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|The Sisterhood of the Travelling Pants|
"I've always liked the idea that clothing can hold
emotions and memories or connections to other people,
so it wasn't a stretch to imagine a pair of jeans could
be a physical repository for a living friendship."
- Ann Brashares
The Sisterhood of the Travelling Pants brings to the screen Ann Brashares' best-selling novel about one very special summer in the lives of four life-long friends.
Introduced as babies who were born to mothers who met in a prenatal aerobics class, the four grew up together and developed an enduring bond despite their distinctly different emerging personalities. Now, after years of sharing every triumph and loss, every wild idea and secret fear with the laughter and love of true friends, these four young women couldn't be closer… except that they're about to be separated as their lives take them in different directions for the first time.
Introspective and occasionally volatile Carmen (AMERICA FERRERA) is looking forward to spending quality time with her out-of-state dad, whom she hasn't seen much since he divorced her mother years ago; super-confident star athlete Bridget (BLAKE LIVELY) is heading for a soccer camp in Mexico; soft-spoken Lena (ALEXIS BLEDEL), a gifted artist as beautiful as her drawings, is set to discover her heritage - and an unexpected romance - on a trip to her grandparents' home in Greece; and sharp-witted rebel Tibby (AMBER TAMBLYN) will reluctantly remain in town, stocking shelves at the local discount store while working on her pet project, a video "suckumentary" to expose what she sees as the banality of everyday life.
On a shopping trip together the day before their paths diverge, the friends find a pair of thrift-shop jeans that amazingly fits and flatters each one of them perfectly, even though they are four young women of very different shapes and sizes. It seems these pants are meant for sharing and that gives Carmen, Bridget, Lena and Tibby a wonderful idea. They decide to use the pants as a way of keeping in touch during the months ahead, each one wearing them for a week to see what luck they bring before mailing them on to the next.
In this unique way, though miles apart, the four still experience the challenges and surprises of life as they always have - together - in a summer they'll never forget.
Alcon Entertainment Presents a Di Novi Pictures / Debra Martin Chase Production, in association with Alloy Entertainment, a Ken Kwapis Film: Amber Tamblyn, America Ferrera, Blake Lively and Alexis Bledel star in The Sisterhood of the Travelling Pants, also starring Bradley Whitford, Nancy Travis, Rachel Ticotin, Jenna Boyd. Directed by Ken Kwapis, The Sisterhood of the Travelling Pants is produced by Debra Martin Chase, Denise Di Novi, Broderick Johnson and Andrew A Kosove, from a screenplay by Delia Ephron and Elizabeth Chandler, based on the novel by Ann Brashares. Executive producers are Leslie Morgenstein, Alison Greenspan and Kira Davis; co-producers are Christine Sacani, Steven P Wegner and Melissa Wiechmann. Kathryn Himoff ACE is the editor, John Bailey ASC is director of photography and Gae Buckley is the production designer. Music supervisor is Dawn Soler. Original score by Cliff Eidelman. Costumes designed by Lisa Jensen.
The Sisterhood of the Travelling Pants will be distributed worldwide by Warner Bros Pictures, a Warner Bros Entertainment Company. It is rated PG by the MPAA for "thematic elements, some sensuality and language."
www.sisterhoodofthetravelingpants.com / AOL: Sisterhood of the Travelling Pants
Bringing Ann Brashares' Acclaimed Novel to the Screen
A New York Times best-seller for more than a year after its 2001 publication, The Sisterhood of the Travelling Pants became a national phenomenon, earning high praise from critics as well as readers. The book was consistently voted first choice in mother/daughter book clubs across the country and has prompted comparisons of author Ann Brashares to renowned storyteller Judy Blume in her ability to shine a light on the rich but rough terrain of youth while honestly connecting with readers of all ages.
An avid reader and editor at a small publishing company before taking the plunge into writing, Brashares recalls the inspiration for The Sisterhood of the Travelling Pants, her debut novel. "I was chatting with someone who happened to mention she once shared a pair of pants with some friends, and for some reason that set off a lot of different ideas for me. I imagined who might share this pair of pants, what it means to them and where their lives might take them."
"The Sisterhood of the Travelling Pants is a full emotional meal," says producer Debra Martin Chase, who stayed up all night reading the book. "It's about the power and beauty of friendship and it runs the gamut from intense joy to raw emotion. You find yourself completely identifying with and getting caught up in the journey of these characters."
Chase, a two-time Emmy Award nominee (Hank Aaron: Chasing the Dream, Rodgers and Hammerstein's Cinderella) has a résumé distinguished by tales of what she calls "wish-fulfilment and empowerment," such as The Preacher's Wife, The Princess Diaries and its sequel, The Princess Diaries 2: Royal Engagement. "I like to make films that explore the idea that we all have the power within ourselves to do anything. The only limitations in life are those we put on ourselves. This story is a perfect example of that."
Producer Denise Di Novi, whose considerable filmmaking credits include successful screen adaptations of the bestselling books Practical Magic and Message in a Bottle, had a similar reaction. Initially assuming it was "a youth novel," she soon realised that the themes in Brashares' story transcend age to tap into familiar experiences of "growing into adulthood, realising your parents aren't perfect, struggling with self-confidence and facing the unexpected challenges of life with humour and determination - with the all-important support of friends who often know you better than you know yourself.
