The Cat in the Hat: Melinda Sue Gordon
August 14, 2003 at 04:00 AM EDT

The good news is, if ”The Cat in the Hat” doesn’t work out, producer Brian Grazer (”How the Grinch Stole Christmas”) has a bright future selling real estate. He’s already drummed up interest in the ersatz neighborhood built in California’s Simi Valley, patterned on the 2-D suburbia of Theodor Geisel’s 1957 kid-lit classic. ”You could see it from the highway. I had people ask me if they could buy a house there,” says Grazer of his idyll. ”They’d say, ‘Oh, my God! I want to live there! It’s like a model community!”’ And they were right, of course: It was a model. ”It would be like living in ‘Edward Scissorhands,”’ the mogul muses.

It’s a good thing Grazer likes the world he and director Bo Welch have created, because he’s spending a little more time there than perhaps he’d originally intended: ”Cat,” which wrapped principal photography six months ago, was filming again in late July. ”It’s not reshoots. We’re adding additional footage,” says Grazer. ”We’re just trying to get more comedy into the movie in an organic fashion.”

In this case, ”an organic fashion” means getting star Mike Myers back into his cat suit to incarnate yet another version of the feline anarchist, a ”peace-lovin’ hippie cat.” It’s just one of many variations Myers explores by donning (in the ”Austin Powers” tradition) a slew of wild costumes. But under all his many guises, the Cat is, at bottom…a New Yorker? ”It’s not Linda Richman,” Grazer says of the Cat’s voice. ”It’s an urban, kinda New York sound. You never know…. This cat doesn’t necessarily have to come from California.”

If Myers’ Cat comes from anywhere, it’s left field. ”Sometimes you read the script and when Mike gets there, it’s totally different,” says 9-year-old Dakota Fanning (”Uptown Girls”), who plays Sally Walden. For any deprived children and adults out there who haven’t read the book, Sally and brother Conrad, played by Spencer Breslin (”Disney’s The Kid”), are left home on a rainy day and are rowdily entertained by a mysterious man-size cat; problem is, Mom (Kelly Preston) has left strict instructions that the house remain spotless.

Fat chance. ”We got to jump literally 60 feet in the air,” says Breslin of a scene where a couch becomes a supercharged trampoline. ”And we got to hop over 15-foot fences. Which is kind of cool because back home in New York, you can’t hop over fences because they have barbed wire on top.” Guess that explains why the Cat moved to Cali in the first place.

The Killer Moment The Cat, to the tune of Marc Shaiman and Scott Wittman’s ”Fun, Fun, Fun,” transforms into many, many, many different characters.

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