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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

WORLD BEAT: Roberto Benigni to Play Pinocchio

ROME -- After resting on his "Life Is Beautiful'' laurels for two years, Roberto Benigni is about to play what he calls the role of his life: A puppet with a cricket for a conscience.

Italian media said Wednesday that "Pinocchio'' will feature the same winning formula as "Life Is Beautiful'' f Benigni costarring with spouse Nicoletta Braschi and Benigni co-writing with longtime collaborator Vincenzo Cerami. The exuberant Benigni, whose antics over his dual wins captivated Oscar audiences in 1999, often compares himself to Pinocchio, whose nose grew longer every time he lied.

He even fell into guilty-conscience character at a Vatican screening of "Life Is Beautiful'' for Pope John Paul II last year. "Dad! Dad!'' Benigni cried, grabbing the elderly pontiff and kissing him.

"It's been 20 years, or maybe ever since I was born, that I had a desire that my nose would grow long,'' Benigni told the ANSA news agency in typically madcap "Benigni speak.''

"I don't know yet how I'll do it, at what hour, with what colors, with what sky, with what cats, foxes, moles and lizards, but to be Pinocchio in this next movie shakes me with happiness, such a huge satisfaction that if I could only share 0.4 percent, or even 0.2 percent, it would make the whole living, breathing world happy. Pinocchio! What beauty!''