Back in 1980, when maverick U.K. filmmaker Alan Parker released his immensely popular, generation-defining musical drama Fame, times were considerably different.
The movie examined the lives of a select group of young aspiring performers at New York City’s High School for the Performing Arts, giving people an intimate — often off-colour —but always honest portrait of the dreams and passions of youth.
Next week sees the release of the glossy, state-of-the-art remake of Fame, a film that is being billed as a “re-imagining” of the source. And while this Fame still touches on the same themes and high energy performances, the novelty may have worn off a bit, especially in this age of reality TV equivalents American Idol and more resonantly, So You Think You Can Dance, a program that co-star Kherington Payne is more than a little bit familiar with.
“I think we had to take a different approach than the original did,” says Payne, who herself was a top 10 finalist and fan favourite on So You Think You Can Dance last year.
“The world of the performing arts isn’t as secret as it was when the first film was released. Things have changed so our Fame is a fresh perspective.”
One of the major differences between the two versions is the target audience. The original picture was rated R due to the level of frank language and sexuality, the new version opts for a lighter approach.
“This is a PG all the way,” says Payne.
“The movie is designed for families, to inspire kids of all ages and just be entertaining without offending anyone.”
In Fame, Payne was chosen from a staggering array of hopefuls to play the beautiful, leggy dancer Alice. But her presence, good looks and most importantly, her impossibly accomplished skills as a dancer shone through. When she was voted off So You Think You Can dance, it was a shock, both for audiences who believed she’d go all the way and for Payne herself. But, despite her public heartbreak, she rebounded spectacularly and regrets nothing.
“Rejection hurts, I won’t lie,” says the newly minted actress.
“But you can’t let it get you down. Really, it thickened my skin and without it, I wouldn’t be where I am now.”