- The Washington Times - Sunday, November 30, 2003

‘Chocolate’ redux


Author Roald Dahl wasn’t the only person to dislike 1971’s “Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory,” based on his children’s book, “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.”

Tim Burton, who announced last May that he’s directing a new version of the film, isn’t a fan of the original either.

“Have you seen it lately? Personally, I don’t want to crush people’s childhood dreams but, um, I’d rate ‘Chitty Chitty Bang Bang’ [also based on a Dahl book] much higher than that one,” Mr. Burton said.

Mr. Dahl’s dissatisfaction with the 1971 film led his estate to resist Warner Bros.’ attempts to obtain the rights for a remake, until they learned that Mr. Burton was on board to direct. So far, the director isn’t giving away any details on how his version will differ from the previous one. In fact, he says he hasn’t yet received the finished script, and that he’s still not sure if he’s going to keep the original’s musical numbers. The songs, composed by Anthony Newley, include “The Candy Man,” which became a mega hit for Sammy Davis Jr.

One thing that is known is that Johnny Depp is on board to play Willy Wonka. Mr. Depp, who has worked with Mr. Burton on “Edward Scissorhands,” “Ed Wood” and “Sleepy Hollow,” was recently named People magazine’s “Sexiest Man of the Year,” a fact that amused Mr. Burton.

“That cracks me up. It’s like, I guess he just arrived on planet Earth, Johnny. Jeez,” Mr. Burton said, laughing.

“Charlie” will be the second Dahl project that Mr. Burton has helped bring to the big screen; he also produced 1996’s “James and the Giant Peach.” Mr. Dahl, who also penned the screenplay for the first “Willy Wonka,” died in 1990.

“I like children’s books that have adults because, you know, children are like adults. I think adults forget that,” Mr. Burton said. “I just like Roald Dahl’s humor and emotion put together.”

Frankie’s costly snub

New York Post

“Malcolm in the Middle” star Frankie Muniz might have shot himself in the foot when he refused to do a Vanity Fair cover on “Young Hollywood,” the New York Post reports.

“Vanity Fair wanted to have Amanda Bynes, Hilary Duff, Mary Kate and Ashley Olsen and some other big teen women surrounding Frankie,” an unnamed source told the newspaper’s Page Six column. But Frankie — who turns 18 on Friday and starred in “Agent Cody Banks” on the big screen — declined the enticing invite earlier this year because “everyone was too TV for him. He wants to focus on movies.”

The cover ended up with just the women and “was one of the best-selling issues ever,” a Vanity Fair rep said.

Kara Trepicchio, Frankie’s rep at Wolff Kasteller & Associates Public Relations, explained his mysterious decision by saying: “We turned the cover down because it was mostly comprised of females.”

And what’s wrong with being surrounded by females?

Justin muzzles granny

San Francisco Chronicle

Pop hunk Justin Timberlake has begged his gossiping grandmother to stop spreading rumors about him and girlfriend Cameron Diaz.

The singer was mortified after 70-year-old Sadie Bomar told reporters the couple weren’t really in love and wouldn’t marry because Miss Diaz was too immature — so Mr. Timberlake has taken her aside and asked her to stop talking to the press.

A family source says, “Justin loves his nana, and Cameron gets on with her really well, too. But sometimes she’s too sweet to say no when someone’s poking around for tidbits.”

Casting crop

San Francisco Chronicle

Nicole Kidman has chopped off her trademark auburn hair for her part in a new movie.

The Oscar winner, who recently tried out a frizzy style and a blonde perm, has been snapped strolling in Los Angeles showing off a short bob haircut — but this time the change is for film “The Stepford Wives.”

A Tinseltown source says, “Nicole likes to experiment with her hair. But the bob was needed for her part in her new movie.”

Compiled by Robyn-Denise Yourse from Web and wire reports.

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