Director Kenny Ortega Leaves Paramount's Footloose Remake
by Ethan Anderton
October 26, 2009
Director and choreographer Kenny Ortega has spent a lot of time in Disney's court, from the beloved 1992 musical Newsies starring a young, though not entirely vocally fresh, Christian Bale, to the overly-popular High School Musical movies. No matter your musical tastes, there's no denying that Ortega knows his way around fast-paced song and dance numbers. It was almost a year ago that Ortega was first attached to the non-Disney Footloose remake (then starring Zac Efron who has since been replaced by Chace Crawford) but now Variety reports today that he has now left the project due to "creative and budgetary differences."
Variety cites unnamed insiders who claim: "Ortega wanted to make a picture with elaborately staged musical numbers at a budget of $30 million or so. [Paramount] production chief Adam Goodman wanted an edgier drama with less emphasis on the musical numbers and a budget around $25 million or less." If you hire Kenny Ortega to direct a remake of Footloose based on the hit Broadway musical, why on Earth would you quibble over the elaborate nature or cost of the musical numbers? That's like getting James Cameron to direct Titanic, but have him shoot it on a row boat. Either way, Ortega certainly won't be hurting for work or money with this week's already record breaking theatrical release of This Is It, the much talked about documentary chronicling musical icon Michael Jackson's work on what would have been a dazzling international concert tour before his untimely death back in June.
So the search is on for someone new to direct Chace Crawford and his leading lady, country music singer and "Dancing with the Stars" vixen Julianne Hough, and keep production on track for a March 2010 start date. If Paramount is going to get another director in there with a great blend of musical and dramatic experience, then I say get Bill Condon on the case. He certainly struck gold with Dreamgirls back in 2006. But Condon might already have a full schedule since he's attached to direct the Richard Pryor biopic Is It Something I Said?. Anyway, I hope Paramount can salvage what could be a fun musical. How about you?