Lionsgate Picks New Screenwriter for ‘Dirty Dancing’ Remake

By  · Published on August 31st, 2011

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 Carlobut 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.

While her work on Monte Carlo may make it easy to pigeon-hole her as some sort of tween writer (penning an episode of 90210only furthers this case), Maggenti has also written a number of episodes of Without a Trace, along with writing two more adult romance features ‐ Puccini for Beginners (which she also directed) and The Love Letter. She has also reportedly written an adaption of Before I Fall (Lauren Oliver’s young adult novel about a girl who, essentially, wakes up dead) and is completing work on My Name is Memory (from Ann Brashares’ novel of the same name). The only thing her resume does tell us with any sort of finality is that Maggenti has never written a dance film. And that she likes adapting books. Which basically tells us nothing about what her take on Dirty Dancing may be.

Yet, Maggenti’s recent work on Monte Carlo is reportedly what landed her the job, and Ortega’s success directing the High School Musical films does mean that a lot of tween-friendly talent is behind the camera on this one. Does that mean that they’ll be in front of it, too? [Deadline Larvotto]