Back in the 1940's, any kid whose family owned a television set was extremely lucky. If any of the kids at school were fortunate enough to be friends with that kid, then every day after school they would all inevitably end up back at his house to watch The Adventures of Roy Rogers, America's Singing Cowboy.
The "King of the Cowboys" may very well be heading back to the silver screen if 821 Entertainment has they're say in it. They have recently partnered up with the Roy Rogers Family Entertainment Corp. and are planning to release a "King of the Cowboys" trilogy in theaters in the near future, as well as, all the marketing tools that go along with it - merchandising, animated TV series and interactive game.
It was a much different time almost 70 years ago when the first Roy Rogers film, Song of Texas, came out. Children would wear their cowboy hats, six shooters and spurs while watching their favorite show and parents didn't have to worry about the content their kids were watching.
Born in 1911 as Leonard Slye, he turned his persona, Roy Rogers, into a household name in the 40's and 50's by appearing in 88 films. He died in 1998, but not before writing, producing and directing over 100 shows in radio and TV. He didn't do it alone though: his wife Dale Evans, the golden palomino pony Trigger and the wonder dog Bullet were there for each episode to help him along. Joining Roy on his journey were his pals Pat Brady, with his jeep Nellybelle, and the cantankerous Gabby Hayes.
821 Entertainment is based in Nashville and has only one film title they are associated with, as far as I can tell from either IMDB or their website: The Dance: The Billy Roth Story. This doesn't mean they won't do a good job with a Roy Rogers movie though. 821 Entertainment CEO Eric Geadelmann had this to say about the potential direction of the trilogy:
"...,[will] not be a biopic, and will not be a traditional Western, but rather a family fantasy adventure. Roy Rogers, Dale Evans and Trigger are quintessential figures of America, and we will introduce this franchise to a new audience while capitalizing on the millions of Roy Rogers fans worldwide."
Check out this old trailer for On the Old Spanish Trail
This could turn out to be a really fun franchise to watch be reborn. With all of the anger and disappointment focused towards Hollywood with the recent rash of supposed "kid friendly" movies that turn out to be not-so-kid-friendly (Land of the Lost and Up come to mind), 821 could be poised to strike while the iron is hot.
That being said, I like the approach that 821 Entertainment is taking with this. It's about time we were given a western that both parents and kids can watch together without it being bloody, violent and obscene. Long gone are the days of the Apple Dumpling Gang with funny men Tim Conway and Don Knotts. Now, it's all about how "realistic" Hollywood can make a western movie; but do parents really want their young kids exposed to that type of environment just because it's more lifelike?
Kids grow up wanting to be a number of things they know nothing about - firemen, policemen, cowboys, baseball players, princesses, artists - but should movies be the outlet we use to inform them of the harsh realities of life? "Yes you can be a fireman but one day you could die in a fire or, if you're a police officer, you could lose your best friend to a gang shooting while on patrol."
I say just let them be kids and enjoy the fantasy of being whatever it is that are dreaming of. If that means watering down the idea of what a cowboy is, then so be it. Not every family in America is as "progressive" as Hollywood would have us believe they are, and some families actually don't enjoy sex, violence and profanity shoved into their faces at every turn. Screen Rant's Editor-in-Chief, Vic Holtreman recently addressed this issue with a post that puts Hollywood's "progression" into perspective.
Let's see if 821 Entertainment handles this Roy Rogers project with the respect it deserves and brings on a cast and director that can entertain us without using an off-color joke, rude remark or gratuitous cleavage shot.
Is anyone here old enough to remember watching Roy Rogers on TV or film and not shy to admit it? Do you think a Roy Rogers "King of the Cowboys" has a place in modern cinema or have we "progressed" to a point that family entertainment of the non-cartoon variety must always be PG or PG-13 rated to be popular?
There is no release date for The Adventures of Roy Rogers trilogy.