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A Cinderella for the 21st Century
We all remember the story from our childhoods. Poor orphaned Cinderella, forced to carry water from the well and sweep the dirt floors of her evil step-mother's dreary cottage every day while dreaming of a handsome prince who would rescue her from her life of toil to go live in his drafty old castle. Very medieval.

Plus, there was a fairy godmother sprinkling pixie dust, a pumpkin morphing into a golden coach and a lot of talking mice.

Okay… and this relates to real life, how?

But wait – What if it's 2004 and our princess-in-the-rough is a high school senior like Sam Montgomery, and instead of chopping wood for the family hearth she's bussing tables and scrubbing the linoleum floors of her heartless step-mother's tacky 50s diner after school and running errands for her nasty, spoiled step-sisters? What if she's not looking for a handsome prince, per se (not that she's opposed to the idea), but studying for the SATs and dreaming of Princeton and her future beyond the San Fernando Valley? And what if, instead of magic pumpkins and chatty rodents, she gets one very cool, no-nonsense fairy godmother who encourages this modern Cinderella to find the strength within to be herself and realize the kind of life that, well, fairy tales are made of? 

Producer Clifford Werber, who originated and developed the idea of a "smart, contemporary Cinderella story with comedic parallels to the classic,” notes that the enduring appeal of the original is its "heart and soul, the ultimate wish-fulfillment fantasy and an underlying message of empowerment. In that sense it's as relevant today as when it was first introduced.”

Without losing any of the story's time-honored elements, A Cinderella Story transports the action to a suburban high school, where, appropriately enough, most young people first begin to grapple with the issues of identity, loyalty and integrity the Cinderella tale traditionally touches upon. Lest that sound a bit solemn, fear not, as Werber attests: "First and foremost, it's a comedy.”

Werber, whose Hollywood career includes tenure as a film executive at both Warner Bros. Pictures and 20th Century Fox through the 80s and 90s, has worked on films across a range of genres from Home Alone and Grand Canyon to Braveheart, Trainspotting and My Dog Skip, but found himself happily breaking new ground as a producer on A Cinderella Story. "Having always been on the other side of the fence, I'd never been involved with a film completely from start to finish,” he says, good-naturedly adding that one of the film's messages of "fortitude, and sticking with your instincts, could easily apply to a producer's job.” It helped that he was collaborating with an old friend, producer Dylan Sellers, "whose expertise was invaluable.”

"When my young daughter (a huge Hilary Duff fan) approved the script, I knew I was doing the right thing,” offers Sellers, also a studio executive-turned-producer, who recently produced the hit Cody Banks films. Describing A Cinderella Story, he says, "The issues are very much high school. The characters are teenagers and the writing is cool and edgy but it's still a classic love story and that has always transcended the age of the characters and the time they're living in. Whether it's You've Got Mail or Romeo and Juliet, it's irresistible to see the understanding grow between two people who are from opposite ends of a spectrum or perceive themselves to be very different from one another.” Werber's first choice to write the screenplay, Leigh Dunlap, wrote from his initial pitch and, he says, "brought back a story and characters with exactly the right voice and a sense of uniqueness. The opportunities for comedy just popped off the page.”

"I'm still a teenager at heart,” admits Dunlap, a former Valley Girl and USC Cinema student now married and raising a son in London. "I don't think you ever lose that feeling of being in high school. It's

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