You Must Cast Me

We haven't seen such brazen lobbying for a role since Sean Young pranced around the David Letterman set dressed as Catwoman. (For naught--Michelle Pfeiffer did the hissing in "Batman.") Madonna wants the world to view her as ideal for the part of Hatsumomo, the malevolent courtesan in Arthur Golden's 1997 bestseller, "Memoirs of a Geisha."

Does the studio envision the singer-actress as the lead in a "Geisha" adaptation? "The answer is, 'No.' Madonna is not being considered for a role," says a blunt spokeswoman for Columbia Pictures, which is producing the Steven Spielberg-directed film. Perhaps he would reconsider, though, if he knew just how much the part means to her. To wit:

* "Sometimes I think that what I do is like being a modern-day geisha."--Madonna, above, dressed in full courtesan garb, in the February Harper's Bazaar.

* After showing up at this year's Grammys in a cherry red kimono, she performed a Kabuki-style dance. To prepare, "she read a number of books on geisha culture and worked her way through the geisha-themed films of Kenji Mizoguchi."--Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

* She wore a black obi-style belt over a Versace outfit at this year's MTV Europe Awards.

* "Madonna has become obsessed with my book and has changed her look."--Arthur Golden, in the Providence Journal Bulletin.

* On her "Nothing Really Matters" video shoots, in which she plays a character inspired by Golden's courtesan, people reportedly called her Hatsumomo--a lot.

* She is listed as "Hatsu" on the call sheet for her current film, "The Next Best Thing," and her director's chair on the set is printed with "Hatsumomo." "There are people in her entourage who might say, 'Oh, you're being very Hatsumomo today.' There will always be a place for Hatsumomo in her heart."--Liz Rosenberg, Warner Bros. Records vice president.

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