TV's 'Fame' Reboot Won't Shy Away from 1980 Movie's "Darker" Themes, Says Nigel Lythgoe

The drama, produced by MGM Television and A+E Studios, has a home at Lifetime.
Mathieu Young

The Fame reboot is inching closer to becoming reality, albeit slowly.

Executive producer Nigel Lythgoe (So You Think You Can Dance, American Idol) tells The Hollywood Reporter that the first script -- penned by Gossip Girl and Smash alum Josh Safron -- is in and being read.

The drama, produced by MGM Television and A+E Studios, has been picked up by Lifetime, although it's still a long way from filming, never mind a completed pilot. But should the show go to series, it will, like its early 1980s originator, once again focus on a group of young adults balancing career pressures while striving to succeed at an elite performing arts school.

Lythgoe offers that the themes of the original Fame still resonate today. “The way you seek out fame is by going on the Internet and posting it yourself," he explains. "It’s amazing. It’s instant fame, and it’s over in moments.”

He should know. As a key player in shows that made overnight stars of ordinary people, Lythgoe has plenty of material to pull from. “I went to MGM with a lot of stories and ideas from kids that I worked with,” Lythgoe says. In particular, he was inspired by the story of Marko Germar, a season eight contestant on So You Think You Can Dance, who appeared on the show suffering gunshot wounds from a bank robbery.

“If you remember Marko the dancer, he had one arm slightly shorter than the other, but he lived," Lythgoe recounts. "He said, ‘I still got the bullet in my shoulder.' These stories are just incredible.”

But Lythgoe says he also wants the show to feature the "darker" themes of the 1980 Alan Parker film. "What it takes to achieve fame and what it takes to hold on to fame," he says in his best elevator pitch. 

It was Lythgoe’s enthusiasm that won over television executives, he adds. “MGM said, 'If you find the correct writer, we will let you have it.' And I found Josh Safron."

As previously reported, Safron will executive produce alongside Chad Gutstein and Charles Segars.