Kenny Ortega

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By the time 1993 rolled around, Tim Burton already had projects like Pee-wee’s Big Adventure, Beetlejuice, and Edward Scissorhands under his belt, and had firmly established himself as an auteur director of quirky, weird films. It was probably that year’s The Nightmare Before Christmas – a movie that Burton produced and didn’t even direct – that firmly established him as being a filmmaker with a cult of personality following, and has become his most enduring work, however. A stop-motion animated feature directed by Henry Selick (with strong creative input from Burton) and produced by Disney’s Touchstone Pictures, The Nightmare Before Christmas mixed up Halloween and Christmas imagery in iconic ways (Mickey Mouse has his fingers in all the holiday pies), it captured the imaginations of an entire generation, and it can still be seen advertised all over the backpacks and binders of eyeliner wearing teenagers to this day. That same year another Halloween-themed family film came out of another wing of the Disney conglomerate called Hocus Pocus. But, despite that fact that it starred a trio of actresses who were fairly big names at the time, it hasn’t enjoyed nearly as much attention over the years as Nightmare. And, unless you happen to be a devotee of the movie Newsies (which I know some of you are), chances are you’ve never heard of its director, Kenny Ortega. Sure, Hocus Pocus still gets played on the Disney channel around Halloween every year, as it’s probably cheap programming for the company, but […]

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If the attachment of High School Musical director Kenny Ortega to Lionsgate’s “musical reimagining” of Dirty Dancing didn’t clue you into the type of movie the studio is trying to make, then the film’s latest screenwriter certainly will. Here’s a hint – this thing looks to be going right for the teen-buck. Variety reports that Glee co-creator Brad Falchuk has been hired to rewrite the film’s script as first written by Maria Maggenti. While we don’t know too much beyond that this new film will likely hedge to the side of “inspired by” the Patrick Swayze and Jennifer Grey-starring new classic, we do know that it will “incorporate classic songs from the 1960s, hits from the original film and brad new compositions.” So, pretty much what Glee does (and not nearly as well as it used to) every week? You know it. For the sake of the project, let’s just hope Zac Efron is available for the new school take on the Johnny Castle role, because it would be pretty surprising if Ortega went after anyone else.

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A few weeks back, the inevitable happened – Lionsgate announced that they were tangoing and jitterbugging and some other type of dancing that no one does anymore right back into the Dirty Dancing fold with a remake of the smash eighties hit. But before fans could throw themselves into corners or off charming little Catskills bridges, Lionsgate also announced that Kenny Ortega, the original choreographer, had signed on as director. When the remake was first chattered about, way back in 2009, Lionsgate announced that Julia Dahl (Uptown Girls) would be scripting it, but with no attachment of Dahl’s name to the Ortega announcement, a new writer seemed inevitable. And now we know who she is – Maria Maggenti. Who? Maggenti’s resume is, in one word, bizarre. But bizarre in the way that it’s hard to get a feel for what sort films Maggenti is best suited to pen – there’s just no broad, sweeping generalizations we can draw from it (what a pickle). Maggenti most recently wrote the screenplay for Monte Carlo – but with no less than three other people contributing to a film adaption of a novel written by another person altogether. That’s five cooks in the kitchen. Even if Maggenti had a more established career and trademark style, it would still be hard to pin down her exact contributions to the film and how that will translate to this new Dirty Dancing.

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We’ve known that Lionsgate was setting up a remake for Dirty Dancing since 2009, but after announcing that they’d hired Julia Dahl (Uptown Girl) to pen the script, news went dry. But, as is the case with any even somewhat viable property (blood from stones, the usual), it looks like we’re still getting that remake, with the news that Lionsgate has picked Kenny Ortega to direct the film. Dirty Dancing geeks (there have to be some, right? Like, all women everywhere?) will surely note that it was Ortega himself who actually choreographed the original film from 1987, and is the one credited with conceiving of the actual ahem, dirt, of said dirty dancing. Thank you for that, Kenny Ortega. He also directed two episodes of the Dirty Dancing television show from 1988 that nearly everyone has forgotten existed, which is tragic, because it starred no less than Melora Hardin (The Office) and Paul Feig (Bridesmaids). The show lasted 11 episodes, but I’d cut off my own two feet to get it on DVD.

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Craig Brewer

According to Variety, Craig Brewer (of Hustle and Flow and Black Snake Moan acclaim) will be jumping on to direct and rewrite Paramount’s Footloose remake. Brewer will start casting immediately for a summer shooting start.

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Fat Guys at the Movies

Kevin and Neil meet up in the Magical Studio in the Sky to have a Fat Guy Smackdown to beat all Fat Guy Smackdowns. While they don’t come to odds so much with A Serious Man, they certainly disagree about Michael Jackson’s This Is It.

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ThisIsIt

This Is It is a stunning look at something that’s both epic and personal. Beautiful. Thrilling. Revealing. This film is a great documentary that delivers a larger-than-life figure in his natural environment as both a mega-celebrity and just a man standing alone on a stage.

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Zac Efron and Vanessa Hudgens

If the thought of High School Musical makes your stomach turn, you’ll want to avoid this film. However, the movie speaks directly to its demographic and doesn’t try to be something it’s not.

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