The Director's Chair: Adam Shankman's Hairspray Diary #9

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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!

Nikki Blonsky, Nikki Blonsky, WHAT A BEAUTIFUL, BEAUTIFUL NAME

So after an exhaustive search, things are going to turn out exactly how I thought.† It's going to be Nikki Blonsky, the girl from Great Neck, New York, who worked in the Coldstone Creamery.† I couldn't help myself but to keep going back over and over again to her audition on my laptop.† There was something just so honest, so refreshing, so sweet and so genuine that she was in fact, a seventeen year-old girl from a working class family who literally lived to perform and who happened to be beautiful.† Plus size beautiful.† It just was the clincher.† I couldn't get past the fact that she was seventeen.† It's all that I kept obsessing over.† The fact that she had a great voice and a smile that drove me insane with happiness really made it all happen.††

I had her come to Baltimore where Zac danced her, and of course she wasn't the greatest dancer but she was the most exuberant dancer.† She came in and screen tested against our three other candidates who were in the final four, and at the end of the day people were just unwilling to commit to the decision except for me.† I had wavering support and at the end of the day, I went out and it was Nikki and will be forever Nikki.† I had to tape a message that they were going to play for her at Coldstone Creamery in order for her to find out that she got the part.† She's going to die. I hope she doesn't because I need her to knock the rest of the world dead.

More tomorrow with entry #10...

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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.