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Chocolat, the Musical? Stranger Things Have Happened

 Chocolat, the Musical? | Regis' New 'In-Law' | Anthony Quinn's Last Stand | Tony Reunion | Tickling Our Monkeybone

 Chocolat, the Musical? Stranger Things Have Happened

 Could it be that Chocolat, the Lasse Hallstrom Oscar-nominated film, is headed to Broadway? Hey, why not? 

Now that Mel Brooks' The Producers is a hit, I predict that movie execs will start looking through their catalogues for other possible transfers. In fact, this very reporter suggested to Miramax's Harvey Weinstein — glowing from his investment in The Producers — that Chocolat was a perfect choice. 

Weinstein did not hesitate to respond. "That's a great idea," he said. "Can Juliette sing?" 

Of course, he was referring to Juliette Binoche, nominated for an Oscar for her role as Vianne Rocher, owner of the chocolaterie in the movie. Before I could answer, Weinstein found Binoche — who'd been nominated for best actress in a play for Harold Pinter's Betrayal — and returned with this news. 

"Juliette is taking singing lessons for a new movie. I've offered her the part!" 

Binoche indeed confirmed this situation. "I have to sing because I do Gregorian chanting in Assumption of the Virgin," the new film she starts shooting in October. "But I'm just taking singing lessons, that doesn't mean I can sing. Yet." She paused. "Anyway, who do you think should write the music?" 

By the way, Binoche — oh so French and elegant in a jaunty black hat — told me she was one of the few people who'd seen The Producers who wasn't completely wild about it. 

"Mel Brooks is very broad comedy, yes?" she said. "I prefer Charlie Chaplin, or Woody Allen."

And that's how the croissant crumbles. My prediction? Chocolat on Broadway by 2004, with or without Binoche. And it's still a very good idea. Only one problem. As TV producer Fred Rappaport, husband of Tony-nominee Michelle Lee (my first choice for the musical Vianne), mentioned later: "How will you get that kangaroo on the stage?"

Regis' New 'In-Law' Happy as a Clam

Actor Mark Consuelos  is very happy so far with how wife Kelly Ripa is doing as Regis Philbin's sidekick. 

I ran into Mark — who plays Mateo on All My Children — last week at the premiere of Sex and the City. A few days earlier, publicists and security guards hadn't recognized him at the premiere of Pearl Harbor. He was almost crushed by curious audience members trying to get by him. Finally someone informed the right people, and Consuelos was waved in. 

If he'd been with Ripa, there probably would not have been a problem. 

"We couldn't be happier," he told me. "The Kelly you're seeing with Regis is the same person at home. She was literally doing the same routines in the makeup room at All My Children. It's really her, and she's been preparing for it all her life." 

Does Consuelos mind being "Mr. Ripa"?

"Not at all. For one thing, the money is great. We have one son and another kid on the way any second. So it's just fine. And it's not like my career is that demanding right now. I did a couple of guest shots on sitcoms and no one even knew who I was. And it didn't matter." 

Well, you can't beat a well-adjusted answer from a sensible sounding person.

Anthony Quinn's Last Stand, or the Tale of the Actress's Practical Joke 

And now, a little more about Michelle Lee and a joke that originated on Friday night. 

To really get this, you have to know that famed actor Anthony Quinn died on Sunday morning  On Friday night, who knew that was going to happen? 

Michelle Lee, eating at Elaine's with her husband Fred Rappaport, told me on Friday night that she had a funny idea. Since one of her co-stars in The Tale of the Allergist’s Wife —Linda Lavin — was nominated for a Tony and the other — Tony Roberts — was not, she wanted to do something nice for him. 

"I'm going to send him a case of champagne, with a note saying how wonderful his work is. Only, I'm going to say I loved him in Zorba" — purposely confusing him with Anthony Quinn, for a laugh. 

"Why champagne?" someone at the table (well, actually, this reporter) queried. "Make it Ouzo"— the Greek liqueur.

Ouzo was agreed upon. The next day, Michelle and Fred indeed sent Roberts his gift. A little later, to their astonishment, they received a message back from him. 

"Did you know in advance that Anthony Quinn was going to die today?" 

Yikes! 

Roberts continued, through a long, hearty, sad laugh: "I thank you, and I only hope that you win the Tony tonight so I can hear my name from the stage."

The White Shadow Strikes Again: A Tony Reunion

Tony-nominated Follies star Blythe Danner and her husband Bruce Paltrow got a little surprise at the post-Tony ball. 

Brian Stokes Mitchell, Tony winner last year for Kiss Me Kate and nominated this year for King Hedley II, bumped into them as they made their way to their tables. 

"I wanted to tell you," Mitchell told Paltrow, "that I was on an episode of The White Shadow. It was right before I got Trapper John." 

Paltrow of course produced the seminal series White Shadow in the late '70s and early '80s, right before he did St. Elsewhere

If that wasn't coincidence enough, Danner is now co-starring in Follies with Mitchell's former Trapper John colleague Gregory Harrison. My question is, how did all these people from Trapper John — my favorite worst medical show of all time — get to be such big deals on Broadway?

Foxfire: Tickling Our Monkeybone

A movie Web site declared yesterday that this column excluded Monkeybone from our list of the biggest financial duds of all time. The reason, reasoned Jeffrey Wells? It's a Fox movie. 

We have to take umbrage here. Fox movie releases, like those from every other studio, are treated equally here. Indeed, some Fox films — like Fight Club and Moulin Rouge — have received just as much scathing criticism as those from other studios. 

As for Monkeybone: It cost $75 million and, according to the Internet Movie Database, probably grossed a little less than $6 million. A bigger flop than Town & Country? Maybe. But certainly not when counting the amount of talent and time that went into T&C

And as for Fox-released films: The one we liked the most in a year, Joel Schumacher's Tigerland, was dumped upon release. So, go figure. Are we partial to Fox products? Well, I, for one, love That '70s Show. So there.

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