Curious What’s Up With the Remake of FAME?

     August 17, 2008

Back in early June, I posted an exclusive interview with the director of the “Fame” remake, Kevin Tancharoen. In the pretty extensive interview, Kevin told me all of his ideas for the movie in terms of casting, locations and even the way he wanted to shoot the remake. After speaking with him, I’ll admit to being a lot more excited about the project.

But since that interview, not much info has been released and with summer slowly ending…I’d been wondering if the project had been delayed.

Thankfully, I recently participated in a roundtable interview with Lakeshore President/Producer Gary Lucchesi and he gave us a huge update on the project. Here’s some of the highlights:

  • they’re going to shoot the movie this November
  • the students will all be unknowns but some of the teachers we’ll recognize
  • the budget is around $25-30 million
  • they’re going to film in New York and the interiors in Los Angeles
  • it’s set today
  • All new songs except they’re going to use the Fame song

And if you’re curious for more on the “Fame” remake, there is a lot more info in the interview below. As always, you can either read the transcript or listen to the audio by clicking here. The remake of “Fame” is scheduled to be released September 25, 2009. Thanks to Mirko and Ed Douglas at Coming Soon for the release date info.

Finally, if you missed what Gary said about “Crank: High Voltage” and “Game,” click here.

Question: I wanted to know what’s going on with “Fame”?

Gary Lucchesi: We start shooting it November—mid-November.

Oh so it’s definitely still moving?

Gary Lucchesi: Oh yeah. We’re testing actors tomorrow…Monday.

I was going to say he said they were going to try to cast the summer and are you still going to film in NYC?

Gary Lucchesi: We’re going to film in New York and the interiors in Los Angeles.

And saying mid-November, we keep hearing that the studios don’t want to start movies until the actors thing is settled…

Gary Lucchesi: We’re going to start this one.

Will you get a waiver if…?

Gary Lucchesi: We’re going to start this one. We’re gonna start it.

Kevin (the director of the FAME remake) talked about wanting to cast unknowns.

Gary Lucchesi: Yeah, mostly unknowns. The teacher’s will be known but the kids will be unknowns.

Anybody from the first one?

Gary Lucchesi: No. No.

None of the teachers, the kids there?

Gary Lucchesi: Not that I can think of.

And I’ll do one other question. What other projects are you guys working on besides “Fame” and the upcoming feature especially with this whole question mark with the strike?

Gary Lucchesi: Well, we’ve got “Ugly Truth” that we’re doing. That’s coming out next April. That’s actually Jerry Butler and Katherine Heigl as well and Robert Luketic directed and that’s finished. And we’re working on a movie called, “The Lincoln Lawyer” a Michael Connelly project.

And who’s starring in that?

Gary Lucchesi: Can’t say yet.

Why not?

Gary Lucchesi: No, I can’t say yet.

It was a best seller. That’s like his best book.

Gary Lucchesi: It’s fantastic.

I think the last time I interviewed Tom he talked very passionately about that project.

Gary Lucchesi: Yeah, we’re going to start it early next year.

Is that the other project or is there anything else you guys are…?

Gary Lucchesi: That’s the one—that and “Fame” are the 2 and then we’re working on a couple of other….you saw about “Thundercade,” I think you read about that.

And “Lincoln Lawyer” will be a franchise with the character then going…?

Gary Lucchesi: Yes, yes. There’s a new book coming out at Christmas. Michael Connolly’s got a sequel to it.

So you bought the rights to all future….?

Gary Lucchesi: We bought the rights to Mickey Haller. When you buy the rights to the first book, you retain the character rights.

You mentioned foreign sales with “Fame”. When you have a property like that that’s much more well known, is it a bigger budget for you guys? How big are the production…like the musical numbers? I mean, what kind of movie is this going to be?

Gary Lucchesi: This is going to be, you know, $25 million-$30 million movie. It’s not small. It’s not $60 million, but it’s….

…or $100.

Gary Lucchesi: You can’t do that with unknown actors. It doesn’t make any sense.

It’s interesting though because sometimes a lot of people talk about when you have a lower budget but lesser known actors you have a lot more freedom to tell the story you want to tell because actors aren’t being as…the director has a little more control or maybe the production company, I don’t know.

Gary Lucchesi: Well, you know we have a script that everybody likes and it’s about young kids at a performing arts high school in New York City and it’s about them trying to achieve their dreams and they come from…

And it’s set today.

Gary Lucchesi: It’s set today and they come from…

And they’re not using the old score. They’ve got all new songs?

