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John Gertz, President of Zorro Productions answers your questions!

Picture of Mr. Gertz on the set of 'Zorro and son'.

From Barbara Holmes, Past Z club pres. "I would like to extend my thanks again to Mr. Gertz for being kind and giving us this chance to talk to someone 'in the know' in the world of Zorro. Thank you very much!! :))

Here are the questions and answers you all have been waiting for! Hope you enjoy reading them!"

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Question: I heard that you were one of the people working on the Mask of Zorro. How does it look? Will it be made for children, or will it be centered more for adults?

The Mask of Zorro looks really great, at least what I have seen of it from the "dailies." It will probably be rated as PG-13. In practice, I think it would be OK to take kids 8 and up. There is one scene that has a decapitation in it, but I understand that it will be edited so that it will not be too gory. Other than that, it will have the feel of an Indiana Jones movie. Adults may respond to the romance between Zorro (Banderas) and Elana(Catherine Zeta Jones).

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Question: Personally, what was your favorite Zorro production, out of all the movies, serials, and television shows?

My all-time favorite Zorro is Disney's. The natural sword fighting abilities of Guy Williams were terrific, and the choreography of the duels were very well thought out. I think Williams was perhaps the finest Zorro (though, I prefer Fairbanks' portrayal of Don Diego). I absolutely love the comic relief added by both Sgt. Garcia and Bernardo. The fun of this series has never been equaled. My second favorite version is the silent The Mark of Zorro, starring Douglas Fairbanks. It was Fairbanks who in large part defined the character, giving him his charm, romance and most of all, wit. His Diego was one of the most foppish. Duncan Regher's Zorro was outstanding, but, in my opinion, his Don Diego was lifeless and boring. Finally, I am rather partial to Republic's Zorro's Fighting Legion, which has a wonderful "cliff-hanger" at the end of each episode. My favorite is when Zorro is almost crushed to death by walls that are slowly moving toward him.

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Question: What other things can we fans look forward to from Zorro Productions?

Zorro fans can look forward to a number of things in the near future. First of all, in Fall, 1997 we will premiere our newest animated TV series (check local listings). We are producing it with Warner Bros. and Fred Wolf Studios (Ninja Turtles, etc.). The scripts and initial artwork that I have seen look great. Some new features to the Zorro legend have been added. For example, Bernardo, still a deaf mute, is now also a brilliant inventor. His contraptions often help Zorro save the day. Additionally, there will be a heroine who will know Zorro's true identity and help him. Also, some of the action will take place on the edge of the occult. There will be some sorcerers and ghouls. We are also working on a Broadway musical production of Zorro. Finally, when the film is released there will be a flood of books, toys, and other merchandise. This actually takes a lot of our attention and time right now. You die-hard Zorro fans may want to pay particular attention to a comprehensive historical survey of the Zorro, by S.R. Curtis, which will be published by Hyperion Press (a division of Disney).

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1. Do you prefer the legend of Zorro to embellish the adventurous, sword-fighting version? Or do you like the slant toward romanticism, as evident in the Family Channel version?

1. Personally, I believe that the time has come when we have to move beyond the traditional presentation of the Zorro story (e.g., as told by Disney or the Family Channel). However, we obviously don't want to go too far off the edge. So don't look for Zorro to meet Godzilla in the 26th Century. However, in these days we can't have Zorro meeting third rate bandidos in the back alleys of El Camino Real anymore either. It simply won't sell. That's why we have introduced an element of the occult into our new Warner Bros. animated TV series. The Topps comics also take a turn to the hard side. Playmates will introduce a line of Zorro toys that feature unprecedented takes on the character. One version of Zorro will be an expert knife thrower, while another will be wearing barbed wire armor. Frankly, some of these approaches are controversial and hard for me to take sometimes, too. However, we want to experiment with new approaches, and are inclined to give the creative talent we team up with a lot of latitude.

