take the lead press junket

hey kids – here comes a long post – phew! so you may have seen some promos recently for this new movie due in theaters on april 7th called take the lead – upon first
glance you might easily write this movie off as a piece of pop fluff – a
copycat of other movies – a cash in on all the recent ballroom dancing
madness (i.e. dancing with the stars) – but i can honestly say leave
your preconceived notions at the theater door!

i was able to catch an advance screening of the film last week – and to
my pop surprise & pleasure i totally enjoyed it! based on the true
life story of pierre dulaine who started an amazing program
within the NYC public schools – teaching kids life lessons through the
discipline and skills of ballroom dancing – starring antonio banderas as ‘dulaine’ –
alfre woodard as the tough as nails with a heart of gold HS
principal & rob brown (coach carter, finding forrester) and yaya dacosta (america’s next top model) as the high school student leads – the movie tells a story of how the
program came into existence within inner city schools – directed with exquisite energy by video
goddess liz friedlander – it’s a total feel good and uplifting
movie! of course no oscars here but you don’t always go to the movies
for oscar – sometimes you just want to escape and catch a good story and
surely take the lead fits that bill quite perfectly!

although it does borrow elements from previous films – i think this film
goes above and beyond others of the same genre – first off the
soundtrack is killer – featuring people ranging from q-tip to lena horne
swizz beatz did an excellent job handling the majority of the music –
second the dancing was so hot – there was not a single dance double –
and they danced a very cool infusion of hip-hop & traditional ballroom! and thirdly the life lessons taught through dance is something that really could be used in any school – the lessons have saved countless lives & spirits by providing a creative outlet while also learning

this weekend i was so lucky to be invited to attend the press junket for this
film – and was able to listen to & ask questions of a bunch of people
involved in the film – let’s start with who impressed me the most –
alfre woodard – oh my goodness – this lady was beyond fierce –
she talked for about 20 minutes – having only been asked two questions –
she talked & talked about her role as an educator in the film – she was
so commanding – i could have listened to her for hours – and i could not
get over how beautifully stunning she was in person – i have been a fan
of hers for quite some time (passion fish, grand canyon) – so i was
completely tickled pink to be in a small room with her – this film is SO
lucky to have landed her grace & charm – we didn’t get to chat on
desperate housewives but i am sure will we be seeing more of
‘betty applewhite’ soon…damn she is so fucking cool – you rock on ms.

and then my beloved antonio banderas came into the room ( i did not spot wife melanie griffith – although i am so sure she must have been close by as always!) i
wasn’t sure what to expect but very quickly i realized he was one of the
most real & passionate humble people i have ever met – wearing a kinda
sexy denim shirt – his hair slightly wet (which was up for a dye job – a
bit gray overall) – he was like a giddy school child – it’s so obvious
he is such a genuine person who truly loves what he does – when asked on
his career – he said he has friends who tell him to pick his movies
better and to not work so much but he basically said he doesn’t care about
his career! he compared acting to skiing – if you love to ski – you ski all the time – and he loves to
act and wants to be act all the time…

antonio went on about his love of theater and how much fun he had doing
nine on broadway and may star in a a production of ‘don juan
demarco’ on broadway next year – he even purchased a house in new york
so he could be closer to the theater – one woman asked him about one of
my favorite directors pedro almodovar who antonio had done a
bunch of movies with him early on in his career (el matador, law of
desire) – banderas spoke with great respect about him and would love to
work with him again – that would be so hot! antonio also shared his own
love of directing and we should be seeing his second directorial effort
(first was the ill-received crazy in alabama in ’99) – i was just very
impressed by his whole demeanor and attitude and completely could see
how they picked him to play real-life figure pierre dulaine

which leads me to pierre dulaine – who was there in person – his
true life story rights were purchased over five years ago and now with
take the lead finally hitting theaters – he seemed quite proud
and happy with the film – i could totally see why producers wanted
Banderas to play him – they both have the same zest & energy for life
and that clearly shined through! below is a picture of antonio with the
real pierre!

we were also able to talk with screenwriter dianne houston – who was
so graceful and has been staying strong and busy in hollywood for years
– director liz friedlander was quite proud of her first directed
movie after working in music videos for ages – and producers diane nabatoff
and chris godsick were also on hand to provide some insight to the marketing of the film plus the history of bringing this story to the big screen (the rights
were purchased over five years ago!) – i really do think this movie will
be a hit and with the stars seeming to align perfectly with this
resurgence of ballroom dancing popularity – i think the zeitgeist at the
moment will be able to provide a nice healthy box-office – i will
mention the movie again when it hits theaters next week – popbytes over
& out for now – xxoo!

PS shit how could i forget yaya dacosta and rob brown – both were very nice and friendly – rob even shook everybody’s hand! yaya was all smiles and was strikingly beautiful in person – and although she didn’t want to talk about ‘america’s next top model’ – when asked about it she quickly glazed over it and moved on – she was quite the pro in handling herself in a press situation! all in all popbytes had a blast! many special thanks to nicole, stephanie, and tasha for making this happen!

Photos: ©2006 Kerry Hayes / New Line Productions

About MICHAEL KNUDSEN 5716 Articles
MK (Michael Knudsen) first started PopBytes back in September of 2003—while trying to make a website for his design portfolio, the site quickly turned into one of the premiere online destinations for all things pop culture! A native New Yorker, he currently resides in Los Angeles with his partner Ivan along with four dogs, four cats and two parrots. Follow him on Twitter @PopBytes.