'Rugrats' movie smelling like a lawsuit

Posted: June 11, 2003

Here comes a stinky Hollywood fight - the combatants are John Waters and Nickelodeon's cartoon franchise the Rugrats.

What has Waters' nose out of joint is that Rugrats Go Wild, an animated feature opening Friday, is being shown in "Odorama," with scratch-and-sniff cards to be smelled at key points in the action. For those with an olfactory remembrance of films past, Odorama was first used as part of Waters' 1981 black comedy Polyester and is a registered trademark.

Baltimore's king of camp says Nickelodeon and Paramount, partners on the film, didn't check with him first.

"They're calling it Odorama?" he said incredulously when contacted by the San Jose Mercury News. "I'm stupefied! That's a direct steal."

Later, after examining Nickelodeon's Odorama card, Waters said: "Can you believe it? They even copied our logo. That's all I can say for now. It's with my lawyer. . . . We'll see what happens."

Julia Pistor, 42, director of the Rugrats movie, said she and her crew were inspired by Polyester. "We loved that low-tech interactivity."

Waters, best known for Pink Flamingos and Hairspray, the movie that inspired the Tony-winning musical, recalls that his Odorama card had to be tested for insurance purposes, "in case somebody ate it." The Rugrats scents are described as non-allergenic but "not intended to be eaten."

The odorous argument isn't in court yet, but who knows?

Farewell, goodbye, so long . . .

Cher has been singing goodbye for months now, and there appears to be no stopping her. According to Billboard, her "Living Proof - the Farewell Tour" has been extended to late August.

That makes it a 12-month goodbye trek - and there are more cities still to be announced. Guess it takes her a while to make up her mind. She begins a two-night stand tonight at New York's Madison Square Garden and will be in Atlantic City on July 11; Wilkes-Barre on July 18; and Hershey, Pa., on July 26.

Another late-night talk show

If you thought the world would be a better place if there were another late-night TV talk show, we have good news for you: MTV has signed on Tom Green for the hour-long The New Tom Green Show, to air weeknights at midnight beginning June 23.

"The talk show with a twist is what Tom does best, and we're excited to be working with him again," said John Miller, MTV's executive vice president of series development and animation.

What the 31-year-old Green does best is, well, gross-out. He directed, wrote, and starred in the 2001 uber-gross-out fest Freddy Got Fingered, and he's credited for influencing the recent wave of prank TV shows such as Jackass and The Jamie Kennedy Experiment.

"I am extremely excited, extremely extremely extremely excited, very very very very extremely excited," Green said in a characteristic understatement.

He joins an already crowded field of young late-night talk-show hosts, including Jimmy Kimmel and Carson Daly. Green was married for less than a year to Drew Barrymore.

White Stripes fly here

The White Stripes, the much-ballyhooed Detroit-based back-to-basics garage band, will perform at Penn's Landing on July 25 and Aug. 10. Tickets for both shows go on sale at 10 a.m. Saturday at Ticketmaster locations. Call 215-336-2000 or 856-338-9000, or visit www.ticketmaster.com.

Big sales for Hillary

Living History, Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton's memoirs, sold more than 40,000 copies at Barnes & Noble stores Monday, setting a first-day sales record for nonfiction books, the company said yesterday. Publisher Simon & Schuster estimated national first-day sales at 200,000. Spokeswoman Victoria Meyer said 300,000 more books would be printed in addition to the one million already produced.

Cronkite returns - in print

Walter Cronkite, once considered the most trusted man in America, will write a weekly syndicated newspaper column beginning Aug. 3.

King Features Syndicate will distribute And That's the Way I See It . . . by Walter Cronkite. The former CBS News anchor and journalist, whose experience dates back to World War II, says his writings will include musings about President Bush's administration, the justice system, the 2004 elections, and the media.

He says he decided to do a column now because: "We all know the issues that today threaten a seismic change in this land we love: Our bellicose military policy, our arrogant foreign policy . . . our financial policy that many . . . economists believe threatens a national deficit deep into this century."

Rod, the musical

You know you've made it when they make your pop songs into a respectable stage play - in London, no less. Rod Stewart will have cause to celebrate this fall as 22 of his greatest hits will be sung on stage in the musical Tonight's the Night at the West End's Victoria Palace Theater.

The show, with a cast of 36, will begin previews Oct. 15 and open Nov. 6. It was written by Ben Elton, the dramatist responsible for turning Queen's oeuvre into the musical We Will Rock You.

The 57-year-old Stewart, who won't appear in the play, was ecstatic about the show. "It's going to run for 100 years - it will still be running when I'm the wrong side of the grass," he said.

Naked survivor

Survivor: Amazon winner Jenna Morasca has posed in the buff for Playboy's August issue, E!Online reports. Playboy would not say what the jungle babe was paid, but estimates run as high as $1 million. Also appearing in the feature is her Survivor buddy, Heidi Strobel, a physical education teacher from Missouri. The two went topless and bottomless - strategic parts were blurred - in the show's sixth installment.

Sick-bay report

Princeton-based architect and designer Michael Graves, 68, has contracted meningitis, which has resulted in lower-body paralysis, his office has announced.

Graves, best known for his line of housewares for the retail chain Target, contracted the disease in February and has been undergoing treatment in West Orange, N.J., his firm's director of communications said. She added that the designer would be returning to work and his home in Princeton this summer. Graves' designs include the Portland Building in Oregon; the Humana Building in Louisville, Ky.; and the Swan and Dolphin hotels in Disney World.

Sick-bay II

Due to illness, singer Will Downing has canceled his 7:30 p.m. performance tonight at the Kimmel Center. Performances by Downing's special guests, Gerald Albright and Maysa, also have been canceled. Ticket holders can call 215-893-1999 to exchange tickets for another performance.

Best song since 1978

VHl has picked Nirvana's "Smells Like Teen Spirit" as the best song of the past quarter-century. The Seattle band's groundbreaking grunge anthem, off their 1992 album Nevermind, is No. 1 on VH1's list of the "100 Greatest Songs of the Past 25 Years." Michael Jackson's "Billie Jean" grabbed the number-two spot. (Last year, Jackson's "Thriller" topped VH1's 100 greatest videos of all time, but it didn't even make the list this time.) The video music channel's countdown will air over five nights, starting at 10 p.m. Monday.

Contact Murray Dubin at 215-854-2797 or mdubin@phillynews.com.

The Los Angeles Times and Inquirer wire services contributed to this report.

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