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Dakota Fanning is bigger than the Beatles. Are we overstating her current popularity? We are not. When Richard Gere abandons the Dalai Lama to follow young Fanning around, finding her rare combination of preadolescent gravitas and lack of oppressive moralizing refreshing, you will thank us for the advance notice. To wit: The LAT's Richard Rushfield, blogging from the Hollywood Film Festival, discovers that her devoted fans will stake out the ArcLight Cinema just on the chance that she'll make an appearance and grace them with her 'tween John Hancock:

I approach one man sitting on the concrete ledge that wraps around the theater's exterior and ask who he is waiting for. "Dakota Fanning," he mutters, not looking at me. She is apparently, half-expected (no one seems to be absolutely sure she's coming) for the screening of the newly English-dubbed version of Hayao Miyazaki's "My Neighbor Totoro." I ask my new friend how much a Dakota Fanning autograph is worth. "I wouldn't know," he almost spits at me. "I don't sell them. I'm a collector." He tells me that he spends his weekends going out in search of celebrity autographs and the festival presents a rare opportunity where you're not behind a protective line, that is, if she doesn't go in through the secret underground entrance through the garage. "However," he concedes, "I can be a little weird running after a ten year old."

Proving his point, a few minutes later, I see from a distance a woman and a young blonde girl walking into the theater. All of a sudden someone yells, "Dakota" and pivoting on a spring action, ten middle-aged men leap half a step towards this little girl before they realize it is not Herself. The young girl and the woman, extremely freaked out by the moment, hurry inside.

Alas, the Real Dakota never showed. But she'd never be "extremely freaked out" by such a scene, knowing that at the slightest sign of potential harm, a dozen ArcLight enforcers employees with badges reading "Favorite Movie: My Own Mother's Snuff Film" would descend upon the interlopers and violently neutralize the threat. After these security screenings, she's always more than happy to scribble her exquisite, eBay-ready signature for any survivors.

[This post concludes Dakota N' Elmo day on Defamer. We think.]