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Disney Channel Greenlights Original Movie Featuring Offspring Of Classic Disney Characters, Kenny Ortega To Direct

By | Thursday December 12, 2013 @ 12:37pm PST
Nellie Andreeva

Disney Channel Descendants Original MovieEXCLUSIVE: Meet the offspring of Cruella De Vil, Maleficent, the Evil Queen and Jafar. Disney Channel has ordered to production Descendants, its first live-action original movie tapping into Disney’s vault of classic fairytale characters. Directed by High School Musical helmer and choreographer Kenny Ortega in his return to Disney Channel, the contemporary adventure-comedy revolves around the progeny of some of Disney’s most evil villains, introducing a modern generation of teenagers kenny ortegawho question the evil that’s always been in their hearts. Casting is underway, overseen by High School Musical casting directors Natalie Hart and Jason La Padura, with production slated to begin in the spring for a 2015 premiere on Disney Channel. “We mined Disney’s treasure trove of stories and developed a new, comedic approach to the fabled characters everyone knows and loves,” said Gary Marsh, President and Chief Creative Officer of Disney Channels Worldwide. “The result is a modern and unexpected re-interpretation of classic heritage characters utilizing contemporary, relatable settings and themes.”

CruellaWritten by Josann McGibbon and Sara Parriott (The Starter Wife, Runaway Bride), Descendants is set in a present-day idyllic kingdom, where the benevolent teenaged son of the King and Queen (Beast and Belle from Disney’s Beauty And The Beast) is poised to take the throne. His first proclamation: offer a chance at redemption to the trouble-making offspring of Cruella De Vil, Maleficent, the Evil Queen and Jafar who have been imprisoned on a forbidden EvilQueenisland with all the other villains, sidekicks, evil step-mothers and step-sisters. These villainous descendants (Carlos, Mal, Evvie and Jay, respectively) are allowed into the kingdom to attend prep school alongside the offspring of iconic Disney heroes including Fairy Godmother, Sleeping Beauty, Rapunzel and Mulan. However, the evil teens face a dilemma: Should they follow in their nefarious parents’ footsteps and help all the villains regain power or embrace their innate goodness and save the kingdom? Read More »

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Lionsgate Postpones ‘Dirty Dancing’ Reboot

By | Friday June 8, 2012 @ 11:59am PDT

EXCLUSIVE: Lionsgate is postponing the Dirty Dancing reboot. The studio has put the remake on ice for another year for casting reasons, Deadline has learned. The remake of the 1987 Patrick Swayze and Jennifer Grey film was scheduled to be released in July 2013, but now the movie is off the studio’s release dance card at least until 2014. Kenny Ortega, who was a choreographer on the original, is attached to direct the film. No cast had been announced.  However Deadline has learned that Glee’s Lea Michele, Trespass’ Liana Liberato and Canadian singer Nikki Yanofsky were screen tested as were Brothers & Sisters’ Luke Grime, Nashville Star’s Justin Gaston and Dancing With the Stars’ Derek Hough.

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Lionsgate’s ‘Dirty Dancing’ Set For July 2013

By | Thursday November 3, 2011 @ 5:21pm PDT

Lionsgate said today that its remake of Dirty Dancing will get a wide release on July 26, 2013. Deadline broke the news in August that the studio had set Kenny Ortega to direct the period musical drama, a new take on the iconic 1987 film that starred Patrick Swayze and Jennifer Grey in the 1960s-set story of a girl who summers with her family at an upscale Catskills resort and falls for the dance instructor. Ortega was the choreographer on the original movie. Maria Maggenti is writing the script on the redo, which is being produced by Ortega and Debra Martin Chase. Additionally, Lionsgate said The Possession will open on August 31, 2012, in wide release.  It was previously dated on January 6, 2012.

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NBC Teams With Kenny Ortega For Latin Dance Studio Drama

By | Thursday October 13, 2011 @ 3:09pm PDT
Nellie Andreeva

EXCLUSIVE: NBC is developing a Latino family drama with dance elements executive produced by top choreographer/director Kenny Ortega and The Event executive producer Steve Stark. Ortega is also set to direct the untitled project, about a multi-generational Hispanic family running a Latin dance studio in Miami. Ligiah Villalobos (Under The Same Moon/La Misma Luna) has been hired to write the script, with Todd Robinson serving as a non-writing producer. Ortega, Stark and Robinson developed the world and the characters on the show, drawing on personal stories centered around their families and their connection to dance. Universal Television is producing with studio-based Steve Stark Prods. This is the second high-profile project this season about a Latino family in Miami, joining Fox’s dramedy written and executive produced by Ugly Betty creator Silvio Horta and executive produced by Jennifer Lopez. Paradigm-repped Ortega, director of the hit High School Musical franchise and the Michael Jackson documentary This Is It, was recently tapped to direct Lionsgate’s Dirty Dancing remake. (He choreographed the 1987 original.) CAA-repped Stark executive produces USA’s Fairly Legal. Villalobos is with ICM and Levity.

