All about the new 'Footloose,' directed by Memphis' Craig Brewer

USA Today goes big today with a "first look" at the new version of "Footloose," directed by Memphian Craig Brewer and due in theaters on Oct. 14. Starring newcomer Kenny Wormald (in the role played by Kevin Bacon in the 1984 hit) and Julianne Hough of "Dancing with the Stars," the remake updates its setting and characters to suit the different times.

That's where Craig Brewer comes in. Even though there's a November chill inside this unheated industrial space, there also is a sense of excitement -- much of it coming from Brewer's passion for his dream project even as shooting winds down. The filmmaker, 39, whose sexy Southern-fried steam permeates 2005's Hustle & Flow and 2007's Black Snake Moan, spent much of his 13th year in thrall to Footloose.

"I had the soundtrack in my Walkman all the time," he says. "I constantly played it."

Brewer, who fought to have the movie shot in Tennessee (it was shot in Georgia instead), was not the first choice to direct "Footloose," but it bears his stamp both visually and in the script. In fact, the film opens with something of a surprise twist:

Brewer took a crack at the script and adjusted it to mesh with his grittier sensibilities. In the first Footloose, some members of the congregation who oppose dancing come off as out-of-control zealots, even burning library books at one point. To make their objections more understandable and less fanatical, Brewer chose to have the first scene of his movie reflect the real reason for the ban -- something that is spoken about in the original but never shown: a tragic auto accident three years earlier that killed five high school seniors, including Ariel's older brother, after they went to a keg party with drinking and dancing.

The director also insisted on a normal-looking high school student body and natural dance routines, according to a sidebar to the USA Today story.

"I told Jamal (Sims, the choreographer) my worry was that it is going to look like the dancers had been on diets for the last four years. This is a Southern high school and, let me tell you, there are all types of body shapes and sizes and colors. We need to reflect it. I didn't want some fantasy world. I want real kids."

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Deputy Online News Editor Mark Richens takes you through all the news about Memphis from sources outside the Mid-South.