Director Kevin Tancharoen on the Perils of Fame ... and That Line About YouTube (It's Not in the Movie)

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While MGM's Fame reboot isn't exactly sending the critics, it does have its supporters (The A.V. Club says it "respects the original" and is a "raw, uplifting love letter to creativity in every possible form," and the NY Times says, "[While it] suffers from a surfeit of flash, it nonetheless offers the undeniable power of young performers pursuing art at peak dexterity."). We talked with its first-time feature director, Kevin Tancharoen -- a choreographer and music video director who staged Britney Spears's Onyx Hotel Tour and the video for "Me Against the Music," her duet with Madonna -- about his inspirations in reviving the 1980 musical relic, and our increasingly fame-obsessed and talent-show-oriented culture.

Had you directed any short films before diving into Fame?

No. You know, anything I've ever shot had always been for something very specific, like videos for Britney on tour. I always wanted to direct. This just happened to come up. I really didn't think I was going to get it, but there's been a trend in choreographers turning into directors, whether it be Rob Marshall, Adam Shankman, Anne Fletcher. There's a handful of choreographers that make the transition.

Why do you think there seems to be a big move towards that right now?

I don't know. I would actually be very interested in talking to the people who hire. But there is a trend there.

What was your pitch?

I went in and said, listen, I love Fame. I think it's fantastic, but you can't recast those characters. I said, they're all so perfect, but what you have to do is to take the idea and the message and the integrity and the grittiness and translate it to a 2009 tale. Because something that was so good about the first one was that it really painted pictures of characters living in 1980.

Who were your influences?

My influences are a little bit more classic than one might think because of my background. I didn't reference any music videos. I mean if there were any music videos, it would be videos by a romantic. And all of my influences on these kinds of genre movies were movies like All That Jazz, or Gene Kelly, Busby Berkeley, Stanley Donen, Fred Astaire, Nicholas Brothers, that kind of stuff that I grew up loving. Because those sequences were just pure talent and the camera didn't overcompensate with just pure editing. And I don't like that, you know, complaint cliche that everything's been edited together so fast you don't know what the hell is going on, because you can't see or appreciate anything. So they liked that my influences really kind of were a little more old school.

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