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Canku Ota

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(Many Paths)

An Online Newsletter Celebrating Native America


January 12, 2002 - Issue 53


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ABC Gives Green Light to Native American Miniseries

by Josef Adalian
credits: Robert Halmi Sr
Robert Halmi Sr.HOLLYWOOD (Variety) - The myths and legends of Native American culture will come to life via "Dreamkeeper,'' a $30 million-plus miniseries just greenlit by ABC.

The tentatively titled four-hour epic will use special effects to dramatize seven or eight Native American legends, such as the story of a rain god who falls in love with a mortal woman; another is about an outcast child who attempts to tame a water beast, thus saving his town.

The project will feature a cast made up almost entirely of Native American actors; a huge chunk of the crew also is expected to be Native American. Production is set to begin May 1 with an air date targeted for November 2003.

Wrapped around the mythology will be the story of a 17-year-old Native American boy (Eddie Spears) who, against his will, is forced to drive his 100-year-old grandfather to an annual storytelling powwow. During their drive from South Dakota to Santa Fe, the grandfather recounts the stories of his culture to his grandson, ultimately convincing the teen of the importance of his heritage.

"Dreamkeeper'' will be produced by Robert Halmi Sr.'s Hallmark Entertainment, the company behind "Merlin,'' and the upcoming "Dinotopia.''

After filming a slew of epics based on European and Middle Eastern cultures, Halmi said he decided it was time to focus on North America. With the United States a relatively young country, there wasn't much mythology to retell, Halmi said, so he quickly turned his attention to Native American lore.

"I started digging into it and found it's remarkable,'' Halmi said. "It's so colorful and gorgeous. The stories are so full of imagination. I thought I should help keep that culture's history alive.'' ABC's newly elevated entertainment president Susan Lyne, who was involved in developing the project for the network via her previous role as head of long-form programming, said it made sense to explore mythology closer to home.

Americans "don't think of ourselves as having a native mythology,'' Lyne said. "But in fact, the Native American mythology is so rich and so diverse. These are stories that we should all know.''

Halmi said utilizing mostly Native American talent both in front of and behind the camera was a no-brainer.

"What the hell does a costume designer from Hollywood know about Native American (dress)?'' Halmi quipped. "I want to make everything as authentic as possible.''

While many networks have cut back on big-budget miniseries in favor of more cost-effective event programming -- including NBC, where Halmi produced some of his most successful epics -- Halmi praised ABC for continuing to support lavish productions such as ``Dreamkeeper.''

"It's the best network, especially with its Disney background,'' he said. "(Other) people get scared, and when they get scared, they do less and they do cheaper.''

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  Canku Ota is a free Newsletter celebrating Native America, its traditions and accomplishments . We do not provide subscriber or visitor names to anyone. Some articles presented in Canku Ota may contain copyright material. We have received appropriate permissions for republishing any articles. Material appearing here is distributed without profit or monetary gain to those who have expressed an interest. This is in accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. section 107.  

Canku Ota is a copyright © 2000, 2001, 2002 of Vicki Lockard and Paul Barry.


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