October 24, 2016
        Hollywood Contenders: New Oscar Predictions for October                Nicole Kidman, Hugh Grant, Naomie Harris, Lily Collins get Honors at 20th Annual Hollywood Film Awards                "Manchester by the Sea" leads the Gotham Award nominations                Tom Ford, Marc Platt and Kenneth Lonergan to be Honored at 20th Annual Hollywood Film Awards                Tom Cruise is in his action hero comfort zone with "Jack Reacher: Never Go Back"                "Moonlight" could be A24's big Oscar horse this year                Ewan McGregor steps behind the camera with "American Pastoral"                Hollywood Contenders: A second crack at Golden Globe predictions for 2016                "The Accountant" seeks to help give Ben Affleck another blockbuster                85 countries will be competing for Best Foreign Language Feature nominations at the Oscars                Tom Hanks to receive Hollywood Actor Award for "Sully" @ Hollywood Film Awards                "Certain Women" showcases Laura Dern, Kristen Stewart, and Michelle Williams                Ben Affleck is perhaps Hollywood's biggest and most diverse superstar                "The Birth of a Nation" looks to survive controversy and contend for awards                "The Girl on the Train" hopes to transport Emily Blunt to the Oscar race        

EXCLUSIVE: “Standing Ovation” star Dexter Darden on how film differs from “Glee”

By Sean O’Connell
Hollywoodnews.com: Is “Glee” a little too grown up for your youngest kids? Is Big Time Rush on Nickelodeon a bit too goofy for your taste? If you are looking for a new mix of adolescence and music for your family, then you might want to check out Stewart Raffill’s “Standing Ovation” when it opens in theaters this Friday, July 16.

The family musical, distributed by Rocky Mountain Pictures, follows five junior high school friends who form a singing group called The 5 Ovations to compete in a national music video contest. It’s their goal to win a cash prize of one million dollars. Standing in their way, however, is rival singing group The Wiggies — five rich, talented and unscrupulous sisters who along with their parents, will stop at nothing to win the competition.

But parents can take their little ones to “Standing Ovation” without fear of exposing them to pregnant teenagers (like in “Glee”) or heartbroken boyfriend-girlfriend struggles.

“This is for a younger crowd,” said Dexter Darden, who plays the contest’s MC, the host of the talent show. “‘Glee’ is about high school. The 5 Ovations girls in ‘Standing Ovation’ are still in middle school. Some of them aren’t even teenagers yet. I feel like a lot of younger kids don’t have the ability to relate to ‘Glee’ and ‘Big Time Rush’ because those characters are older. Hopefully they’ll latch on to The 5 Ovations, instead.”

Darden learned about “Ovation” while working on “Cadillac Records” with Adrien Brody, Cedric the Entertainer, Mos Def and Beyonce Knowles. He has been performing since a young age, and gets to bring both his acting and singing talents to the screen for his part in “Standing.”

“Something exciting about my role is that I’m the one who gets to announce which band wins the competition at the end of the film. I’m the one with the Golden Ticket in my hand,” Darden said. “I also play one of the finalists in the competition, so I get to sing a song in the movie, as well.”

Darden also says he was intrigued by the film’s concept that technological advancements allow anyone with a flip cam and YouTube access to create a video and chase their musical dreams.

“Technology has improved our access to the world of entertainment,” Darden said. “I am a huge YouTube fan. I go on there all the time to watch old Michael Jackson and Stevie Wonder videos. It has really helped me hone my craft.

“But when we talk about these original music videos, we are fortunate enough because we now have the opportunity to shoot and edit music videos in our houses, film them on our computers and digital cameras,” Darden continued. “It makes it much easier to get noticed. And ‘Standing Ovation’ shows that. It shows how a group of kids get together to make their own music video.”

“Standing Ovation” will be in theaters this Friday, July 16.

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About Sean O'Connell

Sean O'Connell is a nationally recognized film critic. His reviews have been published in print ('The Washington Post,' 'USA Today') and online (AMC FilmCritic.com, MSN's Citysearch) since 1996. He's a weekly contributor to several national radio programs. He is a longstanding member of the Broadcast Film Critics Association (BFCA), the Online Film Critics Society (OFCS), and the Southeastern Film Critics View all articles by Sean O'Connell Association (SEFCA).

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