Sunday, December 27, 2009

FAVORITE OF THE WEEK: Writer, Producer & Director of Several Big-Screen Successful Movies - Nancy Meyers

Welcome to Up Close and Personal. Once a week, on a Sunday, a favorite author, journalist will be featured as ‘Favorite of the Week”. The article will give them more exposure and publicity about their work.

This week we choose Nancy Jane Meyer. She is a screenwriter, film director, producer of several big-screen successes, including Something's Gotta Give, The Holiday and The Parent Trap. Her second solo venture, What Women Want (2000), was the most successful film ever directed by a woman, taking in $183 million just in the U.S.

She's one of the few filmmakers who consistently crafts movies that appeal to adults, especially women, an underserved audience. Her films tend to be about well -- mature, typically affluent professional women who are concerned with their families and greatly desired by multiple suitors. Since she is known writer of chick flicks, she should be recognized as a writer who breathed life into the genre with complex female characters and often sparkling wit.

Nancy Meyer was born December 8, 1949, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. She’s the daughter of Irving H. Meyers, who was an executive with a voting machine manufacturer and Patricia Lemisch, an interior designer.

In 1967 Ms. Meyers graduated from Lower Merion High School in Lower Merion, Pennsylvania, and she headed to American University in Washington, D.C., earning her journalism degree in 1971. She found employment at WHYY, a Philadelphia-based public television station.

In 1972, at the age of 21 she moved to Los Angeles. She got her first job in the industry as a production assistant, for the long-running daytime television game show “The Price Is Right,” and has become known for her elaborate sets. Working as a gofer for producers Mark Goodson and Bill Todman taught Ms. Meyers plenty about production.

She left after two years and became a story editor for producer Ray Stark (Rastar Production), which put her in the company of fellow screenwriter hopefuls. Her subsequent studies at UCLA eventually led her to enter show business as an assistant director and production manager.

Ms. Meyers first gained attention with Goldie Hawn comedy movie, Private Benjamin in 1980 which was co-written with Harvey Miller and her then-husband Charles Shyer.

Private Benjamin premise for the film script idea came to her, while driving on the Ventura Freeway when she was about 27 years old. She thought, 'What if a girl joined the Army to escape her problems?'

Ms. Meyers, Mr. Shyer, and Mr. Miller collaborated on the script, which featured Goldie Hawn as a pampered princess who joins the army after her husband dies. The film, lacking a male lead, was cutting-edge for the time and became one of the most profitable movies Goldie Hawn ever made in her life, proving a woman could carry a film to box office success. The screenwriting trio picked up Oscar nomination for best writing as well as WGA Award for screenplay.

Nancy Meyers married Charles Shyer a screenwriter in 1980. They have two children: Annie and Hallie. During the marriage, she tried her hands at screenwriting, resulting in scripts for such popular sitcoms as “The Odd Couple” and “All in the Family”.

With her writing Private Benjamin broke new ground in Hollywood by proving that female actresses could also be as bankable as their male showbiz counterparts.

In 1987, she released the film, Baby Boom starring Oscar and Golden Globe winner, Diane Keaton. It was tale about a shrewd New York businesswoman whose life changes upon inheriting a baby girl. Despite the success of that film, she lay low for several years before returning to produce and write the hit movie remake “Father of the Bride”.

She later moves into directing with the popular Disney remake “The Parent Trap” in 1998. From there, she entered into a successful new phase in her career that would yield such hit romantic comedies as “What Women Want” and “Something’s Gotta Give”.

Her directorial debut in “The Parent Trap” a 1998 film, it offers a charmingly modern take on the Disney classic. She then stepped into her successful new phase of her career that yield such hit romantic comedy “What Women Want” starring Oscar and Golden Globe winner, Mel Gibson. In the film, Mel Gibson played an arrogant advertising executive who suddenly possesses the power to read women’s minds. “What Women Want” offered a very funny and original take on modern relationships and proved a hit with moviegoers.

Due to the success of “Father o the Bride” and “Baby Boom” she established a professional association with Diane Keaton. So, when she chose to direct a tale of an aging womanizer who finds himself uncharacteristically falling for a woman his own age, the ideal choice to play the role was Diane Keaton opposite screen legend and three time Oscar winner, Jack Nicholson conceive in her mind.

After those successes, Ms. Meyer resurfaced again in a romantic comedy “Holiday” starring four time Golden Globe nominee, Cameron Diaz and Oscar & Golden Globe winner, Kate Winslet as an American woman and a Britisher who meet in an online support group that offers “house-swapping vacation” for dissatisfied people. The women indeed decide to follow suit, exchanging residences, and they each become involved with a man on opposite sides of the Atlantic played by two time Oscar nominee Jude Law and Golden Globe nominee, Jack Black. In the box office Ms. Meyers proved again that she’s the reigning queen of winter-break chick flicks.

She’s a member of American Society of Composers, Authors, and Publishers, Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences, Writers Guild of America--West.

Her latest film, which opened Christmas Day, starring two time Oscar winner, Meryl Streep, Oscar nominee and Golden Globe winner, Alec Baldwin and Emmy award winner, Steve Martin. The film is about ex-spouses who, over their son’s college-graduation weekend, rekindle their romance — a tricky situation that becomes even more so when Meryl Streep’s character starts dating her architect, played by Steve Martin.

Nancy Meyers photo by Zade Rosenthal.

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