ANNAPOLIS – The year is 1962. A pleasantly plump Baltimore teenager named Tracy Turnblad yearns to be a dancer on the popular after-school dance show hosted by Corny Collins. It’s the opening scene of the new film “Hairspray,” and Tracy begins to sing:
“Good Morning . . . Toronto?”
Unthinkable as it might be that the John Waters’ classic could be filmed anywhere but against the backdrop of Baltimore’s Formstone row houses and marble steps, that indeed could come to pass, according to Maryland film officials.
Originally filmed in 1988, then made into a smash hit on Broadway four years ago, Hairspray is set to be made into a movie again.
And Jack Gerbes, director of the Maryland Film Office, said that while the movie is still in the development stage, it’s not set in stone that it will be filmed in the state.
“We know they’re looking elsewhere,” he said of the production company, New Line Cinema.
A spokeswoman for New Line said no decisions have been made about “Hairspray’s” shooting location, as the film has not yet even been cast. She said that since the film is still in pre-production, any comment would be “premature.”
An assistant to Waters relayed a message from the flamboyant director saying he didn’t know anything about production of the new movie or where it would be shot.
But in testimony before the Senate Finance Committee on Wednesday, Dennis Castleman, Maryland’s assistant director for tourism, film and the arts, said that getting New Line to film the remake in Baltimore is something that is still being negotiated.
If Maryland is spurned by Hollywood as the natural location for a film, it wouldn’t be the first time.
“Annapolis,” a coming-of-age story about a young man who is accepted to the U.S. Naval Academy, which is set to be released on Jan. 27, was filmed in Philadelphia.
“That would be even more of a slap in the face than ‘Annapolis’ was, if ‘Hairspray’ was to be shot in Toronto,” Castleman said.
When asked about “Annapolis,” he jokingly told the senators: “Don’t watch it. Don’t go see it.” Finance Committee Chairman Thomas M. Middleton added, “We’ll have to get Tom Hanks and ‘Philadelphia 2’ filmed in Annapolis.”