Q: Why is it that celebrities feel they have to participate in the remake of popular and successful films (and television shows) when the remake is seldom, or ever, as good as the original? -- George Simeon, Arlington

A: Deja vu: This is a remake of last week's question (about why Steven Spielberg is compelled to redo "The War of the Worlds"), only now we shift from the arrogance of directors who wish to lay hands on a beloved classic and turn our thoughts to celebrity actors who, seemingly without fear of scorn or failure, take on the already-iconic characters of American pop. Did Mike Myers really need to be the Cat in the Hat? Was the world clamoring to see Jim Carrey as the Grinch? What possesses Nicole Kidman, fresh from the disastrous remake of "The Stepford Wives," to master Elizabeth Montgomery's nose-twitch for a starring role in next year's postmodern, big-screen retelling of "Bewitched"?

Actors assume there must be some fabulous reward ahead for having attached themselves to something so cherished: People will just love me as Fred Flintstone or the Manchurian candidate or Batman or Charlie's angel -- even more than they already do. Won't they? Won't they? (Usually they won't. The opening-day box office may turn out okay, but, over time, audiences retain a special scorn for character sacrilege.)

I can think of only one major celeb who has publicly and smartly shunned the chance to infringe on a trademark: Josh Hartnett was supposed to star in an upcoming "Superman" remake, perhaps until he got a look at himself in the costume. He fled. (So a different potential hard-body, no-name soap star, Brandon Routh, will don the cape in the film, slated for 2006.)

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