The Casting Broad
The Casting Broad


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The Old Song and Dance


Christina, Dearest

The past year has been one very long audition for Christina Aguilera, but by now she's a shoo-in for the Joan Crawford part in Whatever Happened to Baby Jane? She's got the hair, the eyebrows, plus that mix of frosty arrogance and neediness. She also has enough piercings on her tiny frame to be her own wire hanger.

Now X-tina can play a pop star who is confined to a wheelchair and forced to eat her own parrot by her insanely jealous sister, a has-been child star once played by Bette Davis. I'm not sure anything can match the sight of a 50-something Bette Davis in heavy face powder, blonde pigtails, and a little pinafore dress, licking a lollipop and singing on the beach before going to jail, but Ana Faris of the Scary Movie trilogy would give it her best shot.

She is my new favorite not-so-dumb blonde, with her big, sincere Bambi eyes and her fearless commitment to even the crudest, lamest jokes. She may be this generation's Judy Holliday, and I would pay good money to see Ana dance around and torment Christina. Hopefully they'd end up in the first duel to the death by makeup and fright wigs.

Single and Casting

Enrique Iglesias has turned casting into a big game of Mystery Date. Every music video involves him getting it on quite sweatily with some famously gorgeous female (Anna Kournikova, Jennifer Love Hewitt, Mischa Barton of The O.C); he's the Santa Claus of MTV, checking off his hottie list. Maybe at awards shows, he passes them notes that say: "You're cute, wanna make out? Check yes, no, or other."

I make lists of actors for my job all the time, so Enrique inspired me to invite a few to my video shoot. R.S.V.P.'s are still pending, but I'm getting pretty good at singing "Hero" intelligibly while kissing my hand.

Meanwhile, some people are sticking with tried-and-true screen relationships, like Antonio Banderas and Catherine Zeta-Jones, who may possibly reteam for a sequel to The Mask of Zorro. Right actors, wrong movie! The Mask of Zorro was a terrific romp, but a sequel could very easily turn into a bloated, ridiculous The Mummy Returns type of affair.

The Return of More Musicals

I'd rather see the pair film the musical Man of La Mancha, since no one has made a satisfying version yet. They are both legitimately talented singers, good actors, and, importantly, the right ages for the characters. Banderas is at that point of middle age where he could convincingly look much older as Don Quixote, while Zeta-Jones is at the peak of her womanly powers to embody the prostitute Aldonza.

This movie could amaze if kept straightforward and strong, with a director who knows that musicals do not have to be flashy spectacles, and whose style has more in common with Oliver! than Moulin Rouge.

A little dirty realism would do a lot for a new Brigadoon. The original had the vibrant Gene Kelly, but it was filmed on obvious soundstages, and dressed 18th century Scottish villagers in shiny, bright colors and ballet slippers. The mythic romance of the story would be ruined by too much cynicism, but it would be enhanced by authentic locations and costumes. Then the village is magical to a 21st century city boy because of its natural stink, sweat, and simplicity.

For cultural sensitivity, it'd be nice if the man who stumbles upon Brigadoon is a modern Scotsman himself, so the fish-out-of-water moments are due to the difference between past and present, not between Americans and a Lord of the Dance touring company.

That was a long-winded excuse to have Ewan McGregor star in another musical. But he was the reason Moulin Rouge had a heart, and based on his lovely rendition of "Your Song," he'd knock out a classic like "Almost Like Bein' In Love".

If Adam Sandler were the wise-cracking foil for McGregor, he'd get a chance to show off his surprisingly good singing as well as his serious side, when his character is responsible for a death late in the film. And Kate Winslet is my favorite for Fiona; hopefully her singing voice is still strong and high enough since she quit smoking.

Note:

when doing a film in Scotland, this column advises against the obvious Sean Connery cameo, except in extreme circumstances, like a remake of Darby O'Gill and the Little People.

I have no such sacred feelings toward Andrew Lloyd Webber's The Phantom of the Opera, but everybody's seen it, and it has the potential to be the kind of popular spectacle I dismissed earlier. However, the music is extremely demanding, and actors who have been interested in the past, like John Travolta, do not have the vocal range to pull it off.

You know who has the power to sing those songs? Jack Black. Seriously. On his Tenacious D albums, while he curses and gives bad sex advice, he reaches incredible rock- operatic heights. And he's love-him-or-hate-him-intense, kind of like this show.

There aren't many women in this world who can sing the part of Christine, either, but the one with the most potential is Beyonce Knowles, who gets better with each film and may have those scary glass-breaking notes in her if she tries.

Although, if you want truly scary, reverse the gender roles.

Barbara Streisand is . . . the Phantom.

Just imagine her famous profile with the half-mask, brandishing her perfectly manicured nails as she beckons to her young male protege, Enrique Iglesias. Hey, that deal might really work out someday; I hear she's 37th on his list.


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