By Jeff Sneider (Variety)
Lionsgate has tapped “High School Musical” helmer Kenny Ortega to direct its remake of “Dirty Dancing,” the 1987 romance pic for which he choreographed stars Patrick Swayze and Jennifer Grey.
Ortega and Debra Martin Chase (“The Princess Diaries”) will produce the pic, which is a modernization that will incorporate songs from the original, as well as classic songs from the 1960s and new compositions.
Story chronicles a teen girl’s forbidden romance with a dancer.
Eleanor Bergstein, the writer and co-producer of the original film, is in discussions with Lionsgate to be involved in the remake in a producer capacity.
Lionsgate’s Alli Shearmur will oversee the project for the studio.
“The opportunity to direct ‘Dirty Dancing’ is like returning home for me,” said Ortega. “Growing up in the ’60s on the dance floor helped define me as a person and as an artist. I am looking forward to assembling a great creative team and an exciting cast to bring ‘Dirty Dancing’ to the screen for a new generation.”
“Patrick Swayze set the bar for men dancing in the movies as Gene Kelly and Fred Astaire did before him,” added Ortega, who also thanked Bergstein “for originally choosing me to choreograph ‘Dirty Dancing’ and for her continuous support.”
“The fans remain legion and engaged more than ever with a brand that is special and vital to them,” said Lionsgate prexy Joe Drake.
“This remake of Dirty Dancing presents an exciting opportunity to both celebrate what has made this movie so beloved and refresh and enhance it so that new audiences can claim it as their own,” said Chase.
Ortega, who helmed two episodes of the 1988 “Dirty Dancing” TV series, last directed Sony’s Michael Jackson pic “This Is It,” which grossed more than $260 million worldwide.
Ortega is repped by Paradigm, McDonald/Selznick Associates and attorney Steve Warren, while Chase is repped by attorney Michael Gendler. Lionsgate’s Rob McEntegart negotiated their deals on behalf of the studio.
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