Aaron Eckhart

By Tony Rizzo
HOLLYWOOD — “Footloose” opened strong, in second place, its first week. Originally set for last April, it suffered from not being a summer lead-in movie. Most critics liked it, but felt the old plot — banning dancing in a small town — was dated. It couldn’t happen in this day and age! Imagine my surprise to learn that Palm Desert High School, in Palm Desert, Calif., had banned a production of the Pulitzer Prize-winning Tennessee Williams play “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof” because of “references to sex, homosexuality, alcohol and mild curse words.”

Principal Bob Hicks said, “There’s censorship for every high school play because the audience of parents, grandparents, younger siblings and other students has to be considered.” What’s next — book burning? They substituted Thornton Wilder’s “Our Town,” also a Pulitzer Prize-winning play but no “Cat on A Hot Tin Roof,” which starred Elizabeth Taylor and Paul Newman and was nominated for a best picture Oscar. In other words, Bob Hicks feels “Our Town” is not allowed to have a “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof”!
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“Les Miserables” is the longest running stage musical in history. It’s played more than 10,000 performances in London during the past 25 years, and is the third longest running musical on Broadway. “The Phantom of the Opera” is the longest running musical on Broadway, and the film version, starring Gerard Butler, Emmy Rossum and Patrick Wilson, received mixed reviews and was an underperformer at the box office. They aren’t taking any chances with the film of “Les Miz,” casting Hugh Jackman, Russell Crowe, Anne Hathaway, Helena Bonham Carter and Geoffrey Rush. Oscar-winning director Tom Hooper (“The King’s Speech”) must have decided on “Les Miz” to distinguish it from the l998 non-musical version with Liam Neeson, Geoffrey Rush and Uma Thurman. “Les Miz” will hit screens in December 2012.
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Right on the heels of being Frankenstein’s monster in “I Frankenstein,” Aaron Eckhart will play “Beach Boy” drummer Dennis Wilson in “The Drummer.” Two of Dennis’ children, Jennifer and Scott Wilson, are on board, working with Sony Pictures to ensure the story about the last six years of their father’s life will show him as the great artist he was. Dennis, who starred in the 1971 film “Two-Lane Blacktop” with singer James Taylor and Warren Oates, died in l983 at the age of 39. He was on the verge of a solo career with his album “Pacific Ocean Blue,” first released in 1977 and re-released in 2008. Eckhart insisted on being a producer as part of his deal. Oh yes, he’ll do his own singing as part of becoming Dennis Wilson. He’ll also make sure the set is beachy-keen and has “Good Vibrations”!

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© 2011 King Features Synd., Inc.