A row has broken out between Andrew Lloyd Webber, producer Joel Schumacher and fans of Michael Crawford over the decision to cast Gerard Butler in the film version of THE Phantom Of The Opera.

Crawford, 61, created the role of the Phantom on the British stage, and fans are up in arms with producer Schumacher for his passing over Crawford in favour of LARA CROFT TOMB RAIDER: THE CRADLE OF LIFE hunk Butler, 33, in the big-screen adaptation.

However, Schumacher insists he isn't the man to blame.

In a statement, Schumacher says, "The decision not to use Michael Crawford is Lloyd Webber's and his alone.

"All friends and fans of Crawford should please tell everyone from me. If you care to write to Lloyd Webber, it's at the REALLY USEFUL COMPANY in London."

21/08/2003 13:22