistic Mayhem of Depp & Burton,” USA TODAY’s Susan Wloszczyna focuses as much on the friendship between Johnny and Tim as she does on the upcoming release of SWEENEY TODD. “Their collaboration on SWEENEY TODD mirrors their past efforts–and reflects their deep bond,” Wloszczyna writes in the December 14th issue. “Like a mad scientist and his monstrously talented creation, Burton, 49, and Depp, 44, have a kind of psychic bond that results in sometimes-bizarre notions that still manage to connect with the mainstream public.”

One such notion is Tim’s choice to film the Sondheim musical in the style of silent films. “We took cues from silent movies,” Burton says. “When Johnny walks into that barbershop, you just see the pain in his eyes. I find he doesn’t have to say anything. It’s an acting style you don’t really see anymore.”

As for their 17-year friendship and six film collaborations, Burton explains, rather vaguely, “We’ve been lucky to usually be on the same wavelength and like similar kinds of things.” Helena Bonham Carter tells Wloszczyna that the men “are very like each other. Chosen brothers elected by each other. They have the same sense of humor and share a deep respect. [. . .] They are both introverts, but very flamboyant when it comes to their work. That is their release. They are rebels, anti-authoritarian. They are very age 7 in their sense of humor.”

And will SWEENEY TODD be too dark and troubling to be a successful holiday movie? Not at all, says Tim Burton: “You leave the theater thinking your life isn’t so awful, so it’s a time of hope. You know, ‘My family isn’t so rotten after all. That turkey wasn’t so bad.’ ” Adds Wloszczyna, “Besides, we know someone who could carve that bird to perfection.”

Many thanks to Theresa for sharing the USA TODAY article–you can read it in full on the Zone’s News & Views forum. The lovely photos of Johnny and Tim are by Todd Plitt: to see a larger view of the picture at left, click here: and to see a different photo, click here: –Part-Time Poet