The Director's Chair: Adam Shankman's Hairspray Diary #15

July 25
1:10 PM 2007 has an exclusive look into the making of the movie musical HAIRSPRAY with this special Director's Diary written by Adam Shankman. Check back daily for new entries!


It's 4:30am - oye.  Last night was one of the most exhausting shooting nights of my life.  We had to conquer the entire last part of "Welcome to the 60s," which included almost a hundred dancers, with John and Nikki in the middle of the triangle. The day was so long because New Line invited what seemed like a hundred foreign distributors, who were totally unfamiliar with "Hairspray" since it hasn't toured Europe or the rest of the world save for one Norwegian production - or was it Finnish? So they were trying to acquaint the rest of the world with what it is that we're doing here. 

Everybody was half-dressed; we did a show and tell in a giant room near the triangle on Dundus right below Blore.  And the dancers were made up in costume with a little bit of hair and a little bit of make-up and a lot of "looky-loos" in the street.  It was near sunset when we rehearsed over and over again.  John was in mid-make-up so it was Zac Woodley was dancing with Nikki, which makes me laugh.  I'm trying the "Funny Girl" hairstyle on Nikki, the funny beehive with the rosettes.  And I like the idea that Tracy has a new do in this particular scene.  Hells Bells, she gets a makeover.  Edna gets a makeover, so why not change things up?  After the crowds had left, or at least the invited crowds, we set up our five cameras, dollies, cranes, steady cams, you name it. Later, I'm gonna add cerucci fireworks into the end so that it has a real pop.  The exteriors look like a downtrodden Baltimorean version of Las Vegas at the very end.  I have no idea exactly how I'm going to do that since there's no neon, but I'd say for the beauty shot, dare to dream, right? 

Tonight is John's first night actually dancing. It's sort of scary.  He's running around in those giant fake legs, giant fake body, Pet Pink Cleary Dress - the pink sequence dress - and I have a feeling he was having problems breathing, because it was just an enormous amount of  work.  I started to laugh at the opening entrance - he and Nikki have to run so far, that they're completely sprinting, holding shopping bags getting out of the door to get to their marks on time.  The streets are wet so that they'll have a pretty shine to them, reflecting all the light.  And we didn't even get to the tumbling pass until 5 o'clock in the morning.  Everybody was dying.  John seems to like to work at this hour.  Oye, is this what the whole shoot is going to be like?  You've got to give props to everybody; they worked their hinies off.  Jamal, Zac, Joey and Mama.  All running around from dancing group to dancing group making corrections.  It was mayhem. I'm just going to have to cross my fingers and hope for the best.  I think it will look good.  Halfway through the night, I just started to move the camera between every take so that I'd have different angles.  This section needs a lot of cutting, I can tell, because we keep having to move dancers in order to fill up the square triangle.  I got home at 9:30am.  That's show biz.

More tomorrow with entry #16...

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Adam Shankman Adam Shankman is a master of comedy yet is still able to capture the sensitivity of each story, making him one of the most loved and commercially successful filmmakers of his generation.

Currently in post-production on Hairspray, Shankman is bringing the feature film adaptation of the Tony award-winning Broadway production to life with a remarkable collection of talent including John Travolta, Queen Latifah, Michelle Pfeiffer, Christopher Walken. Hairspray is scheduled for a July 2007 release from New Line Cinema.

Shankman is also in pre-production on Bedtime Stories, which he will direct and executive produce through his Offspring Entertainment banner for Walt Disney Studios, with Adam Sandler set to star. Additionally, Shankman is producing an Untitled Project in the works also through Offspring, with Hairspray star Zac Efron set to star. He is also producing, through Offspring, All Of Me, starring Queen Latifah and based upon the 1984 film starring Steve Martin and Lily Tomlin.

Shankman and Gibgot?s Offspring Entertainment are set to produce Monday Monday, a film about a neurotic teenager forced to relive the first day of high school until he gets it right. Offspring Entertainment is also producing an adult treasure hunt project in association with Benderspink.

Most recently, Shankman produced the Sandra Bullock film, Premonition, as well as Step Up for Walt Disney Studios. Step Up, directed by his co-choreographer Anne Fletcher, garnered critical acclaim and grossed over $100 million at the box office. The sequel Step Up 2, directed by John Chu, is scheduled to begin production this summer. In addition, Shankman recently directed the box office success, Cheaper by the Dozen 2, the sequel to the 2003 20th Century Fox smash hit family film.

Shankman began crafting an enviable career with his directorial debut, Columbia Pictures' The Wedding Planner. The Jennifer Lopez and Matthew McConaughey film was the heart-felt hit of 2001. Shankman's following grew with his next film A Walk to Remember, distributed by Warner Bros., starring Mandy Moore and Shane West. A Walk to Remember was nominated for a 2002 Phoenix Film Critics Award for Best Live Action Family Film.

Shankman followed this up with Bringing Down the House, a Walt Disney comedy starring Steve Martin and Queen Latifah which was number one at the box office for three weeks in a row, grossing over $130 million. Shankman followed that up by directing another Disney film, The Pacifier starring Vin Diesel. To date, Shankman?s films have grossed over a half-billion dollars.

Prior to directing, Shankman was one of the entertainment world's premiere dance and physical comedy choreographers, putting his creative stamp on many well-known comedies, dramas, thrillers, and animated films. His projects include The Addams Family, Casper, Inspector Gadget, Anastasia, George of the Jungle, Boogie Nights, Miami Rhapsody, and The Flintstones for which he was nominated for a Bob Fosse Award. Shankman won the Bob Fosse award for his work with Simon West.

At age 24, Shankman teamed up with influential video director Julian Temple as a music video choreographer. One of the first videos as choreographer was Whitney Houston's "I'm Your Baby Tonight." He has also choreographed videos for The B-52's, Barry White, Aaron Neville, Chic and Stevie Wonder.

A native of Los Angeles, Shankman developed a love for the theater at an early age. After high school, he moved to New York and attended the Juilliard School.

After five years as an actor and dancer in New York and regional theater, he moved back to Los Angeles and began dancing in music videos, including videos for Paula Abdul and Janet Jackson. He also performed at the 1989 Academy Awards.