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Talkin' Broadway V.J.

Phantom's Unrelenting Fans

They just won't stop. The Internet's Phantom Movie Campaign, headed by Diane Flogerzi, is about to strike again with an unprecedented 9th ad in VARIETY. Some scoff at the group as being "Phans" but that won't stop them. Their mission is to make Hollywood aware of the potential hit it can have if, when the film is made, Michael Crawford is cast in the leading role in Andrew Lloyd Webber's musical The Phantom of the Opera.

Flogerzi and friends began about two years ago and the momentum has been building ever since. She, and others, have been featured in many mainstream newspaper articles, including USA Today and The Los Angeles Times, and appeared on international television and radio shows as they try and get their message out to the world. They're also very careful about rumors, or published reports, which state Antonio Banderas would be cast in the coveted role. Flogerzi makes it a special point that the campaigners are not "anti-Banderas," just simply "pro-Crawford."

Broadway-style movie musicals are certainly not on the top of the list of films to be made at any Hollywood studio. My guess is they're simply risky ventures. Even last year's Evita, which starred Madonna, wasn't exactly a box-office bonanza. Whether you are a fan of the stage musical, Phantom of the Opera or not, it can't be denied that it's the biggest world-wide stage hit in the last 100 years. And the possibility of a huge mega-hit Hollywood film is definitely there.

Casting original Broadway stars in Hollywood musicals is an age-old argument which has been beaten to death. Of course, the first example everyone cites is Mame, the Jerry Herman musical which starred the miscast Lucille Ball. In a recent conversation I had with Mr. Herman we talked about the possibility of a television version being made. Although it's only in the talking stages there is a very good possibility that it's going to happen and "they'll finally get it right."

Casting is the Movie Campaign's only focus. They feel so strongly about Michael Crawford for the film that they are spending thousands of dollars on these ads in VARIETY. I find the whole thing very interesting as it's the very first time fans are speaking out before a film is cast. They're sending a message to both Hollywood and Webber, but are they listening? Asked about this, Flogerzi replys, "This is one of the few opportunities Hollywood has had to learn in advance what the audience wants and expects in a motion picture, normally they have to guess. I should hope they are paying attention after nine industry trade ads, and thousands of letters and petitions received by them from people all over the world making their voices heard."

In their latest ad which appears Monday, Feb. 7, they've adopted a clever Letterman style Top 10 list to get their message across.

Top Ten reasons why Michael Crawford should be cast in the film The Phantom of the Opera.

  • 10. He's been "rehearsing" since 1986--dues paid in full.

  • 9. He doesn't need singing lessons and already KNOWS the score.

  • 8. His glorious voice means the music doesn't HAVE to be rewritten.

  • 7. He was cast in the film in 1990 by Andrew Lloyd Webber and Warner Bros. to maintain "The integrity of the Original."

  • 6. He is recognized worldwide as the voice of the Phantom on more than 15 million copies of the original cast recording.

  • 5. He created the blueprint for this role that is being followed even today on stages around the world; his stamp on the show is indelible.

  • 4. He won every major award, including the Tony and the Olivier, during his 1300-performance, $80 million run.

  • 3. In thousands of letters, petitions, and movie polls, Phantom fans from around the world have made it known that he is their first choice.

  • 2. Rave reviews, incredible word-of-mouth: it is his performance the 58-million-strong Phantom audience wants to see.

  • 1. VOICE, VOICE, VOICE, VOICE, VOICE, VOICE!!! It's the voice!

So, who knows what will happen? And some will say, "Who cares?" Obviously, Flogerzi and the Phantom Movie campaign people do as they're putting their money where their mouth is!

See you Thursday!

Afterthought Note: Maggie, on the Phantom Movie message board, posted the following as a result of this column: "When David O. Selznick bought the movie rights (to Gone With the Wind), fans deluged him with mail demanding Clark Gable for the part (Rhett Butler). So, like the great film maker he was, Selznick listened to his audience and gave them what they wanted."

Thanks Maggie. Perhaps, history will repeat itself.

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