By ANGELA DAWSON
Front Row Features
HOLLYWOOD—Is Julianne Hough too hot for PG-13? That’s what director Adam Shankman explained at a press junket Sunday for the upcoming big screen adaptation of the hit Broadway musical “Rock of Ages,” in which the former “Dancing With the Stars” performer turned actress plays a starry eyed rock star wannabe opposite Tom Cruise, who hams it up as an aging, arrogant rock god.
“It really upset mothers,” he responded when asked why a scene was cut featuring the 23-year-old blond beauty and the “Top Gun” star, who is more than twice her age.
Apparently, some selected moms got an advance screening of the ‘80s inspired rock musical before it was finished, which included the sexy scene in which Cruise and Hough sing and gyrate to “Rock U Like a Hurricane” by the German heavy metal band the Scorpions, and they roundly gave it a thumbs down.
“The mothers literally turned against her character because she sold out and was such an animal in the scene,” said Shankman, a veteran choreographer and director, who shepherded another hit Broadway musical to the big screen with 2007’s “Hairspray.” “It was like she was too good. The sex was too much.”
Hough acknowledges that the scene probably was too sexy to wind up in the final cut of the film, which is likely to draw many younger people.
“It’s bad freakin’ ass,” said the husky voiced actress. “It’s the sexiest but rough performance and I think it was a little too much for people. This is the most physical dancing I saw Tom do. He was amazing.”
Shankman said another reason the scene was cut was because it slowed down the pacing of the two-hour-plus musical. He promised, though, that the steamy duet, in which Hough appears to give Cruise a lap dance, eventually will appear as a bonus feature on the DVD. Nervous parents can rest assured that the fantasy rock musical, set for a June 15 theatrical release, is tame enough for their young daughters to see.
Separately, Shankman revealed that while R&B singer Mary J. Blige was the first performer cast in “Rock of Ages,” she wasn’t the first choice for Warner Bros., the Hollywood studio behind the film. The studio’s choice? Whitney Houston. The filmmaker, who had choreographed a video with the late performer years ago, said he objected, citing that Houston “wasn’t the right fit” for the movie. Blige, who had met Shankman at a party hosted by Jennifer Lopez, accepted the offer to play the operator of a Sunset Strip gentleman’s club, and sings a duet with Hough on Journey’s “Any Way You Want It” and Quarterflash’s “Harden My Heart” as well as part of an ensemble “Don’t Stop Believin’ (also a Journey classic).
“I told them I want Mary J. Blige,” he said. “I think I just wanted (her) to sing around me.”
The multi-Grammy winning performer says the acting came easily to her, though she has no intention of giving up her “day job.” She explained she has no dream role, but revealed that she would entertain the idea —if asked—of portraying Houston, whom she regards as an icon, sometime in the future.