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Danes' So-Called Display
by Tom Roe (Newsday)

Publicity blurbs are touting "William Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet" as a fresh look at the classic script, updated to include cross-dressing, teen sex and drugs. While only the latest intoxicants are new to Shakespeare (male actors played all of the original parts in the London debut, which included a sex scene), this year's version will have a naked Juliet, 17-year-old Claire Danes.

Publicists for the 20th Century Fox film due this fall from director Baz Luhrmann won't promise Danes' feature debut will bare all. They admit only that "Romeo and Juliet" does have a scene where the couple consummate their love and that Danes was naked when that scene was filmed in Mexico recently. They won't say, though, how the film will be edited.

Hollywood's exploitation of young women is nothing new. If Danes, the star of the TV sitcom "My So-Called Life," is disrobed by Romeo, played by Leonard DiCaprio, she'll join the ranks of a few now-famous young actresses who have had controversial roles. Brooke Shields (in "Pretty Baby," as a 12-year-old prostitute, and in "Blue Lagoon," as a youngster stranded on an island, discovering sexuality with her young brother), Jodie Foster (in 1976's "Taxi Driver") and Juliette Lewis (in 1991's "Cape Fear") gave some of the most talked-about underage performances. Then there was Drew Barrymore, the bad girl in "Poison Ivy."

© 1996, Newsday, Inc.