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Paramount Pictures' Footloose is an exuberant entertainment, bursting to screen life
with music, romance and dance. Starring Kevin Bacon, Lori Singer, Dianne Wiest and
John Lithgow, it's a musical from some of Hollywood's most skilled musical-makers.
Directed by Herbert Ross ("Funny Lady," "The Turning Point") and executive produced
by Daniel Melnick ("That's Entertainment," "All That Jazz"), Footloose was written by
Academy Award-winning lyricist Dean Pitchford, who not only wrote the original
screenplay but collaborated with top talents in contemporary music on the
nine-song score. At a time when Hollywood seemed to be redefining the musical film,
Footloose broke new ground in eschewing even the most updated conventions of the
genre.If the music were removed from Footloose, the film's topical story would stand
on its own. The tone of the film is naturalistic, and no theatrical settings were employed to
introduce the music or dance.
"It's a musical that uses music in an unconventional way," said director Ross. "It's not
the kind of musical in which people suddenly break into song. It's not even the kind of
musical in which the musical numbers are done in rehearsal or on stage. The music in
'Footloose' emanates from the lives of the kids in the film, it's the kind of music they might
hear on the radio, the kind they would play on tape." The idea for the film was born three years before its release, when Dean Pitchford found himself wanting to write a movie that utilized contemporary music but didn't want to write the oft-told backstage or traditional musical story. "I puzzled over how to make music the focal point of the story," reflects Pitchford."Until it occurred to me that music can become the point if within the context of the story it is frowned upon. The same with dancing, which can then become a metaphor for personal liberty and freedom in a very restrictive society." In researching his concept, Pitchford was startled to discover that dancing was prohibited in many communities throughout the United States, that other places treated rock 'n' roll as verboten, and that record-burnings and the removal of books from the library shelves were actually increasingly prevalent at the time. Pitchford presented his idea for Footloose to Dan Melnick who, struck by the project's
originality, commissioned a screenplay and brought it to Paramount. Lewis J. Rachmil and Craig Zadan, Melnick's associates from his IndieProd Company, were named the film's producers.
Melnick's next move was to sign the distinguished director Herbert Ross, noted for such
screen musicals as "Funny Girl," "Funny Lady," "The Turning Point" and "Pennies From
Heaven." While these large-scale films have little to do with the Top 40, Ross' experience
encompassed seminal roots in rock. In the Sixties, he worked on two of the pioneer Cliff
Richards British pop films, choreographing "The Young Ones" and directing the musical
portions of "Summer Holiday." He was also credited with staging some of the very first rock'n' roll numbers presented on TV: Bill Haley and The Comets' "Rock Around the Clock." Immediately after signing to do Footloose, Ross began to work with screenwriter Pitchford, refining the screenplay and its musical sequences. "Our story meetings were
terrifically exciting," Pitchford recalls. "Herbert has amazing insights when it comes to
shaping a character or storyline. Sometimes we'd improvise, he'd play one part, and I'd
play another, and we'd go on for ten minutes talking like the two characters." Ross' vast knowledge of music and dance, both classical and contemporary, was vital to
the success of the production. To assist in the dance segments, which were to be as
organic as the music, the American Ballet Theater's Lynne Taylor-Corbett was brought
onto the project as choreographer. She shared with Ross both an extensive background
in traditional ballet and a total familiarity with contemporary dance, from the Twist to the
Reinforcing the naturalistic approach to the dancing, Ross, himself a former dancer and
choreographer, remarked: "In striving for reality, Lynne and I aimed for social, not
theatrical dancing. The kind of dances you see at discotheques or concerts or parties. It
is never escalated into proscenium dance. Lynne limited her range of movement so
that anybody moderately gifted in terms of rhythm or suppleness and who responded to
music could, with some practice, do most of the dances." The dancing was staged to appear spontaneous but actually was carefully designed step-by-step to bring the audience inside the experience. The dance in the Western bar, for instance, on paper reads as an arm here and an arm there, but every movement was plotted out precisely. The big dance at the end was even more carefully choreographed than the bar sequence and yet looks wilder and less structured.
"We had this special situation," commented Taylor-Corbett, "in which the kids in the film hadn't
been allowed to dance, but they'd watched dancing on TV and probably had slipped off to
someplace out of town to try it out. So we made a composite of all the styles of dancing in
the last ten years and then mixed in some of the new ones and came up with a potpourri."
In casting Footloose, Ross and Melnick felt the film would best be served with some
newer screen faces, actors on the brink of stardom. The casting of the male lead posed a particular problem in that the part included a demanding solo dance number.
Kevin Bacon had always been considered for the film due to his widely-applauded
performance as the angry Fenwick in "Diner," but he had not been contacted because no
one thought he had any background in dance. When co-producer Craig Zadan discovered
that Kevin was a terrific, albeit untrained dancer, the actor was called in for a meeting with
Ross and Melnick, and soon thereafter won the role of Ren MacCormack. Bacon immediately began a strenuous daily training program with Lynne Taylor-Corbett to prepare physically for the film. Since Ren MacCormack was established in the script as a high school athlete, Taylor-Corbett had been working with gymnastic expert Chuck Gaylord on a spectacular solo dance for Ren that would incorporate daring gymnastics moves into the choreography. Gaylord was a gymnastic expert who took time out from training his brother Mitch, the USA's top-ranked Olympic-bound gymnast, in order to coach Bacon for the film.
