Release Date: September 25, 2009

Movie of the Day for Thursday, April 23, 2009
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 You always see people dancing on cars, you know. Must be summer.

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108/169 Max Braden The near-documentary style was an interesting approach, but as a result I felt no connection to the characters at all.

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Apparently, with Fame, you really can live forever and Debbie Allen aims to prove it. 2009 will bring a remake of the 1980 film, in which she had a cameo role that was expanded to the starring role of the subsequent TV series it spawned. The series ran a surprisingly long five years, so there is obviously some appeal to this High School Musical predecessor.

Along the same lines as the “reimagining” phase of horror films over the last few years, the musical genre seems to be just as fertile remake ground. Likely, this is driven by the desire to duplicate the $118+ million gross of 2007’s Hairspray, a fellow musical remake.

Reportedly and expectedly, this latest version of Fame will follow the same plot as the original's by focusing on the students and faculty of the New York City High School of Performing Arts. Outbursts of song-and-dance will assuredly ensue.

The film also serves as a de facto reunion. Not only does it reunite the aforementioned Allen with her most notable credit (but as a different character), it brings back together Drs. Frasier and Lilith Crane. That’s right both Kelsey Grammer and Bebe Neuwirth will star as an orchestra conductor and dance teacher, respectively. In addition, two other former sitcom actors will be faculty members, Will and Grace’s Megan Mullaly and Roc’s Charles S. Dutton. Including Allen, who is a renowned choreographer, each of these actors has some experience with the performing arts outside of TV and film, so they seem to be well-cast here.

As far as the students are concerned, they are relative newcomers with very few acting credits to their names. They include a semi-recurring Hannah Montana actor (Anna Maria Perez de Tagle), Lil' Kim from Notorious (Naturi Naughton), and two frequently-employed television actors that both appeared in the pilot for Fox’s Lie to Me (Kay Panabaker and Johanna Braddy).

Behind the camera, there is just as little by way of recognizable names. Fame will be the feature film directing debut for Kevin Tancharoen. Like so many before him, Tancharoen cut his teeth on music videos, which might actually be quite useful to this type of film. Aline Brosh McKenna, one of the co-writers, was responsible for adapting the book The Devil Wears Prada for the screen and writing 27 Dresses. Combined, those two films grossed $200 million, so McKenna seems to be able to write screenplays to appeal to mass audiences. Co-writer Allison Burnett has not seen has much success for his screenplays, which include most notably Untraceable, Resurrecting the Champ and Autumn in New York. Burnett is also a producer for this film, just as he was for Stick It (2006).

So, come opening day, we will see if the audiences will line up like they did for Hairspray and Mamma Mia! or ignore it like the reality competition series of the same name in 2003, which Allen was also involved with. (Daron Aldridge/BOP)

Vital statistics for Fame
Main Cast Megan Mullally, Kelsey Grammer, Charles S. Dutton
Supporting Cast Naturi Naughton, Kay Panabaker, Kherington Payne, Collins Pennie, Walter Perez, Anna Maria Perez de Tagle, Kristy Flores, Paul Iacono, Paul McGill, Bebe Neuwirth, Debbie Allen
Director Kevin Tancharoen
Screenwriter Allison Burnett, Aline Brosh McKenna
Distributor MGM
Talent in red has entry in The Big Picture



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