- The Washington Times - Sunday, March 13, 2005

Ready for his close-up

Los Angeles Daily News

Pop/R&B; superstar Brian McKnight hopes to make further inroads into his second career — as an actor — with several films in the offing.

The Grammy-nominated crooner says he’s been “contacted by two or three people to see if I would be interested in doing the Nat King Cole story if they got the rights, and I said, ‘Of course I’d be interested.’ But there’s a problem getting the rights to it. The family has been reluctant,” he says.

Another biopic he’d definitely like to sink his teeth into — especially in light of Jamie Foxx’s phenomenal success with “Ray” — is that of the late, great jazz trumpeter Miles Davis.

“I love Miles the most,” Mr. McKnight says. “What people don’t know is that until I was about 18, all I played was jazz. I play the trumpet, and that’s the only instrument I really know how to play, even though I don’t play it anymore.”

Pan sequel planned

Associated Press

Peter Pan and the wily Captain Hook are set for a rematch.

Award-winning children’s author Geraldine McCaughrean has been chosen to write the official sequel to J.M. Barrie’s “Peter Pan,” the London hospital that holds the copyright to the classic work said yesterday.

Barrie willed the “Peter Pan” copyright and royalties to the Great Ormond Street Hospital when he died in 1937, and the institution has long wanted to commission a follow-up. The copyright expires in 2007.

]The hospital has stipulated that the new work, titled “Captain Pan” must feature the original characters: the boy who never grew up, along with his pals Wendy, fairy Tinkerbell and the Lost Boys — as well as the fearsome pirate Hook.

Miss McCaughrean was chosen from a number of authors who submitted sample chapters and synopses of the potential book. She will split the royalties from the new book with the hospital.

“I think J.M. Barrie would have liked her style — if I’m wrong, he’ll be back to haunt us,” said David Barrie, a great-great-nephew of the author and a member of the judging panel.

The Peter Pan character first appeared in a 1902 novel, “The Little White Bird,” and the play that made him famous premiered at the Duke of York’s theater in London two years later. The Scottish-born Barrie turned the story into a children’s book in 1911, and its combination of mystery and magic made it a favorite with youngsters.

Hollywood marked the play’s centenary last year with two movies, a live action “Peter Pan” and “Finding Neverland,” a biopic starring Johnny Depp.

Duty bound

Associated Press

Two-time Oscar winner Hilary Swank is going toe-to-toe with New Zealand authorities over a $150 fine customs officials slapped on her for bringing fruit into the country, according to reports published yesterday.

Miss Swank, who won a best-actress Academy Award for her role as a boxer in Clint Eastwood’s acclaimed boxing saga “Million Dollar Baby,” was fined 200 New Zealand dollars (U.S. $150) on Jan. 15 for failing to declare an apple and an orange in her luggage when she arrived at Auckland International Airport, the Sunday Star-Times newspaper said in a front-page story.

She has instructed lawyers to appear in the northern city’s Manukau District Court next week to contest the fine, the newspaper reported.

Thousands of visitors arriving in New Zealand each year are hit with on-the-spot fines for not declaring products like fruit which are subject to import bans. Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry spokesman William Minchin told the Star-Times that hundreds of people contest the fine.

“It’s a pretty standard practice to issue an instant fine for a biosecurity risk,” Mr. Minchin told the newspaper. “The only thing that’s unusual in this case is that it’s Hilary Swank and she’s famous.”

Miss Swank also won a best-actress Oscar for the 1999 film “Boys Don’t Cry.”

Applegate sidelined

Associated Press

Christina Applegate, star of the Broadway-bound revival of “Sweet Charity,” broke her foot during a performance in Chicago and will be out of the musical through its Boston tryout engagement, which begins Friday.

Miss Applegate is expected to return to the musical by the time it starts preview performances April 4 in New York, John Barlow, a spokesman for the show, said yesterday. The musical is scheduled to open April 21 at the Al Hirschfeld Theatre.

She was injured during the opening moments of Friday’s performance at Chicago’s Cadillac Palace Theatre, but continued to play for about 20 minutes before the show was stopped. After a short delay, Miss Applegate’s understudy, Dylis Croman, took over the role, and the performance resumed.

Miss Applegate will be replaced for the Boston engagement of the show — beginning Friday and continuing through March 27 — by her standby, Charlotte d’Amboise, who currently is playing Roxie Hart in the Broadway company of “Chicago.”

Miss Applegate, best known for her role as the teenage tart on television’s “Married … With Children,” will be making her Broadway debut in the musical.

“Sweet Charity” tells the story of Charity Hope Valentine, a good-hearted taxi dancer who always falls in love with the wrong man. The musical, which has a book by Neil Simon and a score by Cy Coleman and Dorothy Fields, debuted on Broadway in 1966 with Gwen Verdon in the title role. Shirley MacLaine starred in the 1969 film version. Dancer-choreographers Debbie Allen and then Ann Reinking were in the 20th-anniversary Broadway revival in 1986.

Compiled by R. Denise Yourse from Web and wire reports.

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