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What's New on the Rialto

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What's New on the Rialto

Phantom Phans Strike Again!

The tenacious Michael Crawford Phantom Movie Campaign has struck again in its ongoing assault on Hollywood casting geniuses. The latest effort is a two page spread in Monday's hot post-Oscar Edition of Daily Variety. One would imagine that this precedent-setting action by a fan organization even caught Variety staffers off guard.

The stunning black and white two-page spread features an intricate depiction of the infamous falling chandelier, quotes from and advice to Andrew Lloyd Webber, an overview of Crawford's legendary and world wide association with the role of the Phantom, and a pointed reminder to the film-makers that it is the paying public whom they ultimately must satisfy.

The very visible and extremely vocal campaign has been flooding Warner Bros. execs and Andrew Lloyd Webber with letters, petitions, faxes and e-mails for the past year. Then in November 1998 TMCPMC took an almost unheard of step: placing a full page ad in Variety insisting that their appeal be heard and that Andrew Lloyd Webber and Warner Bros. cast Michael Crawford in the title role of the movie version of Phantom Of The Opera. Early in 1999 they hit the trades again with an open letter to Andrew Lloyd Webber, placed in both Variety and the English counterpart The Stage.

Founded less than a year ago by one fan and her accommodating husband, the Campaign web page ( has grown into an extensive hub of activity and information. The latest film news and campaign press coverage from around the world appears within hours. Like a pit bull on a postman's leg, every lead or possible source of information or support is pursued and every opportunity is taken to spread the message that Michael Crawford's Phantom will never be equaled and, as one of the defining performances of a generation, deserves to be immortalized on film.

With a permanent web domain and a toll-free phone number (877-754-5706) the Campaign is clearly stating that they are staying in the game until the final bell. Will they succeed? Those bankrolling the film had better hope so. Hollywood needs to be reminded that the original Broadway stars nearly always deliver a successful film, while those with miscast Hollywood names usually take a dive at the box office and with the critics.

Andrew Lloyd Webber himself experienced only moderate success with his Hollywood and pop diva casting in Evita. Apparently he hasn't learned, and the Crawford Campaign is here to show him the error of his ways and the path to a blockbuster hit.

Will the TMCPMC succeed in their endeavors? Is Hollywood listening to a world where only until the Internet came around that they had to guess or conduct expensive surveys to find out what was marketable? For the first time in history the worldwide audience has spoken collectively before the casting. It's just a question of whether Hollywood is listening!

See you Sunday!

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