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Michael Jackson Pic ‘Is It’ for Director Kenny Ortega

October 28th, 2009 Leave a comment Go to comments

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Variety reports that the upcoming remake of the 80s dance romp, Footloose, is now without a director. A rep from Paramount Pictures says,

“Coming off the extraordinary project, Michael Jackson‘s This is It, director Kenny Ortega has decided it is premature for him to commit to his next film and will not be moving forward with Footloose as previously reported.”

It is the second high-profile dropout for the musical remake. Last spring, Zac Efron, who’s also linked to Ortega through the High School Musical franchise, turned down the lead role in order to pursue other projects. He was later replaced by Gossip Girl‘s Chace Crawford.

Speculation has it that the trepidation of the last six months has taken its toll on Ortega. He was to choreograph Michael Jackson’s “This Is It” tour until the pop star’s untimely death in June. All of a sudden, the rehearsal footage he had shot for concert promoter AEG became an extremely hot commodity.

It set off a bidding war which Sony ended up winning, thanks in no small part to their ownership of Jackon’s pop catalogue. In his death, the Thriller hitmaker has proven to be a ghostly cash machine.

It all comes to a head today, when This Is It finally hits theaters. Ortega will no doubt have the biggest opening of his career–some say the pic could gross upwards of $250 million in four days. And if fans are as impressed with the concert movie as Jackson’s close friend Elizabeth Taylor, then This Is It may even go past that mark.

The Hollywood icon was in attendance at a special screening of it last week at MGM studios and wrote via her blog:

“It is the single most brilliant piece of filmmaking I have ever seen. It cements forever Michael’s genius in every aspect of creativity. I wept from pure joy at his God given gift. There will never, ever be the likes of him again. And we have this piece of film to remind us forever and ever that once there was such a man. God kissed him. I truly believe this film should be nominated in every category conceivable.”

I don’t blame Ortega for turning his back on Footloose. He’s had a hell of a year and the intensity of This Is It–both the making of it and the public reaction–will probably affect him many years to come. As for AEG and Sony, they’ll just keep collecting the profits.

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