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BIG FAT LIAR

About The Production
Big Fat Liar's young stars, Frankie Muniz and Amanda Bynes, have cultivated a devoted legion of fans as the stars of two highly popular television series — Malcolm In The Middle and The Amanda Show. In Big Fat Liar, they offer those fans a thrill ride by proxy when their characters, Jason and Kaylee, invade the lair of hot-shot producer Marty Wolf. The fictional Wolf's production company is based at Universal Studios, so the kids hide out and live on the immense studio lot during their stay in L.A., and ingeniously employ the studio's world of make-believe in their campaign to make Wolf come clean. In addition to undertaking a great adventure, Jason and Kaylee get a vivid picture of what Jason might have become had he not met Wolf.

Producing partners Mike Tollin and Brian Robbins and screenwriter Dan Schneider began working on the idea for Big Fat Liar four years ago, shortly after the release of Tollin/Robbins Productions' first feature film, Good Burger. Tollin and Robbins are both directors as well as producers, and typically, one of the partners directs any film their company undertakes. But that changed after they met director Shawn Levy, who has directed several episodes of Tollin/Robbins television shows on Nickelodeon. "Shawn had a special way of dealing with actors — particularly young ones — that seemed a perfect fit for this material," said Tollin.

Levy was pleased to come aboard. He also savored the challenge of leading his young Big Fat Liar star into a brand new direction. "The movie is quite a departure for Frankie's persona,' Levy observed. "To date he has played largely awkward and ill at ease characters. Jason Shepherd, on the other hand, is supremely confident and clear minded. He has an uncanny knowledge of human nature and knows which buttons to push to get what he wants from people."

Indeed. Marty Wolf has never had an adversary as determined, imaginative or worthy as the teenager from Michigan. The stakes are high for Jason because at the young age of 14, he has lost his parents' faith. He is committed to doing whatever it takes to win back their trust. Marty Wolf has never felt such passion.

Among other things, Jason fills Wolf's pool with blue dye; dyes his hair orange; diverts him from a business meeting to an eight-year-old's birthday party where the kids attack him; re-wires his car so that the brake activates the horn, and sends him tumbling down a street on the Universal backlot in a flash flood. Still, Wolf stands steadfast, refusing to admit that he has stolen Jason's idea. Jason raises the stakes with each denial.

For Levy, one actor was born to play the shameless Wolf, and he was determined to cast him in the film. Although Paul Giamatti had deftly handled a number of supporting roles, he had not yet proven himself with a leading role in a feature film. But Levy knew he had the chops to make the megalomaniac movie producer delightfully and unforgettably ridiculous.

"I've been directing Paul since we were teenagers," said Levy. The actor and director had first met at Yale where they'd collaborated on several theatrical productions. '1 remember the first time I saw him on stage. Everyone knew this guy was too good to be held down. I didn't know if it would be theater or film, but his talent was so evident it was astounding."

Tollin was a quick convert to Levy's vision. "It's hard for people outside the movie business to imagine that people like Marty Wolf exist," Tollin said, "but they do. Paul has done an amazing job with this character. He's given Marty the appropriate levels of insanity and insensitivity, with just a touch of sympathy to show that this guy is a human being. Because basically Marty Wolf, for whatever reason in his psychological make-up, is a guy who wants 'it' so badly that he can't help himself."

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