The Director's Chair: Adam Shankman's Hairspray Diary #2

July 11
11:28 AM 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!


Sept. 29th.  Oh my GOD.  I got the job.  I can't freakin' believe it. I was told yesterday and went into shock. I can't believe that I actually auditioned for this movie for over a year and here I am.  This is like winning the director's version of the lottery for me.  They're allowing me to choreograph it as well which means that I better get back to dance class because I'm pretty much, WAY out of shape. I was driving to the gym this morning and I heard it on the news.  The radios were announcing that I got the job.  I was actually watching the news at the gym and on CNN it was also announced.  Why is this stuff such a big deal?  I guess this stuff is just all beyond me.  This is going to be the greatest time of my life and I am going to make a firm commitment right now to enjoy everyday of this and remember every single moment of this experience.  I'm living my dream come true.  Marc and Scott called me. I can't believe we are all going to be working together like this.  My parents are proud beyond words.  My sister, who is my producing partner can't believe how excited we are.  I literally just can't wait to get started.

One of the first things I did when I found out that I had gotten the job was to reach out and try to get John Waters email address and phone number.  I was in Baltimore at the time producing the movie STEP UP and I knew that he lived in Baltimore, so I thought it was appropriate to reach out.  I was such a dork.  I believe that I texted him "Dear Mr. Waters, My name is Adam Shankman and I don't know if you know me or not, but I was hired to direct HAIRSPRAY, blah, blah blah."  Who knows what I said after that.  But soon after, I can't believe it; I got an email back from him saying "Let's have lunch tomorrow and rowdy congratulations."  My heart sunk. I went into a panic. I was terrified.  In the world of HAIRSPRAY, John Waters is GOD. The creator of all things. Yahweh.  Numero Uno. Big Cheese.  The highest hairdo on the block. 

So I ended up going to lunch at a lovely restaurant in Baltimore with Mr. Waters, who was so sweet to me I was actually beside myself.  After telling me that he had told the creative team behind the Broadway show to not do what he did in his movie, but to do their own thing, which he said he told them and, "I am now saying to you. You have to do your own thing. The story is only good when it's told that way."  After scooping my jaw up off the floor, John threw me in his car and took me on a tour of Highland Town, where he shot most of the original movie.  I couldn't believe the amazing formed stone, the painted screens and one after another, hair salons lining the street.  Apparently, time had stopped in the area.  It was beautifully preserved and I etched it in my mind forever.  I knew what the movie had to look like as soon as I was in the area, because I had to be true to what John had started.


More tomorrow with Entry #3...

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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.