Whoopi Goldberg has enraged fans of recently deceased salsa queen CELIA CRUZ by revealing her plans to portray the Cuban singer in a new movie.

New York's Cuban community is outraged because Goldberg is black, while Cruz - who died on 16 July (03) - was Latina.

LATINOMIX radio station host Celines Toribio fumes, "Whoopi doesn't sing and she's not Latina. For you to portray a life like Celia Cruz, you have to have that Latina flavour."

More than 140,000 people attended Cruz's funeral last week (22JUL03), and the sudden news of the Goldberg film has struck an ill chord with her legions of fans.

But the Rat Race actress owns the rights to the Cruz story, having negotiated the agreement with the singer herself.

Goldberg replies, "To see a rich, dark, chocolate woman in command of thousands of people with her voice and her energy helped me believe that anything is possible."

BAFTA-winner Samuel L Jackson is tipped to play Cruz's husband PEDRO KNIGHT.

28/07/2003 17:31