After Bacon was signed, the rest of the cast fell smoothly into place. Lori Singer was
summoned from TV's "Fame" series to make her motion picture debut; immediately after
completing Footloose, she was signed to star with Timothy Hutton and Sean Penn in
"The Falcon and the Snowman." Broadway's Dianne Wiest was set to play opposite John
Lithgow, acclaimed then for both "Twilight Zone - The Movie" and "Terms of Endearment." The co-stars were an amalgam of seasoned character actors and promising screen newcomers. The latter include: Elizabeth Gorcey, who had a leading role in the film "Kidco"; Sarah Jessica Parker, the popular star of the TV series "Square Pegs" who later moved on to fame with Sex in the City;
Christopher Penn, then seen in "Rumble Fish" and "All the Right Moves"; and Jim Youngs,
whose previous films were "The Wanderers" and the made-for-television "The
Executioner's Song." Also in the cast were Frances Lee McCain, Douglas Dirkson, Lynne
Marta, Arthur Rosenberg and Timothy Scott.
To heighten the visual reality of the film, Footloose was shot entirely on locations in or
around the Utah towns of Provo, American Fork, Payson and Lehi, which collectively
comprise the fictional community of Bomont. Numerous supporting roles were cast
locally, and the company of dancers was drawn from such near-to-the-location institutions
as Brigham Young University, the University of Utah and Sundance Theater. The wealth
of local talent further enhanced the "real" look of the film and aided director Ross in
successfully capturing the spirit of a people in a small and contained Midwestern
Publicity still Kevin Bacon and Lori Singer
Executive producer Daniel Melnick, whose musical film "All That Jazz," directed by Bob Fosse, received nine Academy Award nominations and four Oscars plus the Golden Palm at the Cannes Film Festival, was noted for his own productions and his ability to head the production programs of major studios. At the time, he formed a new production entity, The IndieProd Company, to produce entertainment for motion pictures and the evolving technologies. Previously, Melnick was head of production and President of Columbia Pictures after having been instrumental in the resurgence of MGM to major status under his title as Senior Vice President in Charge of World-Wide Production.
At Columbia, his reputation for taste in subject matter and a strong commitment to quality and craftsmanship induced a score of major filmmakers to align themselves with that studio on projects.
At MGM, he set in motion a constant flow of film product that restored the studio to a leading position in the industry, which, of course, did not last very long. His dedication and personal efforts brought to the screen his and Jack Haley, Jr.'s "That's Entertainment," which launched MGM in a series of box-office hits highlighted by the award-winning "The Sunshine Boys" and "The Goodbye Girl." Prior to his MGM association, Melnick spent eight years as a partner in Talent Associates, overseeing a variety of prestigious film, television and stage productions. During this period, he personally produced the hit motion picture "Straw Dogs," directed by Sam Peckinpah and starring Dustin Hoffman. Melnick won Emmy Awards for his productions of the specials "Death of a Salesman" and "The Ages of Man." With David Susskind, he was executive producer of the popular "East Side/West Side" and "N.Y.P.D." series, as well as numerous other television series and specials. Before joining Talent Associates, Melnick had been Vice-President in Charge of Programming for the ABC Television Network, where he was credited with the development of many of that network's most innovative and favorably-received programs. Born in New York City on April 21, 1934, Melnick relocated to Hollywood after completing his formal education at New York University. He began his industry career at the age of 20 when he became the youngest staff producer at CBS Television.
Herbert Ross, Director
Herbert Ross was a major force in motion pictures, a man gifted with creativity and energy, who delighted film audiences with his versatility, which had extended to musicals to comedies to dramas. He has even managed to wedge some noteworthy stage presentations in among his movie projects.
A leading director of film musicals, Ross brought Footloose to the screen. Witty, sophisticated and a native New Yorker, Ross was a choreographer for the American Ballet Theater and Broadway stage before turning to film directing. When he was 23, his first ballet, the Goya-inspired "Caprichos," was performed by the Ballet Theatre and led to a choreography assignment on the Broadway musical version of "A Tree Grows in Brooklyn." Another of Ross' choreographic works to win much praise was "The Maids," based on Jean Genet's play. For the next few years, he divided his time between Broadway, television and nightclub acts, as well as choreographing his first film, "Carmen Jones," directed by Otto Preminger. Then he extended his talent by directing as well as choreographing the revival of "Wonderful Town" with Nancy Walker at City Center.
In the late Fifties, Ross left Broadway and television to become the resident choreographer for the American Ballet Theater and, while on tour with the company in Europe and Africa, married the company's prima ballerina, Nora Kaye. They formed their own company known as Ballet of Two Worlds, performing throughout Europe and premiering three ballets at Italy's Spoleto Festival. While in Europe, he also worked on two of Cliff Richards' musical films, choreographing "The Young Ones" and directing the musical portions of "Summer Holiday." Back in the States, Ross contributions to such Broadway musicals as "The Gay Life," "I Can Get It For You Wholesale," "Anyone Can Whistle," "On a Clear Day You Can See Forever" and "The Apple Tree" thoroughly established his prime position among the stage's musical directors and choreographers. His next move was a return to motion pictures. He staged Natalie Wood's dance number for "Inside Daisy Clover," the roadhouse dance in Mike Nichols' "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?" and the musical sequences for Richard Fleischer's "Doctor Doolittle." During this period, he occasionally lent his talents to television shows, among them the award-winning "Bell Telephone Hour" (which he produced six times in a two-year period). He also choreographed Fred Astaire's farewell special. By a natural progression, he came to the film version of "Funny Girl" to direct new star Barbra Streisand's first screen test. (William Wyler directed the film itself). It was Ross who had directed her show-stopping number as Miss Marmelstein, the unloved secretary, in the musical "I Can Get It For You Wholesale," (available on Columbia Masterworks CD) which made her the toast of Broadway. Ross also directed the many musical numbers in "Funny Girl," and Hollywood noticed the characterization he got into Streisand's musical sequences.
