Aaliyah character recasting causes a Stir

Meanwhile, directors Andy and Larry Wachowski and producer Joel Silver are grappling with whether to recast Aaliyah as Zee in “The Matrix Reloaded,” the highly anticipated sequel to their 1999 blockbuster “The Matrix.”

The filmmakers remain tight-lipped about their secret project. Silver, through a studio spokeswoman, declines to discuss how they will deal with Zee. A decision to recast the role of Zee would be a sensitive undertaking if, for no other reason, than any false step could alienate her fans.

Indeed, the pressure on the studio is already evident by a petition by some of fans posted on the Internet. The petition, addressed to Warner Bros., states:

“In the wake of the tragic death of R&B Singer/Actress Aaliyah, Warner Bros. is rumored to be cutting the scenes Aaliyah has already filmed for [‘The Matrix Reloaded’] and recasting the role. We would like to urge WB to honor the memory of Aaliyah’s life and keep her scenes …. ”

While certain scenes have already been shot in the U.S., filming is scheduled to resume in Australia today). Silver told The Times shortly after Aaliyah’s death that the actress was not scheduled to go before the cameras until late October.

The mere possibility that such a choice part might be recast obviously has Hollywood’s agents and managers primed.

“The reality is, there’s a role available that a girl who was on her way to superstardom [was going to do],” said veteran manager Dolores Robinson. “Somebody is going to get that job. I don’t think there is anything wrong with this. It’s not a wait-and-see business. It’s a business where you have to make decisions quickly.”

Warner Bros. had big plans for Aaliyah. After “Queen of the Damned” and “The Matrix” sequel, the studio hoped to cast her in an updated remake of the 1976 musical “Sparkle.”

Aaliyah and her mother had each read the script, studio officials said, and Aaliyah was passionate about playing the lead role of a young singer in a girl group like Destiny’s Child, who steps forward and becomes a singing sensation.