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The folks at Stay Free Magazine have have an informative blog entry up on the music clearance hassles of Mad Hot Ballroom. The film’s producer and writer Amy Sewell talks about the unexpected issues she faced clearing everything musical numbers to a Rocky cellphone ring tone.

Here she recounts one of the more vexing moments:

“When we were down shooting the boys playing foosball, Ronnie yelled out, “Everybody dance now!” Just when I think we’ve finished the film, someone points out that we have to clear that because it’s a “visual vocal cue.” So I went back to the publishers, and the first publisher, Spirit, says they’ll throw it in with the other things we’ve cleared if Warner Chappell throws it in. But Warner Chappell said, “Look, we’ve cut you some nice deals, we can’t give this to you.” They said this three-second bit would cost $5,000. And since they had Most Favored Nation status it would have raised the cost on similar uses, like the Rocky ring-tone. So I went back to lawyer and said we should keep it in because this should be a poster child for fair use. But he didn’t recommend taking on the music industry. Those corporations have too much money for us to play Norma Rae our first time out.”

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