In 1969, Ross attained full director status with "Goodbye, Mr. Chips," a drama with songs which earned Peter 0'Toole an Oscar nomination for his performance in the title role. Little wonder that when Streisand wanted to branch out from musicals, Ross was there to direct her first straight comedy, "The Owl and the Pussycat." In 1974, he did the continuation of the Fanny Brice story in "Funny Lady," with Barbra Streisand again as Fanny and James Caan playing Billy Rose. It was nominated for four Academy Awards. Next came Ross' first Neil Simon collaboration, "The Sunshine Boys," starring Walter Matthau and George Burns as two feuding ex-vaudevillians. They both received Academy Award nominations, with Burns winning the Oscar as Best Supporting Actor. "The Seven-Per-Cent-Solution" found Ross mixing mystery and tongue-in-cheek adventure with Nicol Williamson as Sherlock Holmes, Alan Arkin as Sigmund Freud, Robert Duvall as Watson and Sir Laurence Olivier as Moriarty.
Setting up a shot
A banner year for the director was 1977 with two of his films, "The Turning Point" and "The Goodbye Girl" nominated for Oscars as Best Picture, rare in Academy annals. The two films received a total of 15 nominations, plus an Academy Award for Dreyfuss as Best Actor. During the same year, Ross directed Simon's "Chapter Two" on Broadway, which received four Tony Awards. Then he returned to California to direct the film version of Simon's Broadway hit, "California
Suite," a quartet of skits set in the Beverly Hills Hotel with Michael Caine, Maggie Smith, Jane Fonda, Alan Alda, Richard Pryor, Walter Matthau and Bill Cosby.
Out of three Oscar nominations for the picture, Ms. Smith won an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress.
Having paved the way with "The Turning Point," Ross brought "Nijinsky" to the screen in 1979, with George de la Pena playing the legendary ballet dancer and Alan Bates portraying Ballet Russe impresario Sergei Diaghilev. Another teaming with Simon followed when Ross directed the stage presentation of "I Ought to Be In Pictures," for which Dinah Manoff won a Tony Award.
Returning to his musical roots, Ross produced and directed the innovative musical drama "Pennies From Heaven," starring Steve Martin and Bernadette Peters at MGM. Prior to Footloose, he directed and co-produced with Simon "I Ought to Be In Pictures" and directed and produced "Max Dugan Returns" A statistic that speaks for itself: Ross' films at the time had received 34 Academy Award nominations.
Original Lobby Cards
Screenwriter and Lyricist Dean Pitchford
Screenwriter and lyricist Dean Pitchford won an Academy Award, a Golden Globe and two Grammy nominations for his lyrics (to Michael Gore's music) for the motion picture "Fame." The previous year he had two top-ten singles: Melissa Manchester's "You Should Hear How She Talks About You" (written with composer Tom Snow), which won the Grammy Award, and Kenny Loggins and Steve Perry's "Don't Fight It" (written with Loggins and Perry), which was nominated for a Grammy. Another of his songs, Linda Clifford's "Don't Come Cryin' to Me" (again written with Gore) stayed number one on the dance charts for weeks. He also wrote the title song (with composer Michael Miller) for the successful musical TV series "Solid Gold."
He collaborated on the nine-song score forFootloose with such popular composers as Kenny Loggins, Michael Gore, Tom Snow, Sammy Hagar, Jim Steinman, Bill Wolfer and Eric Carmen.
A native of Hawaii, Pitchford began his career as an actor before turning to writing. Awarded a scholarship to Yale, he dove head-long into the theater program at the prestigious School of Drama. His training expanded to dance when he spent a summer in San Francisco studying with the San Francisco Ballet. The summer prior to his senior college year, he auditioned for the Broadway cast of "Godspell," signed on as understudy and took over the leading role a couple of months later. Juggling his performing with his schooling, he managed to graduate from Yale in 1972. Then he starred in "Godspell" in Washington, D.C. for a year before joining the Broadway hit musical "Pippin," playing the title role for over 300
performances. His next stage appearance was the lead in Joseph Papp's production of Michel Legrand's "The Umbrellas of Cherbourg" at the Public Theater. Acting also in soap operas such as "Search For Tomorrow" and "All My Children," his interest gradually turned to songwriting and then screenwriting.
Pitchford's big break came when he contributed several songs to Peter Allen's Broadway show "Up In One." Opening night, Michael Gore was in the audience with his sister, singer Lesley Gore, and afterwords the composer called Pitchford to ask him to collaborate on songs for a new Alan Parker film called "Hot Lunch." Together they turned out three songs, "I Sing the Body Electric," "Red Light" and "Fame," for the picture that was retitled "Fame."
Director of Photography
Cinematographer Ric Waite racked up his seventh feature film with Footloose, after photographing more than 40 movies-of-the-week for television over the past five years before Footloose. Contributing to his growing reputation as a leader in his field were the Walter Hill motion pictures "48 HRS." and "The Long Riders," plus "Tex," starring Matt Dillon, "The Border," starring Jack Nicholson and the box-office smash "The Other Side of the Mountain." Waite won an Emmy Award for "Captains and the Kings," and the same year also received nominations for "Tail Gunner Joe" and "Huey P. Long.
Kevin Bacon on the set
Making her screen debut in Footloose was American Ballet Theater choreographer Lynne Taylor-Corbett, who had created such noteworthy ballets as "Great Galloping Gottschalk," "Equinox," "Estuary" and "Ordinary Rhythms," all performed by distinguished ballet troupes. A native of Denver, she moved to New York City at 17 and trained as a ballerina with the American Ballet Theater, the Joffrey Ballet and the School of American Ballet. She apprenticed with the Harkness Ballet and later spent two years with the Alvin Ailey Company. Among her Broadway stage appearances were "Promises, Promises" and "A Chorus Line."
