Stephen M. Silverman
October 08, 2002 12:00 PM

Hollywood’s most beloved nanny is about to be put in charge of one of pop culture’s most unlovable brats.

Julie Andrews, who won an Oscar for her movie debut as the magical, flying governess in 1964’s “Mary Poppins” and went on to star as another caretaker to children in one of the most popular movies of all time, 1965’s “The Sound of Music,” is now going to star in the ABC TV-movie versions of the hilarious kids’ classics “Eloise at the Plaza” (to be aired later this season) and “Eloise at Christmastime” (set for Christmas 2003).

The Hollywood Reporter says Kevin Lima (“102 Dalmatians”) will direct both films about the spectacularly mischievous 6-year-old who lived at New York’s Plaza Hotel and was immortalized in the 1950s books by Kay Thompson and illustrator Hilary Knight.

Andrews, 67, will play Nanny, the British guardian to Eloise. Nine-year-old newcomer Sofia Vassilieva (“The Brady Bunch in the White House”) has been cast in the title role in the films, according to the trade paper.

Eloise is enjoying a true revival these days. Her creator, the legendary Thompson (movie buffs can catch her cavorting onscreen with Audrey Hepburn and Fred Astaire in 1957’s “Funny Face,” though she was best known as the behind-the-scenes vocal coach for Judy Garland and Lena Horne) died in 1998, after having locked up the rights to “Eloise” decades before.

But her estate has freed them up — much to the delight of the still thriving Knight — and this month, after 40 years of being locked in a closet, a long-dormant Eloise adventure, “Eloise Takes a Bawth,” is finally being published. Early reviews have been glowing.

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