Following her big sister's footsteps led Kay Panabaker to a career most young actresses can only dream of having. Her most notable role, that of bookish and sensitive adolescent Nikki Westerly in the...
Fame will "live on forever" with a remake of the 1980 musical scheduled to hit theaters Sept. 25, 2009.
The $25 million project, written by Allison Burnett and Aline Brosh McKenna, has added a roster of stars to fill out the administrative and teaching roles in the Kevin Tancharoen-directed remake. Kelsey Grammer, Megan Mullally, Charles S. Dutton, Bebe Neuwirth and Debbie Allen have joined the cast of the film which is set to start production on Wednesday.
Each of the newly recruited actors boast noteworthy performing arts backgrounds: Mullally graduated from the School of American Ballet; Grammer attended Juilliard; Dutton went to the Yale School of Drama and Neuwirth has won two Tonys. Allen, who played dance teacher Lydia Grant in the original film, will appear in the updated version as Principal Simms.
The casting also marks a reunion for Grammer and Neuwirth who starred together as husband and wife in Cheers and later in Frasier.
The student cast includes newcomers Kristy Flores, Paul Iacono, Naturi Naughton and Kay Panabaker.
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Following her big sister's footsteps led Kay Panabaker to a career most young actresses can only dream of having. Her most notable role, that of bookish and sensitive adolescent Nikki Westerly in the primetime drama "Summerland" (WB, 2004-05), saw Panabaker starring alongside two current teen heartthrobs Jesse McCartney and Zac Efron ("High School Musical," Disney, 2005). Panabaker also filmed her first kiss (onscreen and off) with current "It boy" Efron on the popular show.<p>Stephanie Kay Panabaker was born on May 2, 1990 in Orange, TX. Her sister Danielle, also an actress, would go on to star in the films "Sky High" (Buena Vista, 2005) and "Yours, Mine, and Ours" (Paramount, 2005). Her family moved around a lot, relocating from Texas, to Chicago, IL, to Philadelphia, PA, to Atlanta, GA, and finally to Los Angeles. Local community theater productions provided Panabaker with the opportunity to work on her acting while still attending school. At the impressive age of 13, the actress graduated valedictorian of her class and went on to attend Glendale Community College at the young age of 15.<p>Multiple television roles established Panabaker as one of the hardest working young actresses in the business. She appeared in the Disney Channel show "Phil of the Future" (Disney, 2004-05)and also took on minor parts in hit series such as "7th Heaven" (WB, 1996- ), "ER" (NBC, 1994- ), "Port Charles" (ABC, 1997-2003), "The Brothers Garcia" (Nickelodeon, 2000-2003), and "Medium" (CBS, 2005- ). A starring role in the drama series "Summerland" made Panabaker a household name and a favorite with teen girls. With her portrayal of Nikki Westerly, a mature young woman who, even after losing both her parents in a tragic car accident, maintains her straight A grades, the breakout role earned Panabaker a Young Artist Award in 2005. This honor came on the heels of the same nomination a year prior for her "ER" cameo.<p>Big screen roles soon followed for Panabaker. She appeared in the films "Dead Heat" (2002), which was released in Japan, Germany, and Argentina. Also a voice actress, Panabaker landed work in the Disney/Pixar animated blockbuster "Monsters, Inc." (2001). The Disney Corporation would not soon forget Panabaker's talents, casting her in the Disney Channel Original Movie "Life is Ruff" (2005), along with teen actors Kyle Massey and Mitchel Musso, and "Read It and Weep" (2006), where Panabaker co-starred with her sister Danielle.<p>Even with her busy acting schedule, Panabaker still took time to pursue her studies. She enrolled as a history major at University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) in 2006, with hopes of one day become an elementary school teacher. But in the meantime, acting remained her focus. Panabaker has an impressive lineup of films on the way, including the highly anticipated "Nancy Drew: The Mystery in Hollywood Hills" (Warner Brothers, 2007) co-starring fellow teen actresses Emma Roberts (Julia's niece and the star of Nickelodeon's "Unfabulous," 2004- ) and the title role in "Moondance Alexander" (2007). Her winning combination of brains, beauty, and natural born talent made Panabaker a young star with a future brighter than most in Hollywood.