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I'm no fat tum of the opera; Star rejects role after producers ask her to slim down.

Byline: STEVE BAGNALL

TEENAGE star Charlotte Church turned down a role in big budget movie Phantom Of The Opera - because the makers wanted her to lose weight.

The 17-year- old chart star said she was told to slim down even to audition for a role,despite her global fame.

In an interview for style magazine The Face, which is out today , she said she was constantly being told she did not get roles because of her size.

``I won't fit into their ideals because I think it's really wrong.

``I think if I'd just fitted in with everything that everybody told me to I would've been in rehab when I was 12.''

Church has been styled as a vamp for the magazine and is the cover star.

She has already made one film,I'll Be There, which she says is ``cute''.

But she pointed out that she had refused the Phantom film, which is to star Antonio Banderas,and is based on the Lloyd Webber musical.

``They're saying even if I wanna audition, I've gotta lose a few pounds.

``So I said, `Bugger off then'.I get it all the time,calls from the management in LA saying, `We're not getting adverts and major film parts cos you're too big'.''

Church, who won last year's Rear Of The Year title when she was 16, said:``Yeah,my bottom is a bit big but I'm happy with myself. As long as I can sing it doesn't matter about the fame,it's disposable.

``I won't conform to the crap.'' The multi-million-selling singer also spoke about how her mother Maria no longer had a guiding role in her career.

``You know what mothers and daughters are like - she was `I think you should do this, I think you should do that',and I'd be `Aw mum.Muuum.' I wanted to try and be independent.''

Speaking about her boyfriend Steve Johnson,Church said:``He's really, really good to me and we never argue.''

Charlotte tomorrow becomes the youngest star to host the satirical TV comedy show Have I Got News For You.

Charlotte will cross verbal swords with team captains Paul Merton and Ian Hislop where the aim is not to win but score the most laughs answering questions on current affairs.

Charlotte is the latest in a line of top celebrities to take over as host including Clive Anderson,William Hague and Martin Clunes since the departure of Angus Deayton.

She has appeared on the hit comedy show before as a contestant on Paul Merton's side,impressing the programme makers. The sexy pictures of Charlotte in The Face are a far cry from the innocent girl who made her name as a child prodigy opera singer.

``Charlotte was approached to do the pictures as a concept. But I can assure you it is not her new image,'' said a spokeswoman for the singer. Charlotte will be entitled to her pounds 16m fortune when she turns 18 on February 21 next year. At the moment she receives an allowance of pounds 150 per week.

In a newspaper interview she was reported to have said:``I like it like that,it keeps me normal,grounded.There's no money to grub off me. If I was going round with loads of money I wouldn't be able to live as I do now. People would scrounge off me, look at me in a different way. Life wouldn't be as relaxed.''

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CAPTION(S):

Charlotte Church,as she appears in The Face magazine, was told to lose weight if she wanted a part in The Phantom Of The Opera; Picture: SLVE SUNDSB
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Publication:Daily Post (Liverpool, England)
Date:May 8, 2003
Words:607
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