Ron Hobbs had lent his considerable talents to motion pictures such as the Academy Award-winning "The Deer Hunter," "Personal Best," Steve McQueen's "The Hunter" and "Tom Horn," and "Just You and Me, Kid," starring George Burns and Brooke Shields. Some of his early theatrical films are Sam Peckinpah's "Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid," "Killer Elite" and "Islands in the Stream." Hobbs also has been active in the television arena, designing such productions as "Johnny Belinda" and "The Diary of Anne Frank." Before entering films, he was a noted architect in Santa Barbara.
Film editor Paul Hirsch won an Academy Award for his work on "Star Wars" and also was responsible for the expert pacing of "The Empire Strikes Back." He had edited no less than eight of Brian De Palma's horror-suspense films: "Hi, Moml," "Sisters," "Phantom of the Paradise," "Obsession," "Carrie," "The Fury," "Home Movies" and "Blow Out." Additionally, Hirsch had edited for director Frank Pierson ("King of the Gypsies") and George A. Romero's "Creepshow." Right before Footloose, he edited "The Black Stallion Returns" for director Robert Dalva.
Kevin Bacon came to prominence on the screen in the sleeper hit "Diner," playing the drunken but brilliant Fenwick; and here portrays the hassled new kid in town. A native of Philadelphia, where his father was a renowned city planner and director of the city's planning committee, Bacon showed signs of becoming an actor at an early age."I had an overdeveloped fantasy life and plugged myself into those fantasies whenever I could, he recalled in a Time magazine interview. "By the time I was nine, I wanted to be a visual artist; a painter. When I was 13, I wanted to be a conga-drum player. Then, when I reached 15 or 16, it came to me that I was going to be an actor." In junior high school, Bacon took drama lessons at a church his mother attended. It turned him on to acting. He began studying seriously. He was the youngest member of the Manning Street Actor's Theater and while there trained under a number of teachers who had different approaches and techniques, enabling him to synthesize his
After graduation from Parkway High School at the age of 17, Bacon went to New York and stayed with the Circle-in-the-Square for about a year, also qualifying there as the youngest member of the troupe. Bacon left the Circle to go out and work at his craft, returning a year later to be told that a movie company was casting for a film in the area. He investigated and landed the role of Chip in "National Lampoon 's Animal House." Thinking he had "made it as a big star," he returned from Hollywood to find he was not yet on the "must-cast" list, so he waited tables for almost ten months until things really started clicking. Bacon did such motion pictures as "Only When I Laugh," "Hero at Large" and "Friday the 13th." He appeared on television in the hit soaps "Search For Tomorrow" and "The Guiding, Light" and the made-for-television movie "The Gift." He was seen on the stage in the Phoenix Theater's acclaimed "Getting Out" and continued with the play when it ran Off-Broadway at the Theater de Lys.
Then along came "Diner," and an army of Kevin Bacon fans was born, including director Herbert Ross, who remembered the young actor when he was casting Footloose.
In the film, Bacon plays the central character, a teenager from Chicago who moves to a rural community where today's music and mores are suspect. He won the choice part even though it includes a demanding dance number, and Bacon had never danced professionally. His preparation for the role required not only dancing, but also gymnastic lessons since his character is a star athlete at school. Before tackling Footloose, Bacon worked Off-Broadway in several shows including "Poor Little Lambs" and also accomplished his Broadway debut in "Slab Boys" with Sean Penn. Additionally, he starred in a cable-TV film called "Enormous Changes at the Last Minute."
Kevin Bacon publicity still
Lori Singer, a concert cellist while still in her teens, began a second professional career when she won a starring role in the TV series "Fame." She took her acting career further, making her motion picture debut starring as the free-spirited Ariel in Footloose. Ms. Singer had just completed her second season in "Fame" and was appearing on the London stage with the "Fame Kids on Tour" when she was called back to the States to work with director Herbert Ross. If heredity is any indication, Ms. Singer came by her careers naturally. Her father, Jacques Singer, was the resident conductor for symphony orchestras in Dallas, Oregon and Vancouver, as well as a popular guest conductor who appeared with the Royal Philharmonic in London. Lori's mother, Leslie, was a concert pianist, and her twin brother Gregory is a gifted violinist. Lori, who began on piano at six and switched to the cello at nine, grew up performing trios and quartets with her family, and she made her solo debut at age 13 with the Oregon Symphony, performing a cello concerto by Edward Lalo. Her older brother Marc was also an actor, who starred in "If You Could See What I Hear," "Beastmaster" and the PBS Great Performances production of "The Taming of the Shrew."
Ms. Singer was born in Corpus Christi, Texas, and grew up in the cities where her father was conducting. The Singer house was always a center of activity. Utterly dedicated to the cello, Lori would be up at six in the morning practicing; her mother and father were busy performing and entertaining such musicians as Isaac Stern and Jacqueline DuPre, and her brothers and their friends were always in and out. It was a warm and inspirational environment. When she was 13, Ms. Singer's family moved to New York, and she attended Performing Arts High School first, then switched to Lincoln Square Academy and Juilliard, where she was first cellist in the school's concert orchestra and played solo with a variety of other groups. She also would perform with pick-up orchestras for extra money. Her musical career progressed steadily. She studied with the famous Leonard Rose at Juilliard and won the Bergen Philharmonic Competition. Soon she was concertizing in places ranging from Caracas, Venezuela to Lincoln Center, New York. During her stay at Juilliard, she also took an acting class for fun. "I'd always loved acting since I was very small," she recalled for People Magazine, "and was probably encouraged by the fact that my brother Marc was an actor." One day, when an actress friend of hers mentioned there was casting going on for the TV series "Fame," Ms. Singer decided to try for the part of a dancer. Although she was among 2000 other hopefuls, she won a key role. The producers, taken with her grace, first decided to cast her as a dancer, but the part was expanded to encompass Lori's musical skills as well and she became one of the show's principals.
