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Last Updated: Friday, 5 December, 2003, 14:11 GMT
Parker attacks Fame 'rip-offs'
Alan Parker
Parker is the chair of the UK Film Council
Director Alan Parker has said that he feels TV shows Pop Idol and Fame Academy have been "ripped off" from his film Fame - and he feels "awful" about it.

Parker made Fame - a musical about the lives of students at New York's High School of Performing Arts - in 1979, but said that the theme had been taken and used by the modern programmes.

"It's awful really to think that I am [responsible]," Parker told BBC World Service's The Ticket programme.

"The film of Fame is a very tough film. It's not really about Fame, it's actually about failure.

"They did make a TV series immediately afterwards, which took all the Hollywood-y things about it. That became what people thought to be Fame, and of course it's been ripped off on almost every programme you see at the moment."

Fame 'denigrated'

In particular, Parker said the concept that had been stolen was that young people could go from "nowhere" and become stars.

Any old kid can be working in a supermarket one minute and then they can win Pop Idol and a couple of million quid the next
Alan Parker
"I do gag a bit when I watch all that, and I do feel a little bit responsible," he said.

"But the thing that always amuses me is I only called it Fame at the very last minute. The original title, for many, many months, was Hot Lunch.

"I always thought it really funny that if I hadn't called it Fame, you'd have programmes on TV called Hot Lunch Academy."

Parker said that these programmes had "denigrated" the effort that genuine music stars put in to their careers.

"Any old kid can be working in a supermarket one minute and then they can win Pop Idol and a couple of million quid the next.

"The real world of entertainment, and the real world of being a musical artist, is very, very different to that, and you have to pay your dues. All the great artists come out of that, and a lot of people fail."

Parker tackled the music industry again with his 1990 film The Commitments.

The film followed an Irish soul band who try to make the big time - but fall apart in their attempt.

"The kids all end up a total disaster," Parker pointed out.

"If that had been made by American film-makers, they would have got to Number One and won Pop Idol.

"The Commitments end up tearing one another apart, even though they do attain greatness."

'Something to say'

Parker said that the Commitments was reflective of the world view he put into his films, which as well as Fame have included Midnight Express, Mississippi Burning, Evita and Angela's Ashes.

Richard Curtis
Parker sees his films as "diametrically opposite" to Richard Curtis's
"I came from a particular background of film-making where I thought - and still do believe - that film is not just about entertainment.

"It's very important that I do entertain, it's very important that I find an audience, and I do not bore an audience for two hours.

"On the other hand I think that films ought to have something to say. There are many film-makers who don't believe in that."

In particular, Parker singled out fellow British director Richard Curtis, currently top of the UK movie charts with Love Actually but also writer of Four Weddings And A Funeral and Notting Hill.

"I've tended to move towards things, parts of society which are not necessarily cosy or easy or happy," Parker said.

"It's diametrically opposite to what Richard Curtis does with his films.

"He looks for everything that is wonderful and beautiful about people, and I look towards the opposite - the darker side of people I find dramatically more interesting, and perhaps more honest."

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