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To avoid the XML parser attempting to parse your HTML node as part of the XML data, you should use a CDATA node
The following thread is as2 related, not as3, but it will show you what a CDATA node looks like. If you need more info, just google it.
If you include valid flash html inside a CDATA node, including links etc they should work when you assign it to the htmlText property of the textfield.
To answer your second question....no I think you would need to layer that shape behind your textfield and textfields only have a rectangular shape.
second question: i think it is possible to let flash temporairy convert the textbox into an bitmap and then you are able to turn everything around. and if you put everything in a container you're able to make an bitmap and then you can rotait everything. I've never try it, but i think it will work.
You don't need to turn the textfield into a bitmap in order to rotate it etc. You can achieve all the regular flash effects with a textfield (if the fonts are embedded). That's no problem.
But you can't have (for example) a different shaped textfield (e.g. circular to match the outline of a sphere) and expect dynamic text inside it to word-wrap to the boundaries of the new shape (for example a circle). At least no way that I'm aware of, but I'm less familiar with as3. Perhaps with enhanced text metric information in as3 you could create a class that extended textfield and did something to achieve that. by hard line breaks (and maintaining a reference to them to update when things change and return 'clean' results for text and htmlText properties when accessed externally) ...I dunno.
I thought that the nature of the original request was more to do with having text behave appropriately (e.g. word-wrap) within a shape other than a rectangle.