Asked about the crossover between musician and actress, she pointed out: "The aesthetic experience is the same; it's only the material that's different. You express yourself through music in the one medium and through your body in the other." As for her role of Ariel in Footloose, she said: "Ariel is caught in this restrictive small town that she yearns to break out of. She's curious about what's happening out there in the world and wants a piece of it. She doesn't wish to hurt her father, who's the local reverend, but she doesn't necessarily believe all the things he believes. She ends up testing him and everyone around her, especially Ren (Kevin Bacon), to whom she's strongly attracted." In between sessions of "Fame," Ms. Singer appeared on television in the movie "Born Beautiful." Her next role after Footloose was opposite Timothy Hutton and Sean Penn in "Falcon and the Snowman."
Dianne Wiest was seen on Broadway as Desdemona in the acclaimed production of "Othello" and also in Christopher Durang's "Beyond Therapy," and was (and still is) valued by theater-goers for her work on New York stages. Also, she had appeared in the motion pictures "Independence Day" and "I'm Dancing As Fast As I Can" and made her third screen appearance in Footloose. Ms. Wiest plays a dutiful minister's wife, who seizes the opportunity to rediscover herself in the course of a family crisis.
Ms. Wiest was a native of Kansas City, Missouri, a self-described "Army brat" whose father retired from the service and became a professor at Louisiana State University. Her first ambition was to be a ballet dancer, and she had the good fortune in her 12th and 13th years to study at Balanchine's New York School of Ballet. However, her life direction changed when she was attending high school in Nuremberg, Germany, and appeared in a production of "Guys and Dolls." "I had a few lines and got a laugh," she recalled. "I immediately abandoned dance for drama."
During the course of her two-year stay at the University of Maryland, a Shakespearean troupe came through College Park and held auditions. She tried out and, when offered a leading part in "Comedy of Errors" and a bit part in "The Tempest," decided to cast her fate with the company. In addition to acting with the group, which played community centers and gymnasiums, she ironed costumes and put up flats. Unfortunately, the enterprise folded within three months, so Ms. Wiest headed for New York. While looking for stage work, she demonstrated rug cleaners at Woolworth's and waitressed. Then she was hired for the Children's Company at Alvin Brown's Long Wharf Theater. That troupe toured around doing special productions for youngsters, and she stayed with it for a year until getting a leading role in "Country People" and subsequently her Equity card. Ms. Wiest has performed with the New York Shakespeare Festival in "The Art of Dining," for which she won the Obie, Theatre World and Clarence Derwent Awards, "Leave It to Beaver is Dead," "Ashes," "Agamemnon " and "Museum."
In New York, she also did "Solitaire, Double Solitaire" at the Manhattan Theatre Club, "Three Sisters" and at the Phoenix, "Bonjour, La, Bonjour." Among her recent regional credits are Pinter's "Old Times" and "Ivanov" at the Williamstown Playhouse.She went on to award-nominated roles in The Birdcage and Bullets over Broadway.
John Lithgow had created a gallery of fascinating characters on screen, stage and television, establishing himself as one of the country's most proficient performers. Attesting to this is the Academy Award nomination he received for playing Roberta Muldoon, the pro-footballer who elected to spend the second half of his life as a woman, in "The World According to Garp," plus the Tony and Drama Desk Awards he won for his Broadway debut performance in "The Changing Room." Lithgow's portrayal in Footloose is that of a minister in a small town who, dedicated to family and congregation, has tried to make their world safe from doubt by doubting the world. Although Lithgow spent his earlier career years on Broadway and continued to be an active stage performer, he has a growing body of motion picture work that included "Rich Kids," "Obsession," "Blow Out" and "Twilight Zone - The Movie." He also had "All That Jazz" to his credit, so Footloose served as a reunion for him and Daniel Melnick, who was executive producer of "Jazz" too. While starring in Footloose, Lithgow concurrently acted in the film "Terms of Endearment." And following Footloose, he stepped right into a co-starring assignment in "Buckaroo Banzai." Born in Rochester, New York, Lithgow soon learned he was part of a theatrical family. His father, Arthur, one-time head of Princeton's McCarter Theatre, moved the family to Ohio during Lithgow's infancy and promptly began running Shakespeare festivals throughout the state. Lithgow, in fact, made his stage debut at six years of age in his father's production of "Henry VI, Part 3," which starred Ellis Rabb.
After a childhood steeped in traditions of the theater, Lithgow enrolled at Harvard to study English literature. The intent was to get away from what he had known all his life and learn to do something new. But his considerable expertise in both acting and directing soon resurfaced, and he was in constant demand for student productions. When a Fulbright Scholarship came his way, Lithgow used it to study at the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art. While in England, he acted and directed with both the Royal Shakespeare Company and the Royal Court Theater. Returning to the U.S., Lithgow settled in New York to pursue his stage career. After his award-winning premiere outing in "The Changing Room," Lithgow went on to appear in a different Broadway play each season. Taking them in order from 1973 through 1980, he performed in: "My Fat Friend," "The Comedians," "A Memory of Two Mondays," "Secret Service," "Anna Christie" (with Liv Ullmann), "Once in a Lifetime," "Spokesong" and "Division Street." During those same years, Lithgow also managed to work Off-Broadway as well, appearing in the New York Shakespeare Festival productions of "Hamlet," "Trelawny of the Wells" and "Salt Lake City Skyline."
