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'Fame' game is a reality check

Published October 05. 2009 02:55PM

With the success of "High School Musical," as well as the popularity of charter schools for the arts, including the Lehigh Valley Charter High School for the Performing Arts, Bethlehem, a remake of "Fame, based on director Alan Parker's 1980 hit film that starred Irene Cara and became a TV series, was a light bulb moment in the very marquee that opens the remake.

The new-found "Fame," while exuberant and, at times, uplifting, is a reality check. After years of "American Idol," we know success in show business isn't easy, or pretty. The story again takes place at New York City High School of Performing Arts, the "Fame" school. The latest "Fame" has several noteworthy young talents.

Naturi Naughton is the standout, and reprises the title song. Malik (Collins Pennie) is charismatic. Familiar faces lend credibility to the school staff: Bebe Neuwirth, Kelsey Grammer, Megan Mullally, Charles S. Dutton and Debbie Allen, who was in the original "Fame."

The bittersweet tone is established by director Kevin Tanchareon in his theatrical directorial debut.

The screenplay by Allison Burnett ("Resurrecting the Champ") is based on the screenplay by Christopher Gore, who won two Oscars for best score and the title song for the original movie.

Instead of warm sepia tones, or even bright, flashy colors, the art director's palette is blue-gray. The cinematography is documentary style, with grainy footage and a hand-held camera sensibility.

Early on, there's too much cross-cutting between auditions and rehearsals. Relationships between the characters are sketchy. The muddled screenplay is again an example of too many lead characters.

The movie has entertaining music numbers: a hip-hop piece in the cafeteria, Denise singing at the piano, a theater presentation, dance studio rehearsal number and the finale.

This version of "Fame" would not be taught in a scriptwriting class at the "Fame" high school, unless as an example of what not to do.

"Fame": MPAA Rated PG (Parental Guidance Suggested. Some material may not be suitable for children) for thematic material including teen drinking, a sexual situation and language; Genre: Comedy, Drama, Family, Musical, Romance; Run time: 1 hr., 47 min. Distributed by United Artists-MGM.

Credit Readers Anonymous: "Fame" was filmed on location in New York City.

Box Office, Sept. 25, The weekend forecast again was "Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs," No. 1, two weeks in a row with $24.6 million and $60 million; Bruce Willis in "Surrogates" opened at No. 2, with $15 million. "Fame" didn't go to most movie-goers' heads, opening at No. 3, with only $10 million. 4."The Informant!," $6.9 million, $21 million, two weeks; 5. "Tyler Perry's I Can Do Bad All By Myself," $4.7 million, $44.5 million, three weeks; 6. "Pandorum" bombed, $4.4 million, opening; 7. "Love Happens" still wasn't happening, $4.3 million, $14.7 million, two weeks; 8. Jennifer's Body" continued its slide to DVD, $3.5 million, $12.3 million, two weeks; 9. "9." $2.8 million, $27.1 million, three weeks; 10. "Inglourious Basterds," $2.7 million, $114 million, six weeks

Unreel, Oct. 2: With the documentary, "Capitalism: A Love Story," Michael Moore tries to get to the bottom of the global economic meltdown. Are writers-directors Ethan and Joel Coen kidding with "A Serious Man"? Just in time for the scary season is "Zombieland," starring Woody Harrelson, Abigail Breslin and Bill Murray (as himself). Drew Barrymore debuts as director with "Whip It,' about Texas roller-derby girls, starring Ellen Page and Kristen Wiig. "The Invention of Lying" puts Ricky Gervais behind the camera and onscreen, opposite Jennifer Garner. Honest.

Two Popcorn Boxes Out Of Five Popcorn Boxes

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