Disney advises Texans to forget 'The Alamo' Rickie Windle Maybe it's Mickey Mouse's failure to catch the Texas sense of scope that has him acting so goofy. At least Mr. Mouse's corporate employer seems to be missing the sense of grandeur. Disney just doesn't seem to understand that telling a Texas tale takes big bucks. But the return could be just as big. The evidence is in "The Alamo." Not the hallowed little building in the midst of downtown San Antonio, but the facade out near Dripping Springs and the film expectations around it. It seems that a little Scrooge has come out of Disney in relation to the film. Ron Howard - whether you know him from the Academy Awards or Opie or Richie Cunningham - was the linchpin to what appeared to be one of the year's most important film productions. Not just around these parts, but anywhere. Howard slipped into Austin with big plans and a gubernatorial press conference to say he planned to remake the epic that John Wayne first brought to the big screen. And on the periphery, it was said he'd spend nine figures doing it. Now that's thinking Texas big. But recent press reports indicate Howard is out as director and we've probably lost local musician and Academy Award winner Russell Crowe as Sam Houston as well. It's all about the money. The reports say Howard did get the Lone Star style and saw telling the tale as taking $130 million. Disney suggested that maybe he could cut a few Texans from the interior of the defended mission, lose a couple of cannons and maybe use computer-generated Mexican soldiers in addition to real people. They saw it more as closer to $100 million. Not good enough, Mr. Howard said. He decided to take his camera and go home. His production company will still be involved, but not his much-sought talent as director. That's a great loss when it comes to looking for a storyteller to regale us with the one that may mean most to Texans and tell all outside-border dwellers why we're like we are. This is the man who figured a way to film the iconic American movie star Tom Hanks underwater in "Splash" and in space in "Apollo 13." In fact, Howard went so far as to risk his cookies to get his hands on a plane to simulate weightlessness for his moon mission film. Howard could probably give true vision to heroic defense against overwhelming odds. His defection costs us some good casting, too. These days, when actors pick and choose their projects, the turning point is often the director. We all would like to choose our boss. With his sometimes sour temperament, renowned rounder Crowe would have made a pretty good Sam Houston. Disney has made a mistake. Now, we've all learned more about fiscal responsibility in the last year or so. We write with the pencils until they get down to the last few inches and do lunches that come between bread a lot more often. But Disney has missed what may be an opportunity that doesn't come along very often. In an industry where timing is everything, Disney blew it. Disney had the edge and may be letting it slip away. It's like deciding to make Magic Mountain a Magic Hill to keep the bottom line prettier for the next quarterly report. Walt would roll in his grave over such a lack of vision. First comes timing. It's pretty likely that Americans could use a John Wayne right now. We're looking for heroes. We have too many real-life ones who have suffered too much, so we'd like some heroes who do it all with nary a scratch until the end, when they give their all with a great quote. Whether it be lore or fact, that's what the Alamo is about. There's little doubt that a movie like "The Alamo" - done on the proper scale - could have Wayne-esque proportions. Not just in presentation, but in box office. There's also that Washington, D.C., thing. There are times in history when being Texan is a special thing. We who live here call that time "today," but outside they pick periods too. If there was a time to invest in putting pure Texana on the screen, it would be with a Bush partial to boots in the White House. Disney ought to take a second look at its books for the coming year and see if there just might not be that extra $25 million in there somewhere to do "The Alamo" right. To do "The Alamo" the Texas way. By the way, we natives think there's no difference. Rickie Windle is editor of the Austin Business Journal, an affiliated publication. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.