2. Is there any chance we can see reruns of the Duncan Regehr Zorro on Family Channel in the near future?

2. As far as I know, there are no plans to air Zorro on the Family Channel again. I believe that their contract has run out, and that Turner now controls the rights to the series. I have heard rumors that they plan to air it on TNT. But I am uncertain if this is true.

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I was wondering if you know if the Family Channel has plans to run the New Zorro anytime soon? Also if Walt Disney will run Zorro and Son?

I just answered about the Family Channel. Regarding Disney's Zorro & Son, I know of no plans for them to air these episodes. However, I think it would be a good idea for them to air them around the time of the movie release. I will call Disney and put the bug in their ear.

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1. How was Antonio Banderas chosen to play Zorro in the forthcoming movie?

1. Antonio Banderas wasn't chosen for this movie so much as he chose the movie for himself. He really wanted to do it. Antonio is really intrigued with the Zorro legend, and feels very strongly in Zorro's place as a positive role model for children.

2. If the new movie is successful, will there be a sequel?

2. If the movie is successful there will almost definitely be either a sequel or a prequel (i.e., telling the story of Anthony Hopkin's character before the start of the current movie). I am planning to meet with TriStar executives very soon to start discussing the sequel/prequel. Hopefully, we will start right away to write the script.

3. Has Zorro Productions ever considered doing a tribute to Guy Williams? He was and always will be my favorite actor to portray Zorro.

3. We love Guy Williams a lot, but what sort of a tribute would you suggest? We were approached once to help put his name in a star on Hollywood Blvd. We believe very much in charitable giving, and we devote a lot of resources to a variety of causes. However, as much as we love Guy Williams, we feel strongly that available cash should be used for society's benefit not for promoting stars. This is simply my personal philosophy and respect anyone who feels differently. I know that Steve Catalano has designed a tribute to his dad on his website (www.zorrofx.com).

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Question: Is there a possibility, if the new movie is successful, that a new series of Zorro TV episodes, possibly starring Duncan Regehr, might be put into production?

As you know from the above, a new TV series is in the works, but it is animated. I don't have a new live action TV series in the works, and I am not chasing one now. But you never know when some studio might call me with a proposal. I doubt if Duncan Regehr would star as Zorro again. The problem is that by the time we start filming a new series, some ten years or more might have passed since we started filming the last one in 1989. Duncan would probably be too old.

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1. Does your association with Steve Catalano go back to your childhood when your Dads shared a friendship on the Disney Zorro set, you seem to be about the same age?

1. Actually, I have never met Steve Catalano, though we do communicate by e-mail. I just bumped into him on the internet through a routine search for the word "zorro." He seems like a great guy. He graciously did some design work for our website (www.zorro.com), specifically the rotating Zorro you see when you log on. We are also discussing the feasibility of him designing our TV logo for the Warner Bros. series.

2. How did your family acquire the rights to the Zorro image and name from Mr. Johnston Mc Culley?? Or did they pass from Mr. Mc Cully to the Disney Organization and then on to you?

2. My dad, a theatrical agent in Hollywood, bought all the rights to Zorro from Johnston McCulley. He then sold those same rights to Disney. Disney then transferred the rights back again to myself and my twin sister, Nancy.

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Which version of Zorro can we expect to see in the Warner Bros. cartoon? Will the Playmates Toys be based on the movie or cartoon Zorro? How can we, the stateside fans of Zorro, get copies of the MONDO Italian cartoons? Will there be a newer Zorro video game? Will the movie's soundtrack be available?

I would say that Warner Bros. is mostly inspired by Disney. Bernardo, Garcia, and Alejandro are all there. However, there are a number of new characters, including Isabella, Zorro's female sidekick, Grey Owl, an Indian shamaness, and a number of unique villains. Playmates' version is completely unique, and barely inspired by anything, except a touch of Topps comics.

You cannot get Mondo videos in the U.S. We have specifically excluded them from the U.S. market, since we don't want to mess things up for Warner Bros. at all.

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