Read All about It: Newsies Revives the Musical

By Turner, George E | American Cinematographer, May 1992 | Go to article overview

Read All about It: Newsies Revives the Musical


Turner, George E, American Cinematographer


"You know, I've read quite a few scripts since the beginning of the year, most of which were well-written studio pictures with stars and top directors," Andrew Laszlo, ASC mused recently on a set at Universal City.

"A lot of them have to do with horror, violence, shoot-'em-up, blow-'em-up. At this stage of life I was hoping for a picture that had another side to it, and when producer Mike Finnell called and told me about Newsies I could not believe it! This was a period song-and-dance musical with kids, about kids. There hasn't been one like this in I don't know how many years. I jumped on it."

Thus did the distinguished cinematographer describe his pleasure in tackling a difficult but rewarding picture for Walt Disney Productions. Laszlo came to this country in 1947 as an emigrant from Hungary, where he started his motion picture work as an apprentice at the Motion Picture Studios in Budapest. His credits as a director of photography feature First Blood, Thief of Hearts, Poltergeist II, Innerspace and Star Trek V.

Production for Newsies began on April 15, 1991 following 10 weeks of intensive rehearsals. Although the screenplay (by Bob Tzudiker, Noni White, David Fallon and Tom Rickman) is set entirely in New York City, the film was produced at three studio backlots, six locations in the Los Angeles area, and seven sets built on sound stages.

The soft-spoken Finnell, the producer, at first wondered if the story would be practical to make. "However, it was dear that it was true and my feeling was that this was something that I would love to see. But I also knew that it would be very, very difficult to bring to the screen."

The director, who is making his feature debut in that capacity, is Kenny Ortega, a top ranking choreographer who has worked on some 40-odd movies and videos during the past 15 years. He began directing television in 1988 with the Dirty Dancing and Hull High shows. "When I read that script I could hear music," Ortega said. The music in the final product is by Alan Menken (an Oscar winner for The Little Mermaid) with lyrics by Jack Feldman.

Based upon historical fact, Newsies is set in the summer of 1899, when publisher Joseph Pulitzer announced a one-tenth-of-a-percent price increase for his daily newspaper, the New York World. The newsies, impoverished youngsters who hawk the newspaper on the streets at a tiny margin of profit, realize they will be ruined. They decide to strike, an action which eventually brings the top publishing companies in America to their knees.

Pulitzer is portrayed by Robert Duvall and the leader of the embattled kids is Christian Bale, the 17-year-old British actor who is remembered for extraordinary performances in Empire of the Sun and Henry V. Bill Pullman is an ace reporter who helps the boys at the cost of his own job and Ann-Margret is the music hall star who also lends a hand. Principals among the newsies are David Moscow, Luke Edwards, Max Casella and Trey Parker, none of whom are the usual Hollywood kid types.

AC looked in on Laszlo in mid-production at Universal City. At the time Laszlo was working in an interior/exterior set that represented part of a reform school. It consisted of the upper floors of a building exterior, which was designed to match a backlot exterior a mile or so to the east on the Warner Bros. lot, with an interior room (visible through the windows) designed as a big, nightmarish cubicle packed with closely jammed two-tiered bunks. The room, lighted (ostensibly) by simple fixtures hanging from the ceiling, was at the moment brimfull of boys - a claustrophobe's worst-case scenario. The exterior was effect-lighted for night with the proper intensity and color to contrast realistically with the yellowish artificial light of the room. The Panaflex camera was about 15 feet above the floor on a Chapman Zeus crane. Operating the camera was the director of photography's son, Jeffrey Laszlo, whose youth belies the fact that he has worked on an impressive number of major productions.

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Read All about It: Newsies Revives the Musical
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.