Today's 'girl' Is 'debutante' With Plot Curves
Date: Friday, April 4 2003
"Girl" genesis: There may only be a handful of plots in all of literature, but Hollywood's gotten very good at updating and fine tuning them to produce a steady stream of new movies.
A case in point is "What A Girl Wants" from Warner Bros. in association with Gaylord Films, opening April 4 in more than 2,900 theaters. Directed by Dennie Gordon and produced
by Denise Di Novi, Bill Gerber and Hunt Lowry, the romantic comedy was written by Jenny Bicks and Elizabeth Chandler. The film is based on William Douglas Home's screenplay and stage play "The Reluctant Debutante." Executive produced by E. K. Gaylord II, Alison Greenspan and Casey La Scala, "Girl" stars Amanda Bynes, Colin Firth, Kelly Preston, Eileen Atkins, Anna Chancellor and Jonathan Pryce.
"One of my favorite movies is 'The Reluctant Debutante' (1958) with Sandra Dee, Rex Harrison and Kay Kendall (and directed by Vincente Minnelli). I always loved stories about girls having adventures or going to foreign locales and I got the idea to remake the movie," Di Novi told me. "We developed the screenplay at Warners for a few years. We kept basically the same concept of a girl going to England to find her father, but we added the surprise element where she goes to find a father who never knew she existed."
With plot curves like this, "Girl" has turned into a more contemporary coming of age story than the original film was. The approach is already showing signs of working with the young female audience, which knows Bynes from television programs like Nickelodeon's "The Amanda Show" and her new WB comedy "What I Like About You" and from her role opposite Frankie Muniz in the movie "Big Fat Liar." Last Saturday night Warners held some 1,000 well attended sneak previews of "Girl" with those on hand scoring the picture a very encouraging 85% in the Top Two Boxes (excellent and very good).
Di Novi began developing the project, she said, when she was "at Turner Pictures and then Turner merged with Warner Bros. and my deal moved there. It was about five or six years ago. The first draft was from Jenny Bicks, who went on to 'Sex and the City' fame (as a writer-producer and winning two Golden Globes and an Emmy). She was a new screenwriter at that time. Then we had Jessica Bendinger, who wrote 'Bring It On.' Jessica didn't end up getting credit. And then Elizabeth Chandler (whose credits include 'A Little Princess' and 'Someone Like You') did the final draft. When Billy Gerber left his job as president (of worldwide theatrical production at Warners), I invited him to partner with me on the movie. He's my producing partner. And when the script was ready we had Dennie