Showing the caliber of his commitment to the theater, Lithgow had directed plays for such well-known companies as the Long Wharf, the Phoenix, the McCarter and the Baltimore Center Stage. Lithgow also found time in his busy schedule for television appearances in such noted specials as the live broadcast of "The Oldest Living Graduate" with Henry Fonda, and opposite Sally Kellerman in Dorothy Parker's "Big Blond" for PBS. He is currently starring in "Requiem for a Heavyweight" with Richard Dreyfuss at the Long Wharf Theater.
Elizabeth Gorcey was a screen newcomer whose personal zest spilled over into her acting. A hard-gore advocate of positive thinking, she's was shaping an important career for herself on big and small screens. In Footloose, she co-stars as Wendy Jo, a flip-talking and, to hear her tell it, fast-living high school belle. Ms. Gorcey was born on April 1 in Elberon, New Jersey, where she attended grammar school, and Long Branch High School. As a youngster, she wanted to become an actress but "grew out of it," taking up painting and sculpturing and winning contests with her art. In her late teens, she started getting active in community endeavors and did some singing with the Metropolitan Opera Company. Acting again took her fancy, and, after graduating at sixteen from high school, she won a summer scholarship to the American Conservatory Theater in San Francisco. Next came a year at the University of Arizona, where the pace was too slow for her. She did some summer stock at the Barn in Augusta, Michigan, in such productions as "Carousel," "Damn Yankees" and "My Fair Lady." "Overall, it was one of the worst experiences in my life," she remembered. "Everybody there was 25 or 26, and I was 17. And the overweight problem I've had for years finally became intolerable." She headed back East for home, got a real estate license, participated in a children's theater and started losing weight. Finding it impossible to believe she'd had such a bad time in Michigan, she decided to give Augusta a second try and returned the next summer. It was a success, and by the end of the season, she had her Equity card, which had been the point of the whole thing. Again she returned to New Jersey, enrolling full time at Monmouth College for marketing and business courses. Concurrently, she was putting together a portfolio, having photographs taken and assembling a resume.
During the holiday break from classes at college, she got an agent shortly after, she signed a contract for the PBS-TV series, "3-2-1, Contact." The show is about three young people who talk about the things they'd like to do and then go do them. Ms. Gorcey performed most of her own stunts, including hang-gliding and water-skiing. While on location with the series in Tucson, she noticed some strangers around the hotel pool reading scripts. She discovered they were there casting for the theatrical film "Kidco." More for the experience than anything, because she was committed to her series, she auditioned for the picture. Producer Frank Yablans was so impressed he arranged, financially and amicably, for her release from "3-2-1, Contact" so she could do "Kidco." Ms. Gorcey's other motion picture credits at the time included "Die Laughing" and "Stir Crazy," and she appeared in the TV movie "The Making of Emma." A point of interest: Elizabeth Gorcey is the niece of the late Leo Gorcey of "Dead End Kids" fame.
Sarah Jessica Parker
Sarah Jessica Parker, the popular star of the TV series "Square Pegs," performed on Broadway at the age of 11, starred two years later in "Annie," and has sung and danced with the Metropolitan Opera Company Sterling credentials, until co-starring in Footloose. In the film, she portrays a spirited and well-balanced teenager who is as content to stay put in her small hometown as her chums are determined to leave. Ms. Parker was born in Nelsonville, Ohio, the fourth oldest of eight children. Raised in Cincinnati, she began studying ballet when she was eight and appeared with the Cincinnati Ballet Company in "The Nutcracker," "The Firebird" and other productions. Expanding into acting, she appeared in two television specials, CBS's "The Little Match Girl" and NBC's "Nightmare." When she was 11, her father spotted a newspaper item announcing that a Broadway play was auditioning children. He jokingly asked Sarah and her older brother Toby if they'd like to try out. They headed for Manhattan, and the kids won the roles of the haunted children in "The Innocents" starring Claire Bloom.
The following year, Sarah's entire family moved to New York, and she danced with the American Ballet Theater at the Met. She also performed at the Manhattan Theater Club in "By Strouse," after which Charles Strouse recommended she audition for his Broadway musical, "Annie." She played the role of an orphan in that show for a year and then performed in the title role for another year. After her stay on Broadway, her schedule never slowed. She sang in several operas at the Metropolitan; did the TV special "My Body, My Child" starring Vanessa Redgrave; and appeared in both the syndicated television drama "Do Me a Favor, Don't Vote For My Mom" and in the motion picture "Rich Kids."
Ms. Parker was seen in the PBS special "Broadway Plays Washington, and she narrated TV's animated "Big Blue Marble." Just before coming aboard Footloose, she did a TV-cable movie called "Somewhere Tomorrow." Perhaps Sarah is currently best known for her starring role in the critically-acclaimed television series, "Square Pegs." She has three sisters and four brothers, and with four of her siblings appeared in a production of "The Sound of Music," starring Shirley Jones, that toured eight cities.
Christopher Penn had made three motion pictures in a row with only one month off between two of them. The triple play goes from Francis Ford Coppola's "Rumble Fish" to Michael Chapman's "All the Right Moves" to Footloose. Penn plays the best buddy of a teenager from Chicago who has moved to a rural community where today's music and morals are suspect. An interesting sidelight is that Penn does some dancing in the film, and since he is expert in karate, Ross and choreographer Lynne Taylor-Corbett worked karate movements into his routine. Christopher comes from the illustrious Penn family that includes his father Leo, actor turned director; his actress mother; and his older brother Sean. Even his brother, Michael, is in show business, as a successful musician. As a youngster, Christopher liked acting but, until reaching the age of 12 or so, he favored athletics, especially karate and wrestling. When he enrolled at Santa Monica High School, he had a history teacher, Leonard Vincent, who encouraged him to pursue a subject of deep interest, the Vietnam War. A next-door neighbor who was very important to the actor during his childhood had served in Vietnam, which contributed to Chris' decision to dedicate himself to learning about it, even to the point of interviewing numerous veterans.
