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Tim Curry’s participation in Fox TV’s The Rocky Horror Picture Show helped erode fan resistance to a remake of the 1975 cult film, producer Lou Adler said.
“As you can imagine, when we announced we were doing this there was a tremendous backlash from fans who have been with us for 40 years,” said Adler, who was behind both the big-screen original and the Fox version airing in October.
“That all loosened up,” he said, when Curry signed on to the role of Narrator. The actor played scientist and transvestite Dr. Frank-N-Furter in the film.
“You really made the difference,” director-choreographer Kenny Ortega told Curry during a Q&A with TV critics about the project.
“It was a blessing. I loved being there,” Curry replied. Asked how he felt about Frank-N-Furter being his most enduring role, his reply was droll.
“That’s not much I can do about it, really,” he said.
The lovefest resumed when producers discussed the performance of Laverne Cox (Orange is the New Black) as the new Frank-N-Furter. Cox didn’t participate in the panel.
“She had so much to give to it,” Ortega, also a producer on the project, said of Cox, citing her depth of talent, life experience and “incredible respect” for the movie. He recalled the first day of rehearsal for the cast album, when Cox performed “Sweet, Sweet Transvestite” with Curry, who uses a wheelchair, sitting alongside the pianist.
When she finished, Ortega said, Curry was the first to respond, shouting “bravo!”
There was a note of cynicism introduced, this from reporters who asked why a remake of a beloved film was needed.
Ortega replied that the remake gives an “incredible cast” the opportunity to bring new life to the characters with “vivacity and creativity.”
The stars include Ben Vereen as Dr. Everett Scott, Staz Nair as Rocky, Ryan McCartan as Brad Majors and Victoria Justice as Janet Weiss.
The TV movie, airing Oct. 20, also incorporates the audience-participation element — including costumes and commentary — that ultimately became a staple of the film’s late-night screenings in theaters.
Justice, playing the role filled by Susan Sarandon in the movie, said she’s a longtime “Rocky Horror” fan herself: She saw the film first as a fifth-grader and attended one of those midnight showings, at age 15 and in fishnet stockings and feather boa, with her mom.
“I’d never seen anything like it before in my life,” including the music and the campiness, Justice said, calling the part “a dream come true.”