About The Production
The original draft of the Stepmom screenplay was first brought to the attention of Wendy Finerman, the Academy AwardÂ®-winning producer of Forrest Gump, by Margaret French Isaac, who at the time was head of development at Wendy Finerman Productions
The original draft of the Stepmom screenplay was first
brought to the attention of Wendy Finerman, the Academy Award®-winning
producer of Forrest Gump, by Margaret French Isaac, who at the
time was head of development at Wendy Finerman Productions.
"The script had been written by Gigi Levangie, a young woman
who based the story on her own experiences of step-parenting,"
Finerman says. "I thought it was marvelous. It was a small-scale
work about real things-issues that parents, children and families
face today-and I thought it would make a terrific movie. We took
it to Amy Baer at Columbia TriStar and convinced them to option
it for us so that we could develop it.
"One of the aspects of the script that appealed to me-aside
from the central situation of wife No. 1 despising the woman who's
about to become her husband's wife No. 2, and vice versa, and
children having to shuttle between two households-was that it
contained two terrific roles for leading actresses. I had a strong
idea about who those actresses should be."
Coincidentally, Julia Roberts' agent, Elaine Goldsmith-Thomas,
and Pliny Porter, who heads her production company, had been slipped
an early draft of the script and had already given it to both
Roberts and Susan Sarandon. While it was apparent that the project
needed work, both women hoped that they had finally found a script
they could embrace. Goldsmith-Thomas called Finerman and urged
her to attach Roberts and Sarandon to the project immediately,
allow them to develop the script further and executive produce
with Porter. Finerman readily agreed to the idea, as did Sony,
and a deal was struck joining all four. The first official meeting
took place shortly thereafter. "I remember it vividly,"
the producer says. "It was the day after Susan won the Best
Actress Oscar® for Dead Man Walking, and we all met
at the Four Seasons. Susan and Julia had both read the script,
and they were excited about it. Both are family-oriented, and
they loved the story. It suited them perfectly. The only question
remaining was, who would direct.
The project began to gel once Chris Columbus became part of the
team to be the Director and the decision was made to film the
story in and around New York City, where Roberts and Sarandon
live. Columbus' associates at his company 1492 Pictures, Mark
Radcliffe and Michael Barnathan, joined Columbus and Finerman
as the project's producers and, in what was clearly an expression
of everyone's commitment to the project, Margaret French Isaac,
Ron Bass and Pliny Porter joined Sarandon and Roberts in becoming
executive producers. Patrick McCormick, whom Finerman calls one
of the finest film production executives in New York, is also
an executive producer. With McCormick in charge of setting up
operations, pre-production was underway.
The producers staffed the technical crew with some of the most
accomplished and talented artists working in features today. Director
of photography Donald M. McAlpine photographed Mrs. Doubtfire
and Nine Months for Chris Columbus as well as William
Shakespeare's Romeo + Juliet and The Edge.
Production designer Stuart Wurtzel was nominated for an Academy
Award® for Hannah and Her Sisters. Among his other
films are The Ghost and the Darkness, The Purple Rose of Cairo
and Hair. Costume designer Joseph
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