The result was that young Penn wrote, produced, directed and co-starred in a film called "Nobody's Heroes." He started at 13, and the production covered a couple of years, with Penn getting assists from
Sean, his parents and his friends. The experience not only gave him a feeling of accomplishment but also convinced him to be serious about an acting career.
Penn took lessons from Peggy Fury, an actress friend of the family, and kept an eye out for a good part. Coppola delivered it with "Rumble Fish." Earlier, when the director was casting "The Outsiders," Chris had read for the producer Fred Roos, who liked the reading but had to turn down the young actor because there was no suitable role. But he said he'd remember Penn, and indeed championed him when he came in for a "Rumble Fish" reading.
While the casting of relatively unknown young actors in Footloose was a conscious effort to introduce a variety of fresh young faces to the motion picture screen, the film's original song score involves the talents of top names in contemporary music. Screenwriter Dean Pitchford collaborated on the nine original songs with Michael Gore, Tom Snow,. Bill Wolfer, Jim Steinman and Eric Carmen as well as singer-songwriters Kenny Loggins and Sammy Hagar. In addition to Loggins and Hagar, who recorded the songs they co-wrote for the film, Pitchford and music supervisor Becky Shargo signed an impressive array of recording artists for the soundtrack, including Bonnie Tyler, Shalamar, Deniece Williams, Karla Bonoff, Australia's Moving Pictures and, combining forces for a duet, Heart's Ann Wilson and Loverboy's Mike Reno.With the exception of the title track, which Pitchford and Loggins wrote while working through three drafts of the screenplay (and which came to inspire Herbert Ross' opening title sequence), most songs were written after Footloose had been shot and edited in order to best complement the specific scenes for which they were intended. The music was designed to be organic to the film's narrative, strongly tied to the action, with the energy of scenes coming as much from the music as from the action itself. Pitchford and his collaborators worked closely with director Herbert Ross on weaving the songs into the film. "Herbert employed many different tactics to communicate his points," noted Pitchford of the creative process by which the songs evolved. "He'd talk of the drive of the music, the effect of different rhythms, the character of certain harmonic changes. Sometimes he'd snap his fingers in tempo and make something perfectly clear or he'd illustrate how it moved him as a dancer. My collaborators would leave our meetings amazed at his ability to express his musical needs on so many levels."
I just happened to have this 35mm trailer in my collection
"Footloose" and "I'm Free (Heaven Helps the Man)"
Collaborator/Artist: Kenny Loggins
Producer: Kenny Loggins
Kenny Loggins had won four Grammy Awards over the course of an enormously successful career as a singer and songwriter. He began as half of the famous duo Loggins and Messina, spun off into a solo career and had written such classics as "Danny's Song," "What a Fool Believes," "I'm Alright" and "Don't Fight It" (co-written with Steve Perry and Dean Pitchford).
Kenny Loggins sings the title theme
"Let's Hear it for the Boy" Collaborator: Tom Snow
Artist: Deniece Williams
One of the most respected songwriters, Tom Snow has co-written such hits as "He's So Shy," "Make a Move on Me," "Somewhere Down the Road" and "You Should Hear How She Talks About You" (co-written with Dean Pitchford), for which Melissa Manchester won the Grammy Award as Best Female Pop Vocalist of 1982. Deniece Williams made a smash debut with the hit single "Free," and subsequently gained further success in her duet with Johnny Mathis, "Too Much, Too Little, Too Late." She again hit the top of the charts with her restyling of "Gonna Take a Miracle." This year she received a Grammy nomination for Best Female R&B Vocal for her recording of "I'm So Proud."
"Almost Paradise" Collaborator: Eric Carmen
Artists: Ann Wilson and Mike Reno
Eric Carmen topped the pop charts as a member of the rock group the Raspberries and later as a solo artist. His recording of his original composition "All By Myself" attained #1 status all over the world. He followed this success with the popular "Never Going to Fall in Love Again" and "Boats Against the Current." Lead singer Ann Wilson of Heart, and Mike Reno of Loverboy combined forces for the duet "Almost Paradise." Ann Wilson was a member of Heart, acclaimed as the first rock group led by women who not only performed but also wrote and produced their own material. Heart first rose to prominence with their debut album, "Dreamboat Annie" and have since garnered five platinum albums, an array of hit singles and recently released their eighth album, "Passionworks," produced by Keith Olsen.
Mike Reno was the lead singer of Loverboy, renowned as one of the finest touring acts in rock 'n' roll. Already known for their rock standards, "Turn Me Loose," "The Kid is Hot Tonite" and "Working For the Weekend," their debut album, "Loverboy," spent more than 100 weeks on the Billboard Top LP Chart followed by more than an 80-week run on the top charts for their second album, "Get Lucky."
"Holding Out for a Hero"
Artist: BONNIE TYLER
Producer: Jim Steinman
Jim Steinman made chart history by having two songs hold the #1 and #2 positions on the best-selling record chart simultaneously for almost two months. He wrote and produced Bonnie Tyler's smash "Total Eclipse of the Heart" and Air Supply's "Making Love Out of Nothing at All." Steinman had preciously created excitement in the music world with his writing and producing efforts on the first two Meatloaf albums, both of which sold over 5,000,000 copies worldwide. Bonnie Tyler sprang into international prominence with her hit, "It's a Heartache." In the intervening years, her search for the right producer eventually led her to Jim Steinman, who produced "Total Eclipse of the Heart." The album they put together, "Faster Than the Speed of Night," topped charts worldwide, and won a. Grammy nomination for Best Rock Vocal Album. Bonnie was also nominated for Best Female Pop Vocal for the single, "Total Eclipse of the Sun."
