"Thailand takes royalty extremely seriously as a stabilizing influence," says TIME correspondent William Dowell. "Anything that diminishes the king's authority -- such as a Hollywood portrayal -- will be taken as a threat." Media experience in Thailand suggests Fox has chosen wisely: A Thai newspaper editor once spent days in prison for innocently using the idiom "In the land of the blind, the one-eyed man is king." He'd forgotten that Thailand's current king has only one eye.
Shall we dance? Not in Siam, Jodie. Malaysia becomes the new location for the remake of "The King and I" after 20th Century Fox gave up trying to get its script passed by Thailand's Film Board. Thailand has never shown the original version starring Yul Brynner as the 19th century monarch King Mongkut -- it was banned for portraying him as a brutal despot. Thai officials showed no greater appetite for seeing Hong Kong action star Chow Yun Fat play the king in a remake opposite Jodie Foster's Anna Leonowens.