Madonna pipped by another Evita

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The Independent Online
So is it a premiere or not? When Madonna flies into London this week for what is being dubbed as the "international" premiere of Evita, she won't be the first to be seen playing Argentina's former first lady.

Eva Peron, the Argentinian version, minus tuneful ditties, has been playing to packed theatres in Buenos Aires for weeks. An Argentinian producer rushed out the local movie after an outcry in the South American city over Madonna's film.

Although some say it's a lot closer to the truth than the movie musical by Andrew Lloyd Webber and Alan Parker, local director Juan Carlos Desanzo has hardly produced an objective portrait. He was influenced by the fact that his working-class parents were beneficiaries of the Eva Peron Foundation - an organisation set up by the then wife of dictator Juan Peron to help the poor, or win votes, depending on how you look at it.

While the Madonna version picks up the Eva Peron story as the struggling actress starts sleeping her way to the top, the Argentine version, starring a previously little-known local actress Esther Goris, concentrates on her last couple of years before she died of cancer aged 33.

While Madonna sings "Don't Cry for Me Argentina" on the balcony of the Casa Rosada itself, Ms Goris was forced to shoot her key scene - a textual version of a rousing Eva Peron speech - on the less photogenic balcony of the Argentine Ministry of Public Works.

It seems everyone wants a slice of Evita. In London, Evita hype has begun with the first merchandising arriving in the shops. Make-up giant Estee Lauder is launching The Face of Evita - a range inspired by the film.

After the premiere on Thursday there is a gala party co-sponsored by Salvatore Ferragamo, the designer who made shoes for Evita. In honour of the film they have re-created a pair of Evita's favourite sandals, which can be made to order.

Eva Peron, a sentimental biography from by Argentine journalist Alicia Dujovne Ortiz, will be published on 3 January, while a week later Santa Evita a novelised version of the life by Tomas Eloy Martinez, will hit the shops. Not to mention a picture book on the making of the film by director Alan Parker, out on 10 January, and the top 40 album out since October. Don't cry for the money men.

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