Collaborator: Tom Snow
Artist: Karla Bonoff
Producer: John Boylan
Karla Bonoff, composer of such classics as "Someone to Lay Down Beside Me," "Lose Again" and "If He's Ever Near," all sung by Linda Ronstadt, released her third album, "Wild Heart of the Young" during the production of Footloose. Her first album, "Karla Bonoff," contained such songs as "Home," "Isn't It Always Love" and "I Can't Hold On." She followed up with "Restless Nights" and such songs as "Only a Fool," "Trouble Again" and the title song, "Restless Nights."
John Boylan produced such rock 'n' roll greats as the Eagles, Linda Ronstadt, Boston, Quarterfish and the Little River Band.
"The Girl Gets Around"
Collaborator/Artist/Producer: Sammy Hager
Sammy Hager was a founding member of the popular rock group Montrose. He embarked on a solo career which earned fans for him throughout the world of rock. Popularly known as the "Red Rocker," Sammy's albums continued to sell in the millions, and his live performances were sell-outs throughout the world. Just before Footloose, Hagar collaborated with Rock Springfield on the hit, "I've Done Everything For You."
Collaborator: Michael Gore
Artist: Moving Pictures
Producer: John Boylan
Michael Gore won two Academy Awards for his work on the movie "Fame," for Best Score and Best Original Song ("Fame," co-written with Dean Pitchford). Another song he wrote for that picture, "Out Here on My Own," went on to sell 6,000,000 copies worldwide. Last year he co-wrote (with Dean Pitchfork) and produced Linda Clifford's #1 hit, "Don't Come Crying to Me." Gore recently wrote the score for Paramount Pictures' "Terms of Endearment." Moving Pictures was among the hottest of 80's Australian imports. The group held the record for the largest-selling single in the history of Australian music with the song "What About Me?"
"Dancing in the Sheets"
Collaborator/Producer: Bill Wolfer
Bill Wolfer spent seven years prior to Footloose touring, collaborating and playing sessions with such respected artists as the Jacksons, Stevie Wonder and Michael Jackson. Wolfer's remake of "Papa Was a Rolling Stone" was a top ten hit.
Final Notes and Release
Christopher Atkins was originally signed to play Ren, until Kevin Bacon was hired (Bacon turned down the lead in Christine to star in Footloose). Other considerations for the lead included Tom Cruise, John Travolta (who turned it down) and Rob Lowe. Cruise was of interest due to his dance in Risky Business. Daryl Hannah was offered the role of Ariel but instead chose to do "Splash.
Footloose was made with a low budget under $9 million and went on to earn over $80 million on its initial release, making the movie extremely profitable for Paramount. The soundtrack album went gold as did four singles on the album. The film was released February 17, 1984, filmed in 35mm using Panaflex cameras and lenses by Panavision in the 1.85:1 format in Dolby Stereo. The movie had mixed reviews. Roger Ebert stated that, "The film tries to do 3 things, to tell a story of a conflict in a small town, introduce some flashy characters and tries to be a music video, and does them all badly." On the other hand, Variety said, "In addition to his usual directorial skill and considerable choreographic experience, Herb Ross brings to Footloose an adult sensibility often lacking in troubled-teen pics. Dean Pitchford has come up with an integrated story line that works.
Footloose went on to earn two Oscar nominations for Best Original Song (Footloose and Let's Hear it for the Boy). It received a Golden Globe nomination for best original song for the title tune, and was nominated for a "Best Album" Grammy. It has continued to be a best-seller in all of its video formats, and has been resurrected in a sequel from Paramount currently playing in theaters starring Kenny Wormald as Ren and Julianne Hough as Ariel. The part of the Reverend Shaw Moore is now played by Dennis Quaid. This version had a $30 million budget.
Ever popular in the 90's was turning movies into Broadway shows, especially those with rock and pop soundtracks. Footloose, the Musical, directed by Walter Bobbie opened on Broadway at the Richard Rodgers Theater on October 22, 1998 and ran for 709 performances. The critics were very mixed on the production, but there were more negative reviews than positive. But the public seemed to feel differently, keeping the show open through July 2, 2000, enjoying the music and the dancing. Jeremy Kushnier played Ren and Jennifer Laura Thompson played Ariel.
The musical, after it opened underwent a revision involving changing of some of the musical numbers. For the Broadway show, over ten new songs were added, as the number of songs in the film could not sustain ther length of a full Broadway musical production. The musical then played London's West End where it played for six months and then toured England. The Broadway production was nominated for four Tony Awards but won none.
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Robert, Another great edition! Being 40yrs of age, this edition is a little more in my "wheelhouse", so I really appreciate the diversity in your Silver Screen editions! You'll be my hero if an Escape From New York edition makes an appearance!! Again great work, and keep 'em coming!!
I hate it when critics and reviewers say that Footloose is an 80's classic. It is certainly not! Few people think it is such and I am one of them. I love 80's movies, but this flick is a huge blemish, nay a stain on the teen culture of the 80's. It's so false in every aspect of religious indifference and family life that it makes a mockery of itself. Just ask yourself this one question, "Where the hell does all that glitter in the final dance scene come from?" Nowhere but an MTV cannon of falsehood. Sad, sad, sad.
Most sources of box-office information claim "Footloose" grossed about $80 million (domestic), not the $34 million claimed in the article. Unless, of course, the author was referring to the film's rental (i.e. the percentage of the gross that exhibitors paid to the distributor). Either way, it's misleading, as I imagine most readers will assume the author meant gross. If, however, the author wanted readers to literally interpret "earned over $34 million," then that wouldn't be accurate either because what the film actually earned would've been the rental minus the production and marketing cost.