- The Washington Times - Monday, August 9, 2004

Acting multilingual

Who would’ve pegged the Laurel and Hardy comedy duo as polyglots?

German film historians have discovered long-lost footage of Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy performing a routine entirely in German, the Munich Film Museum said yesterday.

Lest anyone get too impressed, Germans who’ve seen clips from the film are far more approving of the comedy than the accents.

“You can’t actually understand what they say,” said Klaus Volkmer, a spokesman for the Munich Film Museum.

“Their German is really broken,” said Wolfgang Guenther, who runs the Laurel and Hardy Museum in Solingen. “That’s the laugh effect. They didn’t know German at all.”

Turns out, Mr. Laurel and Mr. Hardy first shot their 1930s films in English, then reshot them with the same dialogue translated into German, French and Spanish — which they spoke phonetically — because it was so difficult to synchronize voices and actions in the early days of the talkies, the Associated Press notes.

The duo was known as “Dick und Doof” (“Fat and Dumb”) and, like David Hasselhoff today, was immensely popular in Germany.

Chewing the fat

Kirstie Alley, the plus-size “Cheers” star behind the forthcoming “Fat Actress” reality series on Showtime, stands 5 feet 8 inches tall and weighs in at 203 pounds. And she says, “I like who I am better than I’ve ever liked myself.”

That’s from Miss Alley’s revealingly blunt interview in the current People magazine, in which the actress opens up about poor self-image, diet and exercise (“I got lazy. I haven’t worked out for three years.”).

“I do not consider fat a disease,” she said. “What gene in my body says I have to eat four cakes instead of two?”

Contrary to conventional weight-gain wisdom, Miss Alley said she eats most when life is best. “The truth about me is, when I’m really upset” — like during her divorce from actor Parker Stevenson — “I don’t eat. If I’m really happy, then I live my life like it’s Christmas vacation.”

On “Fat Actress,” Miss Alley will semi-improvise a character based on herself, in the style of “Curb Your Enthusiasm’s” Larry David. According to Showtime exec Robert Greenblatt, the show is Miss Alley’s way of saying, “‘Yeah, I’m battling this,’ but in a comedic way.”

On Broadway

It’s still raining pop musicals on Broadway.

Last week, Miramax Films, Roger Waters and music executive Thomas Mottola announced they were bringing a production based on Pink Floyd’s “The Wall” to the New York theater hub.

Now “Good Vibrations,” a musical set to the music of the Beach Boys, is slated to open on Broadway in January.

The story, about a group of small-town teens transplanted to Southern California, was written by Richard Dresser, according to AP. John Carrafa is the director-choreographer.

Closet ‘Princess’ fans

Admit it, dudes. You loved “The Princess Diaries,” and you can’t wait to see the sequel when it hits theaters tomorrow.

At least that’s the theory of Anne Hathaway, the young actress who plays a regular girl gone royal in “Diaries.” She speculates that, when forced to take in the 2001 movie on an airplane, viewers of the male persuasion came away appreciating the romantic chick flick.

“Businessmen in particular got to see it that way, which is not the typical audience for the film,” she said. “But they would come up to me and say, ‘I saw your movie on an airplane and really liked it.’”

Clueless on cause

His family is claiming “natural causes,” but, so far, doctors aren’t saying for sure what killed Rick James.

An autopsy found no sign of foul play but “no obvious sign” of what caused the 56-year-old funk music pioneer’s death on Friday, Los Angeles County coroner’s spokesman David Campbell told Reuters News Agency yesterday.

Toxicology tests, expected within 10 weeks, will provide a clearer picture, he said.

Compiled by Scott Galupo from Web and wire reports.

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