Gary Lucchesi: All new songs except we are going to use the Fame song. Not in the body of the movie probably, but we do have the rights to that …

In the credits or something?

Gary Lucchesi: Yes, and we want to do a big thing with that. That’s an iconigraphic song,right? But Kevin, if you’ve met him, he’s the perfect guy.

Yeah, he talked about wanting to do a really strong staging of the musical numbers and one camera stuff. He mentioned, I forget the name of the film maker, from the…

Gary Lucchesi: Fosse.


Gary Lucchesi: Why not? If you’re going to do a musical Bob Fosse was the best, right?

He was throwing out some pretty serious names. He sounded like he really knew what he was doing.

Gary Lucchesi: Oh yeah, he knows what he’s doing. He’s a Hollywood kid except his father was a teamster—a teamster coordinator, you know? He was right below the captain. So he grew up on sets his whole life and then he started dancing and then he ended up dancing with Britney Spears and Justin Timberlake, they were all at the same school and then he started choreographing for them. So it was wild.

It’s interesting because he does have that rapport with those people and the question becomes you want to have the unknowns because you want people to believe in the people they see on-screen, but at the same time it’s easier to sell a movie when you have a star element or star song.

Gary Lucchesi: Well, but then well we’re going to have….by the time the movie comes out the songs will be….the songs are really good that we’re working on, you know, with big producers and there’ll be hot songs. But the other side of it too is if you have known actors trying to become famous, the audience would look at you and say this is fake. They want to see unknown people…

Discovered like America’s Got Talent.

Gary Lucchesi: Absolutely. Right?

Yeah, I think that’s a great idea but a lot of studios have apprehension about not having that star or…

Gary Lucchesi: Here’s the way studios look at it. Right now they’re sitting there saying do we have a pre-branded title, okay? So that’s why you’ll see….you know you could say that Robert Downey, Jr was a star, but he hadn’t been a box office star for a long time. But he was a very fine actor and “Iron Man” was a pre-branded title, okay? So at the same time, too you’d say well is Channing Tatum a big star? Maybe, maybe not, but him in “G.I. Joe”, it’s a pre-branded title. That’s the way they’re thinking right now.

You’ve got somebody hot, who can act, who critics like…

Gary Lucchesi: And they’ll take bigger chances because the title is pre-branded.

Sure, you’ve got your built in audience. Every kid’s who’s grown up and every kid that’s out there is going to want to see it.

Gary Lucchesi: Please, God. I hope you’re right.

They’ve been flocking to “High School Musical”. We’ve got a 3rd one coming, so..

Gary Lucchesi: They sure have. They sure have.

But what’s the difference between “Fame”….

Gary Lucchesi: “Fame’s” real. It’s real. You know we went to New York to do this whole casting. It’s amazing too, in New York there’s more than 1 high school of performing arts.

They closed the other one didn’t they?

Gary Lucchesi: Well, no here’s what it is. The LaGuardia one, which was what the original “Fame” is built on, is now called the Jacqueline Kennedy High School of Dance, okay? The new LaGuardia is this big black building that’s a 1990’s kind of building. It’s like 8 stories. I don’t think it’s black actually, the one across the street—Martin Luther King is black. It’s sort of a big modern building. So you don’t want to say that’s the high school, but 4 blocks away is this place called PPAS, that is a turn of the century looks like a high school and they say there’s LaGuardia’s competitors. I didn’t know there were like 4 high schools in Manhattan that were all geared towards arts.

What was your turn out….I’m sure you did open casting. Was it like every student in New York City lined up?

Gary Lucchesi: Tons, tons. And we went to this dance audition where we must have seen a thousand kids. But it’s interesting, “Fame” asks for multi-faceted talent. It asked for a dancer who can act. It asked for a singer who can act. Sometimes when you ask them to do 2 or 3 things that’s a harder thing. There are a lot of great dancers, but there aren’t that many dancer/actors.

How was Kevin in the audition process? Was he right there saying, you know, can you do this?

Gary Lucchesi: Kevin’s on top of it completely. He reminds me of J.J. Abrams who I met years ago when I did “Regarding Henry”. If you know J.J. he’s really quick, really sharp, right on top of it 100% devoted to the art.

“Regarding Henry”, the Harrison Ford movie….

Gary Lucchesi: Yeah, I did that when I was President of Production at Paramount when that happened.

Okay, sorry.

Gary Lucchesi: Yeah, I know. I remember we got this review from Time Magazine said you want to be a good person, you should be shot in the head. That was not so good. What are you going to do? That’s life, right? We all have movies that work and don’t work.

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