Footloose & Fancy Free

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By Briana Stewart

   Twenty-five years ago, Utah County kicked off its Sunday shoes. 

   “Footloose,” which would later become a (swoon!) cult favorite flick, came to town for filming — and it put our little ol’ valley on the Hollywood map.

    Here’s the “then” and “now” of the 1984 movie that made us a star (oh, and Kevin Bacon, too).

THEN

For those of you who’ve been less rock and roll — and more under a rock — “Footloose” is a story about Walkman-toting city slicker Ren McCormack (played by Kevin Bacon) who comes to a small town where rock music and dancing have been banned. Loosely based on events that took place in the rural farming community of Elmore City, Okla., the movie revolves around Ren’s plight to have the town shimmy its way out of “repression.”

So when Hollywood came a-knocking in 1983, Utah Valley was all set. Payson High School, Lehi Roller Mills and the old Osmond studio were just a few of the backdrops ready for their close-ups. And Payson High School students, in particular, were excited to hobnob with Hollywood heartthrobs.

“It was pretty cool to rub shoulders with the rich and famous,” says Renae Ellsworth, who was a senior at Payson High School in 1983 and an extra in the film. “To be able to walk right past Kevin Bacon and Sarah Jessica Parker was just so fun.”

It was also fun to be immortalized in the popular flick — and for $3.50 an hour at that.

“We would have done it for free, so we thought it was pretty neat that we got paid!” says Stacey Measom, an extra and a member of Payson High School’s 1983 cheerleading squad (not to mention the owner of the rockin’ photo on the top right). “Kevin Bacon and Sarah Jessica Parker were so nice to us. They posed for photos and signed autographs. We thought we were hot stuff!”

And hot stuff we still are. Because wherever there are “Footloose” fan parties (and oh yes, there are still “Footloose” fan parties), Utah Valley is there also.

NOW

Well, grab those dancing shoes and cue that catchy Kenny Loggins’ tune, because “Footloose” is making a comeback.

Earlier this year, Paramount Pictures announced a remake of the film, which is due out in 2010. As of press time, Chace Crawford is set to play the role of Ren, and Orem’s own dancing queen, Julianne Hough (from “Dancing with the Stars”), is set to play Ariel.

No word yet on where they plan to film, but one thing is certain: We’ll have our Walkmans ready.

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Kevin Bacon poses amidst the Payson High School cheerleaders. He, in fact, filmed a dance sequence with the squad — but it never made it into the movie.

 

Footloose-scene-2

PHOTO COURTESY PARAMOUNT PICTURES

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PHOTO COURTESY PARAMOUNT PICTURES

 

Footloose Fun Facts

• The “P” on the mountain in Payson was changed to a “B” (for the fictional Bomont High School) in case it was ever seen during filming. As it turns out, it never was.

 

• Word on the Web is that before they began filming, Kevin Bacon (clad in a skinny tie and new wave haircut) went undercover as a “transfer student” at Payson High School for a day.

 

• Lehi Roller Mills — one of the main filming locations in the movie — had to hire a full-time employee to field “Footloose” questions after the movie came out.

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