- The Washington Times - Tuesday, December 30, 2003

Stealing Nemo?

The French — there they go again.

Franck Le Calvez, a French children’s author, has sued Walt Disney Pictures and Pixar Animation Studios, claiming the famous clown fish of “Finding Nemo” was plagiarized from his similar-looking character Pierrot Le Poisson Clown, according to the Hollywood Reporter.

At the very least, he wants Nemo products scrubbed from French bookstores and merchandise shops.

“What’s really upsetting is that quite a few bookstores won’t sell my book because they think that I have plagiarized ‘Nemo,’” Mr. Le Calvez says. “The two fish look very similar.”

Disney says the claim is bogus.

“We consider the case filed in France to be totally without merit because ‘Finding Nemo,’ which is owned by Pixar and Disney, was independently developed and does not infringe anyone’s copyrights or trademarks,” the company said in a statement.

Extreme makeover

For someone as naturally appealing as Charlize Theron, turning ugly for the movie “Monster” was easier than you might think. Makeup to de-prettified her skin, a set of crooked teeth ruined her smile and potato chips fattened her hips, according to Reuters News Agency.

But the South African-born actress (“Sweet November,” “The Italian Job”), who plays executed prostitute and murderer Aileen Wuornos in the movie, opening Jan. 9 in area theaters, hopes audiences don’t obsess over her new look as many did over Nicole Kidman’s prosthetic nose in “The Hours.”

“The greatest thing I can hope for, which is an impossible thing to hope for because so much emphasis has been put on the transformation, but it’s that people can go see it and get past all that,” she says.

Co-star Christina Ricci isn’t worried: “There’s not enough fat or prosthetics in the world to hide a bad performance, and she is incredible in the movie,” Miss Ricci says.

Cat and mouse

Two ex-Mickey Mouse Clubbers are starting to sound more like cats than mice.

Britney Spears and Christina Aguilera, both of whom traded smooches recently with Madonna, clearly aren’t in kissing moods anymore — at least not toward each other.

In the December issue of Blender magazine, Miss Aguilera said this of Miss Spears, speaking of their meeting before the MTV Video Music Awards last August: “She seemed very distant, even during rehearsals. Every time I tried to start a conversation with her — well, let’s just say she seemed nervous the whole time.

“She seems to me like a lost little girl, someone who desperately needs guidance,” Miss Aguilera said.

Miss Spears shoots back in the January issue of the same magazine, “I can’t believe Christina said that about me.”

“A lost girl?” Miss Spears said. “I think it’s probably the other way around.”

‘Hot’ stuff

This isn’t just any old pitch for cancer-research money: ESPN commentator and baseball columnist Peter Gammons and Boston Red Sox General Manager Theo Epstein sport their dual talents as musicians on the forthcoming charity CD “Hot Stove, Cool Music.”

The disc, due out Jan. 20, with proceeds benefiting the official charity of the Red Sox, the Jimmy Fund — which supports research at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute — also includes songs from Pearl Jam, Paul Westerberg and the Allman Brothers Band.

Mr. Gammons and Mr. Epstein’s band, Trauser, will perform live at the Paradise Boston the same day the CD hits stores, according to the Associated Press.

Big loser’ Blaine

After nearly starving himself to death in a plastic box suspended over the Thames for the entertainment of Londoners, illusionist David Blaine has received this thank-you from Britons: He was voted “biggest loser of 2003,” according to a poll conducted by England’s McCain Foods.

Compiled by Scott Galupo from wire and Web reports.

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