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13 GOING ON 30

Second Chances
Producer Gina Matthews was immediately taken with the idea for 13 Going on 30 when it was pitched to her by writers Cathy Yuspa and Josh Goldsmith, who had created Matthews' big hit What Women Want. "Cathy and Josh always come up with great, funny concepts with strong themes. Any time you sit down with them you know what they're going to tell you is going to be hilarious and entertaining and that audiences will gravitate to it for all the right reasons.”

Thematically, the core of 13 Going on 30 for Matthews was "about the choices we make in our lives and how easy it is to get off track. One day you can wake up and look around and ask yourself ‘Am I happy where I am?' This story is all about wish-fulfillment and second chances.”

Donna Arkoff Roth and Susan Arnold, the producers of such memorable films as America's Sweethearts and Grosse Point Blank, fell in love with the character of Jenna Rink when they read an early draft of the script.

"Jenna was a character we could all relate to, a confused young woman on the verge of adulthood,” says Arkoff Roth. "Thirteen is a tough age because you're on the brink of becoming — You're caught in the middle … You're not quite a woman, but you're not a kid anymore either.”

"We had this image of Jenna holding a stuffed animal in one hand and mascara in the other,” adds Arnold. "Who doesn't relate to that awkward age when you're so impatient with childhood but apprehensive about becoming an adult as well? We've all been there.”

Like Matthews, Arkoff Roth and Arnold were also drawn to the underlying theme of the movie. "We love comedies with a message, and the ultimate message of this story is that you have to be true to yourself,” says Arnold. Arkoff Roth adds, "It's a wonderful feeling when you can make people laugh and also give them a little something to think about — to see someone struggle and then emerge with a very simple, but meaningful answer.”

Arkoff Roth and Arnold have always been drawn to unique and multi-dimensional female characters. Having previously worked with Julia Roberts (America's Sweethearts) and Sandra Bullock (Forces of Nature). Jenna's tale, the producing partners realized, would also require a special actress with a unique blend of vulnerability, pluck and humor. They found that rare combination in actress Jennifer Garner, the award-winning star of TV's "Alias.”

"The moment we sat down with her, we realized that Jennifer was a really funny person with a wonderful ingenuous quality,” says Arnold.

"It was such a stroke of good fortune to find someone who is funny and smart and who embodied all the qualities necessary — the innocence and playfulness — to portray Jenna Rink,” adds Arkoff Roth.

Garner was happy to hang up Sydney Bristow's (her character on "Alias”) kickboxing boots for the hiatus and slip into Jenna's tennis shoes. "There were so many things I liked about Jenna's story,” says Garner. "I loved the idea of being 13 again – naïve and childlike and eager to fit in. But perhaps the most endearing quality of the script is about having second chances, not only with true love, but with your relationship with your parents — and getting the opportunity to turn your life around.”

"This movie shows Jennifer in a way that we haven't seen her before,” says Arkoff Roth. "Even though she's known for the fearless action role she plays on ‘Alias,' we recognized her abundant talent as a comedienne. For anyone who has spent time with her, or even seen her being interviewed on television, it's immediately obvious that she has fantastic comic timing. She's a very funny person.”

"What's interesting about Jennifer is she is this incredibly open, effervescent, wonderful woman,” says Matthews. " When she walked into the room to meet us she embodied this youthful yet wise spirit of Jenna Rink.”

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