AS GENIE, MOM HELPED GRANT SON'S WISH FOR `ALADDIN' ROLE

Providing the voice of the title character in Walt Disney Pictures' animated blockbuster ``Aladdin'' was a big career break for actor Scott Weinger - already familiar to TV viewers from a brief stint on ``Life Goes On'' and his regular role this season on ``Full House.''

But while Disney execs were impressed enough with the homemade audition tape Weinger made with his mother to offer him the part, it was her gregarious supporting role as the genie that nearly stole the show. (Don't you just hate it when moms do that?)

``She had envisioned the genie as kind of a hip, Jewish Brooklynite character,'' 17-year-old Weinger said at the Disney-MGM Studios in Orlando, where he was appearing in the park's ``Star Today'' program.

Of course, having such a talented mother has its disadvantages - such as the inevitable teasing Weinger received from his agent. ``He called us back and said, `We're a little bit disappointed with Scott, but everyone loved your mom.' If anything had happened to Robin, she definitely would have been the genie in waiting.''

While that arrangement would have been fun, Weinger has no complaints about the guy who eventually got the part. ``It was a big thrill for me to work with Robin Williams,'' the former Hollywood, Fla., resident said. ``When I was a kid, I used to carry around a `Mork & Mindy' egg that would break open to release a little Mork from Ork. So I've been a big fan for a long time.''

With a chiseled face, prominent eyebrows and coal-black hair, Weinger doesn't look too different from his animated alter ego. And, if you close your eyes, the voice is definitely Aladdin's - except for an impromptu impression of Gilbert Gottfried's Iago character. (Everyone at Disney seems to have one these days.) Weinger said he and Gottfried passed time during production breaks by hammering out plots for an ``Aladdin'' sequel - ones that wouldn't necessarily meet Disney's wholesome standards. Still, Weinger said the real fun was working with Williams, whose ultrahip genie cemented the film's cross-generational appeal.

Given his reputation for wit, it's not surprising that some of Williams' outrageous bits were left on the cutting-room floor. ``If he made an album of outtakes from the movie,'' Weinger said, ``it would go platinum.''

Hmmm ... Wonder if those Disney marketing people are listening? The kid could be on to something.

Written by Jim Abbott
for ST. PAUL PIONEER PRESS , January 5, 1993

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