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Documentary goes behind ‘Line’

Upcoming film chronicles 'Chorus'

If you happened to pass by the William Morris international sales office in Cannes last week, you might have caught sight of a few Broadway hoofers.

The office was running a four-minute trailer for “Every Little Step,” the upcoming docu-chronicle of auditions for the current Rialto revival of “A Chorus Line.” Producers of the $2 million pic — including exec producer John Breglio, the man behind the revival — hope to have the final cut ready for the early 2008 film fests, ahead of a national release.

James D. Stern, a producer of both film (“Lord of War”) and legit (“Hairspray,” “Legally Blonde”), co-directs the movie with Adam Del Deo. Stern’s indie film company, Endgame Entertainment, produces.

Like the musical itself, the film will focus mainly on the audition period. Cameras filmed more than 1,700 performers trying out for the show — a public glimpse behind the scenes never before allowed by Actors’ Equity.

To secure permission from the thesp union, Breglio met with Equity committees before auditions even began.

“If we ever are going to do something like this, ‘A Chorus Line’ is the show to do it with,” Breglio remembers saying to them. “My intent is not to demean or ridicule people. It’s not ‘Chorus Line’ gone reality TV. It’s just the opposite — celebrating what it is to be a professional dancer and showing the journey and drama that goes into it.”

His pitch won over Equity. Nonetheless, he waited until he had all the footage to decide whether he’d gotten enough material to go ahead with the pic.

“We now know that we have some amazing stuff,” he says. “It has a story to it.”

The doc’s planned release date will coincide with the kickoff of the national tour, set for May 2008.

More than a few legiters have been whispering lately about the bad buzz surrounding “Xanadu,” the Broadway tuner adaptation of the notoriously lousy 1980 movie-musical, which opens at the Helen Hayes Theater June 26.

Turns out you don’t have to whisper. Book writer Douglas Carter Beane knows what he’s up against.

“There’s a group of people who look at me like I’m battling cancer,” the playwright, up for a Tony for “The Little Dog Laughed,” says good-naturedly.

“They’re thinking, ‘How can you do this? In the Helen Hayes?” he adds, affecting a scandalized tone. “And I’m sure the star of ‘Herbie Rides Again’ would be horrified.”

(The 1974 “Herbie” sequel was a little-known screen credit for venerable stage star Hayes. Although most of us remember her on “The Love Boat.”)

The original “Xanadu,” which starred Olivia Newton-John, Michael Beck and Gene Kelly in a tale of a modern-day Greek muse and a roller disco, flopped at the box office. Beane credits it with killing off the movie-musical for two decades.

The lead producer of the legit version, Rob Ahrens, brought the property to Beane and said the scribe could do whatever he wanted with the story. In Beane’s version — which started out with strong political overtones and then evolved into what he describes as “a joke about the creative process” — the Greek mythology angle is far more prevalent than it is in the movie.

The playwright imagined the legit community would instantly see the nose-thumbing comic potential of the project. Not so much.

“I think it flies into everybody’s insecurities,” he says.

In an unusual move, the production skipped an out-of-town tryout to open cold on the Rialto. The tuner, with Christopher Ashley directing a roller-skating Kerry Butler in the Newton-John role, began previews last week.

The show’s first perf was sold out.

“Of course it was!” Beane laughs. “With vicious horrible human beings who want to post on their blogs about the problems we have!”

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