La La Land team's journey from Philly suburbs to Oscars

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- La La Land is leading the pack in Oscar nominations.

The musical danced away with a record-tying 14 nominations including Best Picture, Ryan Goslingn for Lead Actor, and Emma Stone for Lead Actress.

Director Damien Chazelle was also nominated.

Damien Chazelle arrives at the 42nd Annual Los Angeles Film Critics Association Awards on Saturday, Jan. 14, 2017, in Los Angeles.

Photo by Willy Sanjuan/Invision/AP

The 32-year-old Chazelle fondly recalled his days as a nursery school student in Haverford, Delaware County when he screened the film for his home crowd back at the Philadelphia Film Festival.

"It's an original musical, so it's not based on any preexisting songs or Broadway hit and it's a love story. So trying to convince Hollywood to make it took some time. But once we got the cameras rolling it was just a blast," Chazelle said.

Mike Jackson of Wynnewood, Montgomery County is an executive producer of the movie.

Also among the 14 nominations for La La Land are two for Best Original Song: "Audition (The Fools Who Dream)" and "City of Stars."

Both were written by Ardmore native and Friends' Central alum Benj Pasek and his songwriting partners.

Lyricists Benj Pasek, left, and Justin Paul attend the New York Film Critics Circle Awards at TAO Downtown on Tuesday, Jan. 3, 2017, in New York.

Photo by Evan Agostini/Invision/AP

"Every day in our house was like going to a Broadway show. That's how we got through breakfast. That's how we got through lunch," Benj's mother Kathy Hirsh-Pasek told Action News.

Hirsh-Pasek says her 31-year-old middle child is now living his dream.

"It's like something we dream about. What does the song say? 'Here's to the fools who dream.' Using his own lyrics to describe this. It's like magnificent and magical," Hirsh-Pasek said.

Hirsh-Pasek, Benj's biggest fan, will also be his plus one on Hollywood's biggest night.

"And I will promise Benj at this very moment, I will not wear jeans to the Oscars," Hirsh-Pasek said.

She says she was on FaceTime with Benj and the whole family was able to watch the Oscar nominations together.

La La Land is Oscar bound, and those behind the scenes have local connections.


"We went nuts. We started screaming. We were so elated because once it's on that scream, it's real. It really happened," Hirsh-Pasek said.

Hirsh-Pasek hopes her son's life story of a boy from Ardmore becoming Oscar-bound will inspire others.

"There are all those kids out there who spend their life's dreams on those stages acting and singing their hearts out and really this is for all them to say it's possible," Hirsh-Pasek said.
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