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Behind The Joy Of Waitress
"Baby Screaming It's Head Off in the Middle of the Night and Ruining my Life Pie.” Pecans and nutmeg over a New York Style Cheesecake. No crust... -- Jenna

When WAITRESS premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in January of 2007, the audience immediately responded to its mouth-watering, funny and ultimately uplifting story about a smalltown Southern "pie genius” who finds herself caught between a husband who leaves a bad taste and a scrumptious but totally inappropriate affair – and beats her own path to a future she never imagined. Yet the film's success was also a bittersweet triumph for everyone involved in the production because the writer and director, Adrienne Shelly, wasn't there to share in the joy of the occasion. Tragically, Shelly died in November of 2006, before she even had been informed that her dream had come true and WAITRESS had been accepted to the Sundance Film Festival. As producer Michael Roiff told The New York Times during Sundance: "It's unbelievable to me that I'm in Park City and she's not. She so much wanted this movie to get in here, to be seen . . . [it was] a huge turning point in her career.”

For Shelly, WAITRESS had been a true labor of love, written while she was pregnant with her own daughter, and a breakthrough film that revealed the stylistic strength and charm of her vision – and especially, her distinctive way of tapping into the magic and humor of ordinary working lives. Shelly had started her career as an acclaimed actress, garnering the spotlight with fiery performances in Hal Hartley's indie classics THE UNBELIEVABLE TRUTH and TRUST – and had most recently starred in FACTOTUM with Matt Dillon and Lili Taylor. In 1996, Shelly made her feature film debut as a writer-director with SUDDEN MANHATTAN, a soul-searching New York comedy, following that with the award-winning, unconventional romantic comedy I'LL TAKE YOU THERE, starring Ally Sheedy as a woman who kidnaps the man who rejected her.

WAITRESS is Shelly's third and final film and the rare sparkling comedy that brings a fresh view to something that happens all the time: impending motherhood under less than ideal circumstances. Shelly said she set out to make a film "that roots for people who do the right thing. I really like putting that sort of thing out into the world.” She also stated: "Ultimately, WAITRESS is a love letter to my baby, Sophie.”

Indeed, it was getting pregnant that inspired Shelly to dream up the indelible characters of WAITRESS, and to boldly create a predicament for her heroine, Jenna, she'd never seen anyone really tackle before in a comedy: being scared out of her mind at the very thought of giving birth. "I wrote WAITRESS when I was about eight months pregnant, and I was really scared about the idea of having a baby,” she explained. "I couldn't imagine how my life was going to be, that it would change so drastically that I wasn't even going to recognize myself anymore. I was terrified and I really had never seen that reflected in anything, not in a book or in a movie.”

That's when Shelly decided to undo the taboo. "People don't talk about those kinds of fears,” Shelly continued, "but I know how large they loom. They aren't spoken about, and it's almost like a sacrilege to say that becoming a mother is scary. So I wanted to write a movie about those fears and give them a voice. But I also knew that when you actually have a child this other kind of love kicks in that you couldn't have ever imagined. It's a different kind of love than you've ever experienced in your life – it's a complete, utter, unconditional kind of love. Being a mother does change your life, in a beautiful way.”

Shelly put Jenna in the middle of a potentially disastrous romantic triangle even in the midst of her pregnancy. While she's weathering her awful marriage to a slimy, self-absorbed husband so full

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