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When producers Scott Rudin and Donald De Line, director Frank Oz and screenwriter Paul Rudnick got together to update "The Stepford Wives,” the 1975 motion picture thriller based on Ira Levin's best-selling book, they recognized its potential to become, as Rudnick puts it, "a real modern American comedy.” Although both the novel and original movie were considered a response to the first wave of feminism in America during the 1970s, they all acknowledge that social changes during the last 30 years inspired some new twists in the story.

"In today's world, women can be enormously powerful ," observes Rudnick. "They've made enormous strides, but that still doesn't always sit well with their husbands. So, by creating this town of ‘model' wives and laughing at the notion of it. I was able to give the story a contemporary spin.”

To Oz, whose previous comedic credits include "Bowfinger,” "Dirty Rotten Scoundrels,” "Little Shop of Horrors” and "In & Out,” the film's appeal was in the way it mixed comedy with darkness.

"Comedy is kind of a dangerous thing to do when you're dealing with social commentary, with characters' feelings and with darkness and evil,” says Oz. "But I think people will feel that the edginess of our humor is right on target.”

Rudnick, who wrote the original screenplay for the successful 1997 comedy hit "In & Out,” agrees, adding that through the film's unique comedic perspective the underlying themes of consumerism and greed rise to the surface.

"Stepford is the perfect American suburb, which on the surface seems like the ultimate bourgeois dream,” says Rudnick. "It's a town of gorgeous McMansions, SUVs, sports cars, perfect moms, perfectly behaved children and perfectly happy dads... more perfect than humanly possible. And any vision of that nature is a little too perfect to last.”

A skilled satirist, Rudnick looked forward to his reunion with Oz, especially because the director has such a reverence for comedy. "Frank is a writer's dream and a wonderful collaborator, but what I personally adore about him is that he gets the joke,” says Rudnick. "He knows who's funny or how to make someone funny.”

"I'm kind of like a mountain-climbing guide,” laughs Oz. "I don't climb the mountain —the actors do. But I like to show them which way to go.

One of the actors happy to follow Oz's direction was Nicole Kidman. who earned the Academy Award® for Best Actress in 2003 for her compelling performance as author Virginia Woolf in "The Hours.” For Kidman. the change of pace was exactly what she was looking for, not to mention the chance to work with such talented filmmakers and co-stars.

"Coming off of an intense drama I was ready to do something fun, and I loved the idea of teaming up with Glenn and Bette,” says Kidman, who portrays Joanna Eberhart, the perfect example of what women are capable of doing with their lives today. "I also love the way Paul Rudnick mixes politics and pop culture, and of course, Frank Oz is so adept with this sort of material, I knew he could guide me into new comedic territory.”

Much of the humor comes from Kidman's character, a powerful executive whose career has overshadowed her humanity and made her a living example of taking success too far. Also overshadowed, is Joanna's husband Walter, who thanks to modern technology, discovers that in Stepford even the most average guy reigns like a king.

"Stepford is a great concept,” laughs two-time Tony winner ("The Producers,” "Brighton Beach Memoirs”) Matthew Broderick, who portrays Walter. "There's a Men's Association where we go to smoke cigars, have bourbons and wear our special jackets to show that we're part of a club. We have plasma screen TVs, computers, video games — it's a real guy place where we feel comfortable and at home.”

Leading the men of Stepford is Mike Wellington, portrayed by Academy Award® winner Christopher<

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