Tancharoen brings old-school touch to new "Fame"

Fri Sep 11, 2009 9:16pm EDT
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By Leila Cobo

MIAMI (Billboard) - First-time feature film director Kevin Tancharoen grew up watching the movie "Fame." Now, the 25-year-old dancer, choreographer and video director -- who has worked with Britney Spears and Christina Aguilera and who directed the MTV series "Twentyfourseven" and "DanceLife" -- presents his contemporary take on the classic tale of the pursuit of dreams.

Tancharoen's version of "Fame," for MGM, opens September 25 and has a new cast, a new storyline and new music. The director also executive-produced the film's soundtrack, released August 25.

Billboard: Was it daunting to remake such an emblematic movie, particularly as your first feature film?

Kevin Tancharoen: Definitely. You have to walk in very humbly and say you're going to do it differently. The only way it's a remake is because we're copying the four-year structure and it takes place at the New York High School for the Performing Arts. Other than that, it's completely different. (Music-wise) we used the theme song and we had one of the leads sing "Out Here on My Own."

Billboard: Is the first film's gutsy, exhilarating spirit present in the movie?

Tancharoen: One hundred percent. The movie is very grounded and very gritty and very authentic, because I come from that world of performing arts, and I wanted to bring that authenticity to that movie. All those things I romanticize I actually think are very, very cool. You can see the work people do in the school: The instruments are a little old, the mirrors are chipped, it's not a well-funded school by any means, but it's a place of passion, and I wanted to transmit that.

Billboard: How did you land this film?

Tancharoen: They thought my background was unique and they thought it would bring a useful authenticity to the movie. What's popular today are (films like) "High School Musical," and although those movies are so entertaining, I never thought any of the characters jumped off the screen as engaging. I thought the situations were formulated just to get a performance out of them. The movies I love are like "All That Jazz" and "Cabaret," because they're bittersweet and romantic. You love the pain an artist goes through, but you also see the spectacle of the musical numbers.   Continued...