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Marshall Law

Rob Marshall had only one rule when it came to adapting Bob Fosse ’s original "Chicago " for Miramax — to break every rule..That meant not having any character sing a song to another one or breaking into song and dance spontaneously,à...

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Rob Marshall had only one rule when it came to adapting Bob Fosse ’s original "Chicago " for Miramax — to break every rule..That meant not having any character sing a song to another one or breaking into song and dance spontaneously,à la Gene Kelly or Fred Astaire.

"You used to be able to accept people dancing in their living rooms," sighed the 42--year-old di- rector-choreographer one morning at the Four Seasons in Beverly Hills,after the resounding Los Angeles premiere."People won ’t do that now.I read one script,an early version,where we open on a shot of the city,and we pan down to a man- hole cover — out pops a construction worker,,who starts singing,‘Come on,babe …’ And then it got more awful.I hate those cringey moments when you ’re thinking,‘Oh — they ’re about to sing.’ They belong on a stage — not the street.."

Clearly,Marshall is onto something.Thursday morning,the Hollywood Foreign Press awarded "Chicago " eight Golden Globe nominations — more nods than any other film received — includ-- ing one for Marshall himself,and nominations for stars Renée Zellweger,Catherine Zeta-Jones and Richard Gere,as well as "Chicago " costars Queen Latifah and John C.Reilly.And at each of the film ’s three premieres — Los Angeles,,New York and London — jaded movie--biz types clapped after every single number,not one of which is particu- larly derivative of the Fosse signature style.

"I ’m particularly proud that we didn ’t actually use the Fosse vocabulary," explains Marshall,,who went from choreographing on Broadway to co-di- recting Bob Fosse ’s "Cabaret " with Sam Mendes on-- stage before directing the well-received television version of "Annie " in 1999.."I would never do wa- tered-down Fosse.I was looking for my own way."

Instead Marshall was inspired by the film "King of Jazz," made in 1930;;Ken Burns ’ recent Jazz series and work by vaudeville painter Reginald Marsh.

All of the numbers composed by John Kander and Fred Ebbs,former Fosse collaborators,were in- spired by traditional vaudeville acts,and every act was performed entirely by Zellweger,Zeta-Jones and Gere,as the film ’s ending credits point out.
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