(April 25, 2001 – Burbank, CA) – Production commenced this month in Wilmington, North Carolina, on “Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood,” a comedy/drama from Warner Bros. Pictures, in association with Gaylord Films, it was announced today by Lorenzo di Bonaventura, President of Worldwide Production, Warner Bros. Pictures. The feature film adaptation of the best-selling novel stars Sandra Bullock, Ashley Judd, Academy Award-winner Ellen Burstyn, Academy Award-winner Dame Maggie Smith and James Garner. A classic Southern tale of hilarity and sadness set in a sleepy Louisiana parish, “Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood” follows a group of lifelong friends who stage a rather unorthodox intervention to help a young playwright unravel the truth about her complicated, eccentric mother, find forgiveness and acceptance, and let go of her painful past. Sandra Bullock takes on the role of the up-and-coming playwright, Sidda, while her mother, Vivi, is played by Ellen Burstyn. Ashley Judd portrays Burstyn’s character as a young woman in flashback sequences of the cross-generational story. Vivi’s three lifelong friends are played by Dame Maggie Smith, as Caro, Shirley Knight, as Necie, and Fionnula Flanagan, as Teensy. Directed by first-time feature director Callie Khouri (Academy Award-winning screenwriter on “Thelma & Louise”) from a screenplay adapted by Mark Andrus (“As Good as it Gets”) and Khouri, the film is based on the novel by Rebecca Wells, entitled “Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood.” It is produced by Bonnie Bruckheimer (“For the Boys,” “Beaches”) and Gaylord’s Hunt Lowry. Bette Midler (“For the Boys,” “The First Wives Club”), Mary McLaglen (“Pay It Forward,” “Hope Floats,”) and Lisa Stewart (“Almost Famous,” “Jerry Maguire”) are the executive producers. The behind-the-scenes team is comprised of director of photography John Bailey (“As Good as it Gets,” “For Love of the Game”), production designer David J. Bomba (“Original Sin,” “My Dog Skip”), and editor Andrew Marcus (“American Psycho,” “Remains of the Day”). Sandra Bullock (Sidda) is one of America’s most popular actresses, first catching the public’s eye in the smash hit “Speed.” Her other roles have included “While You Were Sleeping,” “The Net,” “A Time to Kill,” “Hope Floats,” “Practical Magic,” “Forces of Nature,” “28 Days” and most recently, the hit comedy “Miss Congeniality.” She will be seen in 2001 in the tentatively titled “Foolproof.” Ashley Judd (young Vivi) can currently be seen starring in “Someone Like You.” She also appeared in “Where the Heart Is,” “Kiss the Girls” and “Double Jeopardy,” which won her the Blockbuster Entertainment Award as Favorite Actress – Suspense. For her performance in “Ruby in Paradise,” she was honored by the Chicago Film Critics Association as Most Promising Actress and won an Independent Spirit Award as Best Female Lead. Upcoming projects include “High Crimes” for 20th Century Fox, which reteams her with “Kiss the Girls” costar Morgan Freeman. Ellen Burstyn (Vivi) was most recently nominated for an Academy Award as Best Actress for her stirring performance in “Requiem for a Dream.” Burstyn got her breakthrough role with Peter Bogdanovich’s “The Last Picture Show,” which earned her the New York and National Film Critic’s Awards in addition to Academy Award and Golden Globe nominations. She went on to give memorable performances in “The King of Marvin Gardens,” and “The Exorcist.” In 1975, Burstyn became the first actress in history to win an Academy Award and Tony Award in the same year when she was recognized for her starring roles in the film “Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore” and the Broadway play “Same Time Next Year.” Other film credits include “Resurrection,” “The Spitfire Grill,” “How to Make an American Quilt,” “The Yard,” and a reprise of her Broadway role in the film version of “Same Time Next Year.” Dame Maggie Smith (Caro) won an Academy Award as Best Actress for her role in “The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie.” She was also honored with the Best Supporting Actress Oscar for “California Suite.” Her diverse roles range from the acclaimed dramas “Tea with Mussolini,” “The Lonely Passion of Judith Hearne” and “Suddenly Last Summer” to comedies such as “The First Wives Club,” “Sister Act,” “Hook,” and “California Suite,” to Shakespeare and the classics. Among her feature film credits are “Richard III,” “Othello,” “A Private Function,” “The Secret Garden,” “Death on the Nile” and television’s “David Copperfield.” She will next be seen in the eagerly anticipated “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone.” James Garner (Shep) first came to stardom on the small screen as the reluctant hero Bret Maverick in the hit CBS series “Maverick.” He created the role of private eye Jim Rockford in the immensely popular “The Rockford Files” and in 1977, won an Emmy for his performance. Garner has appeared in over 40 films, including “The Children’s Hour,” “The Great Escape,” “The Americanization of Emily,” “Grand Prix,” “Cash McCall,” “Move Over, Darling,” “Support Your Local Sheriff,” “The Skin Game,” “Victor/Victoria” and an Academy Award-nominated turn in “Murphy’s Romance.” More recently he has appeared in the films “Maverick” (though he ceded the title role to Mel Gibson), “Twilight” and “Space Cowboys.” “Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood” will shoot on locations throughout the Wilmington area. The film is scheduled for release in 2002 and will be distributed worldwide by Warner Bros. Pictures, an AOL Time Warner Company.
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