- The Washington Times - Wednesday, January 21, 2004

Re-meet the Beatles

Noted Beatles historian Bruce Spizerspent more than a few hard day’s nights laboring to complete his exhaustive account of the Fab Four’s first arrival on these shores, on Feb. 7, 1964.

Mr. Spizer, 48, drew on his day job as a New Orleans tax attorney to research and write “The Beatles Are Coming! The Birth of Beatlemania in America” over nine months and publish it — complete with an avuncular foreword by Walter Cronkite — in time for next month’s 40th anniversary.

He hopes the results will stand as “the first book to accurately depict how Beatlemania evolved in America,” Mr. Spizer said during a swing through town to promote the richly illustrated and documented project.

Washington, of course, not only was the site of the Beatles’ first U.S. concert — at the old Coliseum on Feb. 11, 1964 — but the city that introduced the group’s first U.S. hit, “I Want to Hold Your Hand,” after the late Carroll James, a disc jockey at WWDC-AM, was spurred to action by a letter from 15-year-old Marsha Albert of Silver Spring. She had heard the moptops Dec. 10, 1963, in a piece filed from England for Mr. Cronkite’s “CBS Evening News.”

Mr. Spizer details how, in his view, these three essentially “jump-started Beatlemania in America.” The book, available through his Web site (www.beatle.net), follows his meticulous four-volume history of the band’s U.S. releases.

“Looking back at it now,” Mr. Spizer says, “it’s really satisfying to know that music that we thought was great — and other people were telling us was a passing fad — has stood the test of time and is music that, I feel, 40 years from now will be looked at with the same awe.”

— Ken McIntyre

No Stiller duo

For “Meet the Fockers,” the forthcoming sequel to the Ben Stiller comedy “Meet the Parents,” there was talk of the actor’s comedian father, Jerry Stiller, playing his dad in the movie.

It wasn’t to be. The role has gone to Dustin Hoffman, according to the Hollywood Reporter.

The younger Mr. Stiller, Robert De Niro, Blythe Danner and Teri Polo will return in their original roles.

Robert ‘Reds’-ford

Oh, the romance of revolution. Hollywood types such as Oliver Stone have long held a fascination with Cuban politics and El Jefe Fidel Castro; it was only a matter of time before they turned their pining gaze toward Che Guevara, the Argentine-born Castro sidekick.

Director Terence Blanchard is working on a biopic about Che starring Benicio Del Toro, but Robert Redford and Walter Salles have beaten him to the punch.

Mr. Redford, the executive producer in this case, screened Mr. Salles’ “The Motorcycle Diaries,” about Che’s nine-month tour through South America as a 23-year-old medical student, at the Sundance Film Festival last weekend. It received a standing ovation.

Tomorrow, Mr. Redford will take “Diaries” to Havana, where Che’s widow, Aleida March, will get a sneak peak.

Extreme makeovers

Amy Smart is giving Charlize Theron a run for her money in the uglification department.

For a brief scene in the psychological thriller “The Butterfly Effect,” which opens tomorrow in area theaters, the blond bombshell emerges as a bedraggled prostitute with a nasty razor slash, damaged hair and bad skin.

She says the makeover, which required three hours in the makeup chair, didn’t bother her at all when she saw the scary new visage onscreen.

“That stuff doesn’t really freak me out,” Miss Smart said over the phone. “But I saw the effect it had on other people, and I enjoyed freaking them out.”

As for working with hunk-of-the-moment Ashton Kutcher, Miss Smart points out that “Butterfly” was filmed 1 years ago — before there was “Punk’d” and before there was Demi. He was just a guy who had worked in TV, looking to break into a dramatic role.

She notes that Mr. Kutcher not only stars in “Butterfly” but executive-produces the movie, too. “He took a real responsibility toward it and did a lot of work. He really took it seriously,” she says.

Compiled by Scott Galupo from staff, wire and Web reports.

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