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Dunst as Harry? The abuse begins

April 15, 2007|Chris Lee | Times Staff Writer

YOU'D never have guessed what the story was really about from its headline.

Establishing little more than that "Spider-Man" costar Kirsten Dunst will portray Blondie lead singer Deborah Harry in an upcoming biopic -- and that bloggers have posted snippy remarks about her not being suitably edgy or vampy for the part -- the headline in the London Daily Express nonetheless declared recently: "Dunst Blasts Fans Who Doubt Her Debbie."

The next day, stories proclaiming "Dunst Hits Back Over Deborah Harry Criticism," hit the wires, appearing on some 20 dozen websites and in publications as far away as India.

All that "blasting" and "hitting," however, boils down to a single utterance that could hardly be characterized as fightin' words. "Debbie chose me for this role, so anyone who disputes this can take it up with her," Dunst told the Express, a quote picked up by the other articles. "I'll work hard on this character because she is the coolest woman of all time."

In an interview with Reuters last month, Dunst, 24, explained that when she met the Blondie singer in Miami, the two New Jersey-ites "hit it off." (Harry declined to comment for this article.)

According to Dunst's publicist, Stephen Huvane, the biopic has no completed script or start date. And although Oscar-winning "Science of Sleep" writer-director Michel Gondry has been touted as a front-runner to direct, no one is committed yet. "Blondie herself has suggested Kirsten for the role and she is beyond flattered by it," Huvane said in an e-mail, apparently unaware that Blondie is a band, and Harry one of its members.

Nonetheless, fans of the CBGB (the legendary punk club in New York) stalwart and indie style icon -- whose music with Blondie mashed-up rock, reggae, hip-hop and torch songs, and whose post-punk ingenue image remains a defining touchstone of the '70s -- haven't been shy about voicing their complaints.

Dunst's casting is a "Dumb Blondie choice," according to the World of Wonder website. "The Girl Next Door" star Elisha Cuthbert seems to be the sentimental choice among many Blondie chat room denizens (while others are lobbying for actresses including Christina Ricci, Gina Gershon and Debi Mazar to take the role). And a poster on the indie music blog stereogum.com, meanwhile, made his attack scathingly personal. "Dunst is a troll with disgusting teeth," he wrote.

Huvane declined to respond directly, noting that " those who would oppose a casting choice are more likely to post on the 'Net."

Little Metallica

is so darn cute

METALLICA. The word conjures images of heavy-metal thunder and, more specifically, the double-bass drum propelled fury of rock's most commercially successful headbanger band. But as a name for a baby girl? The Swedish National Tax Board says, "No way."

The board (Sweden's Social Security equivalent) rejected a couple's application to name their 6-month-old daughter Metallica last month, explaining that the name's association with the download-hating rock 'n' roll storm troopers and "metal" were unacceptable.

"It suits her," mom Karolina Tomaro protested to the Associated Press. "She's decisive and knows what she wants."

Apparently, so does the board, which requested the Tomaros' request this month (even though, they pointed out, a woman in Sweden legally lists Metallica as her middle name).

Still faced with the task of naming their little Iron Maiden, the parents might consider these other rock act monikers:

* Pantera or Sepultura. One evokes minx-ish forcefulness and the other, a certain Satanic majesty. Added value: Either name could lay the groundwork for a career in porn, lucha libre or thrash metal.

* Mastodon. Although it doesn't exactly roll off the tongue, the name could work for a youngster with a healthy ego or morbid obesity issues.

Honorable mentions:

* Wolfmother. Viable if the Tomaros are tree huggers or leather wristband wearers

* Queensryche. For that blue-blooded, sinister (thanks to the umlaut) heavy metal je ne sais quoi.

There's a reason for the similarities

THE song is a sunny yet melancholy meditation on returning home to the Golden State that recalls both '60s Brit pop and the Beach Boys. But it's not "California," the Phantom Planet single that plays beneath the title credits of the recently canceled Fox teen drama "The O.C." -- even if both songs have more than a few unmistakable similarities. The single in question is "West Coast," a recently released pop confection by an outfit calling itself Coconut Records.

The songs' common thread? Aside from an ambivalent affection for the Left Coast, both are the work of actor-musician Jason Schwartzman. The indie actor (whose filmography includes "Marie Antoinette," "Shopgirl" and "Rushmore") co-founded Phantom Planet when he was 14 and was its drummer and co-songwriter until amicably parting ways with bandmates three years ago.

Coconut Records has remained something of a secret identity for the "Rushmore" star -- he hasn't done any publicity for the project yet -- but its music is already available online at iTunes, eMusic and Rhapsody, among other outlets. A physical version of its album "Nighttiming" is coming on Young Baby Records in June. Fans can hear three tracks at www.myspace.com/coconutrecords.

chris.lee@latimes.com

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