Kenny Ortega might be known around Hollywood right now as one of the masterminds of the lucrative High School Musical phenomenon, but, in my heart, he’ll always be the director of Newsies. (Look, you can throw Batman Begins, The Prestige and Reign of Fire at me all day long, but Christian Bale was never more fuckable than as an upstart newsboy with a lovely tenor and an indefatigable desire to unionize his fellow paper-slingers.) That said, I’m pretty sure it’s the former, family-friendly tuner that just won him the opportunity to develop the second musical version of Footloose.
I have a feeling that my bafflement over Paramount wasting development dollars to redo what was already a smash on Broadway – Footloose: The Musical packed in the idiot tourists for a good two years – can be cleared up by one word: licensing. Since the first musical version was comprised of all our favorite songs from the Herbert Ross-directed film (e.g. "Holding Out for a Hero", "Almost Paradise" and "Let’s Hear It for the Boy"), it could be that a second film featuring a practically identical soundtrack might pose some re-licensing challenges. Or maybe Ortega and producer Dylan Sellers simply have no interest in repackaging the film for Gen X-ers, and are instead eager to court a strictly teenage audience (which continues to work just fine with High School Musical).
Zac Effron, the star of High School Musical, is in talks to step into Kevin Bacon’s dancin’ shoes as Ren, the city boy upstart who gets all the boys and girls hootin’ and hollerin’ like, yes, a bunch of Kansas City faggots – much to the chagrin of the local preacher. Frankly, I think it’s still too soon after the death of Chris Penn to be doing this.