From future to the past: Dekker strives for 'Fame'


So John Connor has caught the acting bug. Thomas Dekker, who stars on Fox's "Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles," is taking a lead role in MGM's remake of the 1980 musical "Fame." Dekker will play Marco, a working-class kid with some gnarly acting chops who is competing with thousands of other hopefuls to get into and survive an elite New York public high school for the arts.

Written by Allison Burnett, the revamp will be directed by Kevin Tancharoen, a director and choreographer who has worked in TV (MTV's "DanceLife"), on music videos and on tours for such singers as Britney Spears and Jessica Simpson. Mark Canton ("300") is producing the $25 million project along with Gary Lucchesi and Tom Rosenberg of Lakeshore Entertainment ("Elegy").

The producers have been holding open casting calls in New York and Los Angeles since the spring (video auditions posted by wannabes also pepper YouTube).

The original "Fame," directed by Alan Parker, followed an ensemble of ambitious young performers and teachers as the kids worked their way through the prestigious New York Academy of Performing Arts. The film was nominated for six Oscars and won for best score and best original song, "Fame," performed by co-star Irene Cara. It was then spun off into a TV series.

MGM, under the production leadership of Mary Parent, already has staked out Sept. 25 as a release date, with a potential shoot starting in February. Other characters about to be cast include an aspiring filmmaker, a shapely dancer, a slam poet, a salsa musician and a sheltered pianist.

Dekker, repped by ICM and Untitled, fits the "Fame" profile: He started acting at age 6 and comes from a musical family. He sang on the soundtracks of several films in the animated "Land Before Time" video series and has an album, "Psyanotic," on iTunes.

Dekker's other recent TV work includes "7th Heaven" and "Heroes." His feature résumé includes the horror film "From Within" and the drama "My Sister's Keeper," both due next year. "Whore," an independent film that Dekker wrote, directed, produced, edited and starred in, will be released by Moving Parts in October. (partialdiff)