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Students At 'Fame' School Nervous About Remake


From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Melissa Block.

The remake of the 1980 film "Fame" opened in theaters this weekend, but unlike other high school musicals, this one has its roots in a real-life setting: the Fiorello H. LaGuardia High School of Music & Art and Performing Arts in New York City. Lara Pellegrinelli visited the prestigious school to hear what its students think about their glamorous Hollywood proxies.

LARA PELLEGRINELLI: Students at LaGuardia usually embrace the spotlight, but maybe not this week. Practically everyone's got an opinion on the original film, including drama major Zora Howard(ph).

Ms. ZORA HOWARD (Student): "Fame" is nice, and the dancing on the cabs is nice.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Ms. HOWARD: But this is a very, very serious arts institution.

PELLEGRINELLI: So what is it really like to go to LaGuardia? My day began at 8 a.m. in AP calculus.

Mr. TAYLOR PATTERSON(ph) (Student) …as X approaches C, (unintelligible) raised to the K power.

Ms. LUCY PARTMAN(ph) (Student): We really are strong academic students, and we spend so much time devoting ourselves and balancing, learning how to balance the art world and the academic world. And I think that's one of the most valuable lessons that we can learn here.

PELLEGRINELLI: Lucy Partman is an art major. She and Taylor Patterson are both seniors, and plan to go to college when they graduate next spring.

Ms. PARTMAN: Senioritis? No, not for us.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Ms. PARTMAN: Like, nope, nu-uh. Like, I have…

Unidentified Woman #1: …three APs.

Ms. PARTMAN: …yeah, three APs, two APs, like Honors, like these crazy classes…

Unidentified Woman #2: Ten periods.

Ms. PARTMAN: …10 periods a day when you could have, like…

Unidentified Woman #2: Two.

Ms. PARTMAN: …two academics.

Mr. PATTERSON: And we start from 8 o'clock, and we go to 4 o'clock.

Ms. PARTMAN: 8 to 4…

Unidentified Woman #3: With rehearsal after school.

Ms. PARTMAN: …with rehearsal, yes. I don't get home until 7 because I have rehearsal for the musical every day, which started on the second day of school.

PELLEGRINELLI: Long days and hard work were common for all the students I spoke with: Samantha Bariento(ph), Carlos Kerr Jr.(ph), Paul Reagan(ph), Lionel Christian(ph) and Julian Langford(ph). Not counting rehearsals and extra training after school, the teens spend at least three periods a day studying their chosen fields, like this modern dance class for freshmen.

(Soundbite of music)

PELLEGRINELLI: If LaGuardia students weren't responsible, dedicated and talented, the school wouldn't have such a long list of successful alumni. Actors Wesley Snipes and Adrien Brody, architect Charles Gwathmey, TV producer Steven Bochco, songwriter Suzanne Vega, dancer Desmond Richardson and novelist Erica Jong, to name a few.

(Soundbite of music)

Unidentified Woman #4: And one, one, one - and exit.

PELLEGRINELLI: According to principal Kim Bruno, the film production team that briefly visited wasn't interested in much about the real school of the arts. She would have liked Debbie Allen, who plays her fictional counterpart, Principal Simms, to stop by and see how the job is really done.

Ms. KIM BRUNO (Principal, Fiorello H. LaGuardia High School of Music & Art and Performing Arts): Debbie Allen, my door is open. Come and be principal for a day at LaGuardia, the real "Fame" school.

PELLEGRINELLI: For NPR News, I'm Lara Pellegrinelli in New York. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.