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SHE'S THE MAN

About The Production
It is safe to say that Shakespeare never imagined his comedy "Twelfth Night” set against a high school soccer rivalry, but writer-producer Ewan Leslie—a self-proclaimed lifelong Shakespeare fan—tells how the Bard's comedic play about mistaken identities, romantic triangles and even a bit of gender-bending became the inspiration for "She's the Man.” "I was in London a few years ago and saw Sam Mendes' brilliant production of "Twelfth Night” at the Donmar. I'd read the play and had seen the movie version, but when I saw Sam's production, it really crystallized for me. I've seen other classics contemporized for today's audiences in films like ‘Clueless' and ‘10 Things I Hate About You.' It seems to me that stories like these transcend eras; the basic premise is so strong, it doesn't matter when or where it takes place. What we did was take the idea of the love triangle between Viola, Duke and Olivia and transplanted it to a modern-day American high school.”

He goes on to explain, "The main reason I set the story in a high school is I think there can be a little more androgyny at that age. You know, not all boys are shaving by the time they're 16 or 17.”

Leslie ultimately collaborated with screenwriting partners Karen McCullah Lutz and Kirsten Smith on the final screenplay. He notes, "Karen and Kirsten wrote ‘10 Things I Hate About You,' which was based on Shakespeare's ‘The Taming of the Shrew.' They also wrote ‘Legally Blonde,' so we knew they were really great at capturing that young female voice.”

Leslie, who serves as President of Production at the Donners' Company, gave his script to producer Lauren Shuler Donner with the good news that Amanda Bynes, one of today's hottest young actresses, was already attached to star. Shuler Donner recalls, "On his own, he had gotten the script to Amanda, who signed on. I said, ‘Great. Let's go sell it.' It was the easiest movie project I have ever gotten going.”

Shuler Donner says they met with several prospective directors to helm "She's the Man,” but Andy Fickman emerged as the obvious choice. "Andy impressed everyone in the room. First of all, his ‘Reefer Madness' was very well done. He is also very funny and incredibly smart and had great ideas on how to make the movie. Andy not only ‘got' the material, but he also saw the potential of the sports angle to give it cross-over appeal to guys as well as girls.”

Fickman offers, "I immediately responded to the script; it genuinely made me laugh out loud, and ‘Twelfth Night' is one of my favorite Shakespeare plays. Adding to that, I have always loved movies like ‘Tootsie,' ‘Mrs. Doubtfire' and ‘Victor/Victoria.' This gave me an opportunity to have some fun with that type of genre.”

The director adds that knowing Amanda Bynes had already been cast in the central role of Viola was another major benefit. "I have an eight-year-old son, so I have spent a good many hours watching Amanda Bynes on Nickelodeon and have become a huge fan of hers. I had a meeting with her and, from the beginning, we clicked on everything.”

Having been involved in "She's the Man” from the beginning, Amanda Bynes had seen elements of the story and characters evolve, but the basic concepts that drew her to the project remained unchanged. "I loved the idea of doing a modern version of ‘Twelfth Night,' and I especially loved having the chance to play two different characters, with one being a boy. It's rare that you get to do something like that,” she remarks. "In fact, ‘Tootsie' is one of my favorite movies—I even had a dog named after Tootsie—so to actually have an opportunity to play this kind of role was really exciting. It was very well written and I loved Andy Fickman. It all seemed too good to be true; I felt grateful to be a part of it.”

"Amanda is a great actress and an incredibly gifted comedienne,” Shuler Donner states. "You believe her—no matt

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