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Scribe Maria Maggenti To Reboot ‘Dirty Dancing’

By | Monday August 29, 2011 @ 9:41am PDT
Mike Fleming

EXCLUSIVE: Lionsgate has set Maria Maggenti to script the Dirty Dancing remake that has Kenny Ortega attached to direct. Ortega was the choreographer of the 1987 Emile Ardolino-helmed film about a pampered young girl who summers with her upscale family at an establishment in the Catskills and falls in love with the resident dance instructor. Because Lionsgate has fast-tracked the film and set a director, this was a job a lot of writers wanted. Maggenti got it after scripting Monte Carlo for Fox and New Regency. Since then, she scripted an adaptation of Before I Fall and is finishing up My Name Is Memory, also for Fox 2000 and New Regency. The writer’s repped by APA and Madhouse Entertainment.

Lionsgate is hoping to recapture some of the financial magic of the original, a sleeper hit that for its time was one of the most profitable independent films ever seen, costing $6 million and grossing $213.95 million worldwide. It was made by Vestron, which could not get its act together and mobilize a sequel before crapping out. Lionsgate released Artisan’s 2004 sequel, Dirty Dancing: Havana Nights, but didn’t make that film and has started from scratch and gone back to the original.

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Kenny Ortega Comes Full Circle To Direct ‘Dirty Dancing’ Reboot

By | Monday August 8, 2011 @ 1:58pm PDT
Mike Fleming

UPDATE: Lionsgate has now confirmed Deadline’s Dirty Dancing story. The release appears below the original story.

EARLIER EXCLUSIVE: Lionsgate has set Kenny Ortega to direct Dirty Dancing, the remake of the 1987 Emile Ardolino-helmed film about a pampered young girl who summers with her upscale family at an establishment in the Catskills and falls in love with the resident dance instructor. It brings Ortega full circle, since he choreographed and came up with the grinding “dirty dancing” that made the original sleeper hit one of the most profitable independent films ever made to that point. The original, made by Vestron Pictures, cost $6 million, grossed $213.95 million worldwide, and went on to become a big video title. Unbelievably, Vestron took so long to work out a sequel (some of it was cast salary, and I recall Patrick Swayze asking $5 million and Jennifer Grey a comparable amount), that Vestron folded before the movie could be mobilized. Lionsgate first got involved when it released Artisan’s 2004 sequel, Dirty Dancing: Havana Nights, but it didn’t feature the same cast and it tanked. Lionsgate is starting over. Read More »

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Universal Tuning Feature Version Of Green Day Stage Musical ‘American Idiot’

Mike Fleming

EXCLUSIVE: Universal Pictures is negotiating to turn the Green Day-fueled Broadway musical American Idiot into a feature film. Dustin Lance Black, the Oscar-winning Milk scribe, is in talks to write the script, and Michael Mayer will direct. Mayer helmed the stage run of the musical, which is closing on Broadway April 24 and launching a tour in the fall. Black most recently scripted J. Edgar, the Clint Eastwood film that stars Leonardo DiCaprio as J. Edgar Hoover.

The musical, which uses the songs of the punk band’s seminal 2004 album to tell the coming-of-age story of three small-town guys, was optioned before its opening last spring by Playtone partners Tom Hanks and Gary Goetzman. They previously turned the stage hit Mamma Mia! into a Universal film. It is expected that Green Day lead singer/songwriter Billie Joe Armstrong will be courted to play the role of the drug dealer St. Jimmy. Each time he did a stint in the role on Broadway, the grosses rose considerably at the St. James Theatre. The band was actively involved in the formation of the musical. Read More »

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Universal Dropping Musical ‘In The Heights’

By | Monday March 28, 2011 @ 3:00pm PDT
Mike Fleming

EXCLUSIVE: Universal Pictures has ended plans to turn the Tony Award-winning Broadway musical In The Heights into a feature with director Kenny Ortega. I’m told that the studio made a hard decision to drop the project. Expectation is that creator Lin-Manuel Miranda can set up the musical elsewhere. The studio backed out because the film’s budget was $37 million, but the original expectation that big Latino names would be in small roles didn’t pan out. That made it a high price tag for a film built on the draw of Miranda, playing a bodega owner in Washington Heights who inherits his late grandmother’s lottery winnings and plans to close his store and retire on the beach in the Dominican Republic. In the three-day span, he realizes that the neighbors on the block are his true family, which makes the exit decision a hard one. Universal acquired the rights in late 2008 with the show’s book writer, Quiara Alegria Hudes, writing the script.

Studios all over town are making hard choices on green lights, something Universal dealt with recently when it decided not to go forward with the Guillermo del Toro-directed At the Mountains of Madness. Part of the reason In the Heights was pricey was because it would have been shot in New York in the summer. But after watching The Fighter leave Paramount with a $50 million price tag and … Read More »

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