"I was impressed by the strength of the characters," she says. "It's eminently relatable and original, and brings up ideas and issues we've all faced and deals with them in an honest way. It's easy to see why fans can quote whole passages from this book. It's the kind of book you keep and re-read to find new meaning or to revisit certain times, whether these things happened to you 20 years ago or they're happening now."
Chase and Di Novi soon joined forces to develop The Sisterhood of the Travelling Pants, with producers Broderick Johnson and Andrew A Kosove, founders and co-presidents of Alcon Entertainment.
"What made Broderick and me so passionate about it was how different it was from the traditional approach," notes Kosove, who, with partner Johnson, has brought a diverse slate of films to the screen, among them Insomnia, Dude Where's My Car, My Dog Skip and this year's Racing Stripes. "It's a smart movie that doesn't talk down to its audience. Even though our protagonists are young women, the quality and the drama is mature."
Johnson concurs, adding, "The charm of the story is its authenticity. First love, first loss, the first time we're confronted with tragedy, and through it all the humour and great times we share with friends - these moments are universal."
The filmmakers hired writers Delia Ephron (Michael, You've Got Mail, the upcoming Bewitched) and Elizabeth Chandler (A Little Princess, What A Girl Wants) to work on a screenplay and the search began for a director.
Chase recalls how director Ken Kwapis met the team's high expectations in their initial meeting. "In great detail," she says, "he spoke about each character with complete understanding. Nothing sappy or cute. As he walked out the door I knew, 'this is the guy.' This is the guy who can make you smile and have fun and then deliver completely on the emotion and gravity and connect all the dots."
Renowned in the industry for directing some of the most groundbreaking and intelligent shows on television, beginning with The Larry Sanders Show and including ER, Malcolm in the Middle, Freaks and Geeks, The Bernie Mac Show and The Office, Kwapis shared a 2000 Emmy Award nomination for his producing work on Malcolm in the Middle. He has directed seven features, including He Said, She Said and most recently the independent Sexual Life.
"What struck me most," Kwapis explains, "was that the four stories were so different and the characters such different types and yet I was able to identify with them equally. It reminded me of a film that had a profound effect on me as a teenager and ultimately steered me toward my career: American Graffiti. I loved all of those characters and felt on some inexplicable level that they represented different aspects of myself. So when I read the Sisterhood script, I knew this should be a film for which every member of the audience sees themselves reflected not in a single character but in several or maybe all of them. There are no villains here, there are only people; people who make good or bad choices and sometimes screw up, and these are choices that I've made and that everyone in the audience has made.
"Structurally," he says, "I sometimes thought of it in musical terms, as a piece for four voices. Each of us has known shyness like Lena or dreamt of being impulsive like Bridget. Each of us has a sarcastic, rebellious side, like Tibby and would like to be as passionate and expressive as Carmen. Ultimately, I wanted to create the worlds these young women inhabit so we could eavesdrop on their lives."
Of paramount importance to the director was "making sure the voices and intention of Ann Brashares' story were vividly preserved from book to screen."
Brashares, watching the film evolve, reports being "delighted at how it turned out, absolutely true to the spirit of the book," and notes that Kwapis did not shy away from depicting her characters as she envisioned them, "honestly, warts and all. I wanted them to be natural, with their flaws and weaknesses, their occasional snap judgments and pettiness."
The author also appreciated that the filmmakers avoided the temptation to wrap everything up neatly, emphasising, "I never want to tell a story that's leading up to a lesson learned. If that's what's drawing you through a story then you're not listening to the characters they way you need to. In life, not everything is resolved."
"We'd been a foursome for as long as I could remember. We depended on
each other to understand things that no one else could, and to be there
for the things we couldn't face alone."
Faced with the challenge of introducing four actresses who had never met and helping them develop a credible chemistry on screen as though they had known each other all their lives, Kwapis invited them on a special shopping trip before production started. He gave them each $75 and turned them loose in a thrift store for an afternoon, charged with finding an outfit for themselves and each other - in character.
As a result, "They immediately began to interact as Tibby, Carmen, Bridget and Lena," he says. "It helped immensely toward developing that lived-in feeling of lifelong friendship. What I wanted to avoid was their putting on a show of being great friends."
In retrospect, he needn't have worried because the four became fast friends on set and have remained close. "It's always a crap shoot when you cast actors," Di Novi says realistically. "Are they going to like each other, are they going to get along? In this case, the movie gods were on our side and these women naturally clicked. They had so much fun together. Ultimately that energy and camaraderie shows on screen, which is great because one important thing about this story is that it's not syrupy or too earnest; it has a sense of fun and irreverence running through the drama."
"Casting on this project was key," notes Chase. "Not only did each young woman have to be a terrific actress in her own right she had to fit the part. Readers know these characters so well we really wanted our choices to embody the essence of each one. Together, they had to represent the sisterhood - without that, there's no movie." Adds Kosove, "our objective was not so much to find four actresses but to find these four women."