The Director's Chair: Adam Shankman's Hairspray Diary #8

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BroadwayWorld.com 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!

THE NICEST KIDS IN HAIRSPRAY

We have auditioned what seems like every person under 25 to play the roles of Link, Seaweed, Amber, Penny and Corny for what seems like weeks and weeks and weeks. Once again my brain has turned into scrambled eggs but some interesting people have surfaced for me.† †

Brittany Snow, who I worked with on THE PACIFIER, is a favorite.† She didn't do exactly what I hoped she would in the auditions.† I think she was just so nervous auditioning in front of me again because we are friends, but I have ultimate faith in her.† I also found Hayden Panettiere interesting to play Amber, but I think she has a pilot called HEROES that is going to be picked up, so she is sort of knocked out of the race.† I really want to go with Brittany. I know that she really wants to do this and I really have the most fun with her and I think in my heart of hearts that she is going to be perfect.†

As far as Link is concerned, my sister kicked the crap out of me for dismissing Zac Efron from HIGH SCHOOL MUSICAL.† I thought he was too Disney and didn't really understand what was so special about him besides the fact that he has the most beautiful eyes on the planet and a smile that has broken the hearts of millions.† So I brought him back in to see if I could work with him after she screamed at me for about an hour about how if I didn't cast him, I would be costing the movie millions of dollars and realized that's exactly what the problem was.† His smile was too broad and a little too Disney-like, so once I told him to stop smiling and read it again with a little smoke in his voice, arch his eyebrow and give me a wink when he met me; I suddenly knew I had found my Link. It was perfect.† I can't wait to chop off that hair, dye it black and give him an Elvis "do".† It will be like Sampson loosing his strength for a second, but then he'll recover at tenfold.†

As far as Penny is concerned, Amanda Bynes came in and has been aggressively trying to get the part, like a pit-bull grabbing on, locking jaws and shaking us until she gets it. I was very surprised she wants it, because she is a movie star in her own right and easily opens movies by herself.† Penny, albeit is a great part, but it's certainly not the starring role.† I love her; I think she is like the next Lucille Ball.† I am pretty sure I am just going to cast her.

As far as Seaweed is concerned, Elijah Kelly came in, I saw him, and I cast him.† There was no two ways about it for me.† We had been searching all over the country for him in our open calls but this kid has everything and spades. He's gorgeous, he's talented, he can sing the hell out of everything and I just love his energy.†

None of them are the best dancers I have ever seen and the choreography team is going to have to work really, really hard to get them up to snuff, but I think we're going to do great. I'm really, really loving the cast so far.†

Side note. I have no idea who is going to play Corny Collins. I was really interested in Hugh Jackman.† Joey McIntyre, etc. etc.† And David Rubin showed me a tape of James Marsden, believe it or not, Cyclops from the X-MEN Movies, singing on Ally MacBeal. He was the end of the line but it felt like the greatest discovery of all.† Jimmy Marsden is the next Michael Buble and Frank Sinatra, all rolled up into one.† He is unbelievable. I can't wait to chop off his hair too and make him look like a young Dick Clark.

This is getting really exciting!

More tomorrow with entry #9...

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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.