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THE OTHER SISTER

About The Production
The roots of Touchstone Pictures romantic comedy, "The Other Sister," developed out of the joining of producer Alexandra Rose's memories of a childhood friendship with a mentally challenged girl along with Carry Marshall's fondness for a story about an eq

The roots of Touchstone Pictures romantic comedy, "The Other Sister," developed out of the joining of producer Alexandra Rose's memories of a childhood friendship with a mentally challenged girl along with Garry Marshall's fondness for a story about an equally challenged boy. Marshall and Rose were working together on "Frankie and Johnny" when they started the long process of merging both experience and original ideas into a screenplay.

"I'm always trying to find a new approach to a love story," explains Garry Marshall. "This is a very special love story in that it relies on a family accepting their children. We always talk about dysfunctional families, because this one's neurotic or this one's drinking, etc. But not many stories are done about a family that is dealt a particular hand of cards, and this is how they handle it. Some parents get mentally challenged children, and some parents get handicapped children. They didn't do something wrong to get these children. It's just the way it went, and they have to deal with it. And some people deal with it better than others."

"I grew up with a girl like Carla," remembers producer Rose. "We went to school together and I knew her family. I've always been inspired by her humor and courage as she struggled for her own independence. The young girl's parents and siblings went through a lot learning about their sister."

Working with the Exceptional Children's Foundation and the McBride Special Education Center in Los Angeles, the producers' and writers' extensive research taught them that there is no singular answer to why some children are born mentally challenged.

"In our film," producer Rose explains, "we have two young people who are highly functioning and who can be very productive members of society. Carla and Danny have a lot to offer and can be utilized productively."

The Exceptional Children's Foundation has a highly successful program where they take hundreds of young adults who have been classified as intellectually challenged and teach them work skills. "These people have been proven to make incredible employees," Rose adds. "Their concentration and focus is very strong, while their loyalty and honesty is outstanding."

Juliette Lewis and Giovanni Ribisi spent time with the Exceptional Children's Foundation and the McBride Special Education Center, as well as quizzing producer Rose about her childhood friend in order to understand their characters and the challenges they face in their search to be "a regular person." The actors worked alongside the mentally and physically challenged children and adults, listening to stories about their successes and failures, as well as the struggles they have had with their families.

Several of the students attending the McBride Special Education Center worked alongside Lewis and Ribisi as extras in the film.

"Families are not therapists," Rose asserts. "They're not trained to handle someone who's mentally challenged. In the film, we try to show the difficulty the parents have to deal with in taking care of a young adult, who wants things she sees are natural for other people their age to have. Carla wants to get a high school equivalency diploma; have her own apartment, a job and a boyfriend."

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