Here’s a true Hollywood story.
A successful and smart female filmmaker wants to write a film about
her experience as a female in a male-dominated business that doesn’t
always want to hear her voice and relegates women to the supporting cast
once they pass the age of 40. The movie deal is eventually picked
up, but by a cigar-smoking ex-con who runs his indie film company into
the ground and changes the terms of the deal so much that it looks like the film
will never be finished.
And there’s no happy ending here, even
for filmmaker Amy Heckerling. Here she is with daughter Mollie,
who was one of the sources for material in the little film that couldn’t:
I Could Never Be Your Woman.
If you don’t recognize Heckerling’s name, you
probably know her work: She’s responsible for Fast Times at Ridgemont
High and Clueless. So it’s hard to understand how
I Could Never Be Your Woman will end up in the depressing bin of
straight-to-DVD film releases sold in a big warehouse store near you,
especially considering the stars. Michelle Pfeiffer,
Yep, that’s Pfeiffer in her
costume for Stardust. I liked that film more than
I expected to (really, why do old witches just want to steal youth?),
and it’s been a pleasure to see her in so many films recently.
Saoirse Ronan co-stars
as Pfieffer’s daughter. Ronan was unknown at the time the movie was cast, but she recently got an Oscar nod for her work in Atonement.
EW.com recently interviewed Heckerling
about the I Could Never Be Your Woman
debacle. The full story is filled with
complicated financial and business maneuvering, which has soured what
might have been a fun film (in the right hands, anyway):
In 1999, Heckerling poured [her]
feelings into a script about a divorced teen-soap producer (Pfeiffer)
who falls for a younger man (Paul
Rudd) while trying to guide her daughter through adolescence. The
producer grapples with idiot executives and pampered young stars with
spray-on abs, not to mention the terror of being a forty-something at
a rock club. Then the network cans her — because she’s not hip enough.
Sadly but not surprisingly, Heckerling
had problems marketing her project because studio execs were concerned
about making the protagonist a middle-aged mother. In the article,
she discusses the barrage of problems the film faced, from missing footage
to the passage of so much time that she fears jokes about UPN and the
WB will ring a little stale.
Even more sadly, in the aftermath of
frustrations from this film and her parents’ illnesses, Heckerling says
she’s not sure if she’ll work on another film:
I don’t want to work for the hell
of it. I get offered: “Here’s a girl who’s mad at another girl
for having a wedding on the same day.” That’ll be a big hit, but I
don’t want to do that. It would be fun to say, Oh, you can’t keep
me down, blah, blah, blah. But I haven’t had that much coffee
Ah, well. At least she still
has her sarcasm.