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Ripped from the Headlines: NYT Prom Story to Become a Movie

Back in June the New York Times published a touching article about a high school in Brooklyn for kids who have newly immigrated to the United States. The article chronicles students in their senior year who have come from countries all over the world including Senegal, Haiti, and Poland as they make their way through that time-honored American right of passage: The prom. Now Miramax Films has optioned the rights to the article, which is titled "This Strange Thing Called Prom," and will turn the concept into a movie.

This is the latest addition to a growing pile of movie ideas springing from the pages of newspapers and magazines: The rights were optioned to an Atlantic Monthly article that urges single women of a certain age to "settle" for Mr. Not-Totally-Perfect, and last month J.J. Abrams purchased the rights to another NYT article that he will turn into a movie. However, since Hollywood essentially buys the "idea" of the story, it's anyone's guess what the actual film may look like.

So what would a movie about kids who have never heard of this strange American ritual called prom look like? To check out parts of the article that might inspire a good flick,


  • "At the International High School at Prospect Heights, a public school that serves newcomers to the United States none of the kids had any clue what prom was. In fact there is no translation for the word 'prom' among the 28 languages spoken by the school’s 411 students."
  • "In preparation for their first ever American prom, some students told the Times that they picked up on the basics from TV which included the fact that, 'the typical prom has a prom queen and king' and another student chimed in 'And then there’s the virginity-losing thingy.'"
  • "'I know we’re coming from different backgrounds,' said Hawa, who left behind her parents and several of her 15 brothers and sisters when she emigrated five years ago. 'But we live here now. Maybe some of us will never go back to our country. If you just be like, "Oh, I’m sticking to my culture, I’m sticking to my people, I'm sticking to what I know," how would you be able to survive here?'"

The exploration of an American prom through the eyes of people who've never heard of it is pretty ripe for interesting observations and funny moments. Plus, the transition from one culture to another at such a pivotal age is a great subject.

What do you think this movie will look like? And do you think this trend to find ideas in the news is inspired or tired?


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