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Mamma Mia! Brosnan Was a Bad Choice

August 1, 2008

By Chris Hicks Deseret News

OK, what idiot decided Pierce Brosnan could sing in “Mamma Mia”? Seriously, I really want to know.

Can it be the guy who cast “Camelot” in 1967? Is he still around? The guy who thought Vanessa Redgrave would be a better Guinevere than Julie Andrews and that Franco Nero could sing Lancelot better than Robert Goulet?

You know, the same guy who cast “Paint Your Wagon” in 1969 with those grand tunesmiths Clint Eastwood and Lee Marvin?

At least when Deborah Kerr was cast in “The King and I” (1956) and Natalie Wood signed on for “West Side Story” (1961) and Audrey Hepburn landed “My Fair Lady” (1964), the producers had the good sense to hire Marnie Nixon to dub their singing.

Brosnan, who couldn’t carry a note on an iPod, has no less than two close-up warbling solos in “Mamma Mia.” And he butchers them. It would have been more musical to have his fingers scraping a chalkboard.

I know movie musicals are a rare species these days, so perhaps it was difficult to get a well-known actor with pipes who could play Meryl Streep’s boyfriend of 20 years ago.

Several people have suggested to me that Hugh Jackman could have done it. True, he’s a fine actor and a very good singer … but he’s also Streep’s junior by two decades. Sorry, he’s too young to play a former ’70s hippie.

But how about these guys?

— ANTONIO BANDERAS, in addition to being the most recent “Zorro” and a swashbuckling feline in the “Shrek” films, earned a Tony nomination for singing and dancing in the Broadway musical “Nine.”

— MANDY PATINKIN, best known to moviegoers as the sword- wielding Spaniard who seeks revenge in “The Princess Bride” (“My name is Inigo Montoya, you killed my father, prepare to die”) and to TV-watchers as the lead detective on the first two seasons of “Criminal Minds,” is a respected singer with several CDs under his belt.

— KEITH CARRADINE may have a lower profile these days (he’s been doing more stage work than films), but as one of a trio of second- generation acting brothers (he and David and Robert are the sons of longtime horror star John Carradine) he has plenty of talent, and he earned kudos for starring as the title character in “Will Rogers Follies” on Broadway. He also won an Oscar for composing “I’m Easy,” which he sang in the movie “Nashville” (1975).

— JOHN TRAVOLTA is perhaps the most obvious choice for producers who want a big star — and he wouldn’t have had to do this one in drag and a fat suit (as he did in “Hairspray”).

But the best choice, nay, the perfect choice, is someone who is not quite as well known as those guys.

— VICTOR GARBER is probably best-known to television fans as Jennifer Garner’s father on “Alias” a few years ago, and today he plays the title character’s boss in the current TV series “Eli Stone” — in which he occasionally gets to show off his song-and- dance talent. And back in 1973, Garber’s first movie role was as Jesus in the musical “Godspell.” Plus, he just happens to be the same age as Streep.

Of course, there was another option for “Mamma Mia” producers. They could have dubbed Pierce Brosnan’s voice!

Is Marnie Nixon still available?

E-mail: hicks@desnews.com

(c) 2008 Deseret News (Salt Lake City). Provided by ProQuest Information and Learning. All rights Reserved.




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