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GARFIELD

About The Production
Garfield, the world's most popular comic strip character, is about to become a major motion picture star. The cat who brought us catch phrases like "I would like mornings if they started later” and "I'd rather pig out than work out” toplines a liveaction/ computer generated film adapted from the syndicated cartoon strip read in 2,600 newspapers by 260 million readers around the globe. Garfield finally has an epic story that is as large as his ego – one that can barely be contained by the big screen.

Producer John Davis, whose many hits include the all-audience pictures "Doctor Dolittle” and "Daddy Day Care,” was a natural to bring GARFIELD to life on the big screen. "It's about time that Garfield becomes a big movie star,” says Davis. "He's lazy, funny, crotchety and he has attitude. It doesn't matter if you're five years old or fifty; everyone can relate to him on some level.”

For several years, Davis, along with Co-Producer Brian Manis, doggedly (sorry!) pursued Garfield creator Jim Davis (no relation), for the rights to make a Garfield movie. Jim Davis, after a quarter-century of drawing and writing the Garfield comic strip, decided it was time to bring his creation to the movies. "I've always treated Garfield as a real cat,” says Davis. "He actually exists like that in my head. And new technology can finally represent him in this authentic way.”

Jim Davis and John Davis wanted to be faithful to the essence of Garfield, which has made Garfield a worldwide household name for 25 years. "I think Garfield is popular to people of all ages for several reasons,” says Jim Davis. "He's a very physical animal when it comes to humor, and kids love that. Teens identify with his resentment for authority; he's very much his own cat. And on an adult level, he relieves our guilt about such little foibles as over-eating, sleeping too much, not exercising enough, or being unmotivated. He has the courage to say and do a lot of things that we wouldn't. So he speaks for a lot of us.”

In fact, Davis admits, "I'm 30 percent Garfield – I don't jog, I love lasagna, and I like to relax – and the other 70 percent of me, I put into the character of Garfield's owner, Jon. I'm a daydreamer, and I draw on my college dating experiences for failures in Jon's love life.”

With the coveted rights secured to make a GARFIELD motion picture, John Davis approached the screenwriting team of Joel Cohen & Alec Sokolow ("Toy Story,” "Cheaper by the Dozen”) to write the screenplay.

Cohen says much of Garfield's appeal lies in his neuroses. "Alec and I like to tell a story through the emotional needs of the character, or of the cat, in this case,” he explains. "And if you think about ‘Toy Story,' you see how the marriage of plot and character neuroses helps to advance that story. Similarly, Garfield is a Chinese banquet of neuroses, which gave us a wonderful opportunity to harness it all and tell a story through his impulses.”

Adds Sokolow: "Garfield is a classic comic voice. He's elemental in his desires, he doesn't suffer fools gladly, and he is probably the most honest and human of any of the characters in his world . For a writer, that's an embarrassment of riches. As long as you stay true to Garfield's basic slovenly desires, it's hard to go wrong.”

The two screenwriters ventured into Garfield country – and Jim Davis' home in Muncie, Indiana – to meet with the GARFIELD creator about their star. "Jim was a great resource for us because he has this uncanny ability to immediately see in our script what is true to Garfield and what is not quite right,” says Sokolow. "Also, his humor is kind of edgy by Midwestern terms, and yet kind of mainstream by the standards of the East and West Coasts.”

The next step was for the two writers, and John Davis and Brian Manis, to sift through 25 years of Garfield comic strips to come<

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