Eva Mendes in a scene from The Women, directed by Diane English 2008 - A Picturehouse release / photographer: Claudette Barius The Women Movie Review Starring Meg Ryan, Annette Bening, Eva Mendes, Debra Messing, Jada Pinkett Smith | Film Critic Michael Phillips Reviews The Women | Video
Eva Mendes in a scene from The Women

In George Cukor's 1939 movie "The Women," the female characters twitter and gabble like a shaken cage full of canaries. In the 1956 MGM musical remake "The Opposite Sex," they declaim their feelings, or belt them out in song.

Diane English's new remake "The Women" completes a trifecta -- across nearly 70 years, no one adapting Clare Boothe Luce's play "The Women" has figured out how women actually talk and act. That was fine for Luce and for Cukor, who were deliberately mocking rich, spoiled society wives. But first-time writer-director English (creator and producer of "Murphy Brown") seems to want viewers to sympathize with her toxic, shallow characters, and that's far harder than laughing at them.

English's update of Luce's play (and the 1939 screenplay by Anita Loos and Jane Murfin, also credited) tosses out most of the dialogue but keeps the broad particulars of the plot, then crams in enough extra detail to choke the story into shapelessness.

In one plot thread, part-time fashion designer Mary Haines (Meg Ryan) learns through a gossipy manicurist that her husband is having an affair with perfume-counter clerk Crystal Allen (Eva Mendes). In another, Mary's brittle shopaholic friend Sylvie Fowler (Annette Bening) struggles to elevate the tone at a tawdry Vogue-like fashion magazine.

In one plot thread, part-time fashion designer Mary Haines (Meg Ryan) learns through a gossipy manicurist that her husband is having an affair with perfume-counter clerk Crystal Allen (Eva Mendes). In another, Mary's brittle shopaholic friend Sylvie Fowler (Annette Bening) struggles to elevate the tone at a tawdry Vogue-like fashion magazine.

The rest of the action is hyperactive and incidental, centered on women clustering together to trade one-liners, or putting their heads together for serious, important talks about how to deal with men. Like Cukor's film, English's version of "The Women" doesn't have a single male speaking role; it packs its sequences with a dizzying flock of chirruping ladies, including Carrie Fisher, Cloris Leachman, Debi Mazar and Bette Midler in small roles. Then there's Candice Bergen as Mary's ruthlessly practical mother, and Debra Messing and Jada Pinkett Smith as Mary and Sylvie's one-note friends.

It's a high-powered cast, but it has painfully little to work with, apart from widely varying humor. Sometimes it's absurdist, as in the ridiculous "Terminator"-like scene in which Bening scopes out Saks in computer-animated shop-o-vision. More often, it's just stale, as when Smith brings out a series of cheap sexist stereotypes to explain why being gay is great. (Apparently male partners don't like asking for directions, but lesbian partners love it.)

English seems to be shooting for a brightly artificial Nora Ephron tone, but it curdles rapidly among all the strained dialogue and screeching deliveries. Apart from Mendes' smug, catty man-eater, none of the characters particularly stands out as interesting, let alone sympathetic. As in Cukor's film, they're all rich, spoiled and full of themselves, but where Cukor reveled in catfights and gossip, English forces her characters to look serious and solemn as they live, learn and love, all to the tune of soppy piano accompaniment. There's no real fun in their lives: They have careers and children to worry about, as well as straying, betraying men.

But where the complexities of 21st-century life are meant to strike a chord with viewers, English pushes them away with a hefty dose of modern crassness. Norma Shearer sighed theatrically in the Mary Haines role because her cheating husband squandered their "special connection" on another woman; Ryan snarls that he had no right to stray, given that she can "suck the nails out of a board." Where Shearer pined theatrically, Ryan dunks a stick of butter in cocoa and sugar and crams it into her mouth while yelling at her servants.

The one update that feels true to life is Mary's tween daughter, Molly. Rather than clinging to walls and wailing for "Mother dear" and "Daddy darling" not to separate, Molly (India Ennenga) tries to live down to the fashion-industry standards on display in Bening's magazine, then mopes because smoking, starving herself, underdressing and contemplating sex still don't make her feel beautiful. English overplays the theme, with Molly explaining herself in mannered detail to Sylvie, but at least it's a scenario that real women might recognize. The rest of the film, with its wish-fulfillment gushiness, its lame humor and its limp stereotypes, is straight out of a terrible chick-lit novel.

But most surprisingly, English neglects the original movie's best facet: the glamorous designs, gorgeous cinematography and polished production of an old-Hollywood production. "The Women" doesn't come anywhere near its technical prowess. Uneven lighting makes the stars' faces fuzzy or lopsided. Thickly applied makeup and unflatteringly artificial hair make Bening and Ryan look like Barbie dolls fresh from the factory. The sound design is distractingly flat, and the music is overwrought. "What do you think this is, some kind of 1930s movie?" Mary bellows at her mother at one point. If only it were.

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MPAA rating: PG-13 (for sex-related material, language, some drug use and brief smoking).

Running time: 1:54.

Starring: Meg Ryan (Mary Haines); Annette Bening (Sylvie Fowler); Eva Mendes (Crystal Allen); Debra Messing (Edie Cohen); Jada Pinkett Smith (Alex Fisher).

Directed and written by: Diane English, based on the play by Clare Boothe Luce; edited by Tia Nolan; photographed by Anastas Michos; music by Mark Isham; production design by Jane Musky; produced by Victoria Pearman, Mick Jagger, Bill Johnson and English. A Picturehouse release.

 

The Women Movie Review Starring Meg Ryan, Annette Bening, Eva Mendes, Debra Messing, Jada Pinkett Smith | Film Critic Michael Phillips Reviews The Women | Video
Jada Pinkett Smith, Annette Bening, Meg Ryan & Debra Messing

 

About "The Women" the Movie

What happens when you combine a brilliant, all-female, all-star cast, headed by Meg Ryan and Annette Bening; celebrated comedy writer/director/producer Diane English ("Murphy Brown"); and a classic story about a circle of New York friends? The answer is THE WOMEN, a smart, sparkling comedy about contemporary womanhood and the power of female relationships.

Based on George Cukor's 1939 film and Clare Boothe Luce's 1936 stage play, THE WOMEN whisks us into a busy pocket of Manhattan society, where the publishing, fashion and finance industries play. At the center of the tale is Ryan's character, Mary Haines, a thoroughly modern woman suddenly confronted with an age-old dilemma: a cheating husband. The ladies in her life swiftly rally to Mary's side, led by her best friend, Sylvie Fowler, a dynamic magazine editor played by Bening. But when Sylvie betrays Mary in a Faustian bargain, the entire group is shaken to the core -- and two women face the most painful breakup of all -- their friendship.

Like its predecessors, THE WOMEN unfolds in an entirely female world; men are richly portrayed, but are never seen onscreen. Making her feature debut, English creates a multigenerational tapestry that encompasses post-feminist baby boomers, post-menopausal women and pre-teen girls. Fittingly, THE WOMEN boasts one of the most impressive rosters of female actors ever assembled in one film. Joining Ryan and Bening in the principal cast are Eva Mendes, Debra Messing, Jada Pinkett Smith, Candice Bergen, Bette Midler, Cloris Leachman, Carrie Fisher, and Debi Mazar. The supporting cast includes superb veterans Joanna Gleason and Lynn Whitfield as well as fresh young faces Tilly Scott Pedersen and India Ennenga.

In creating a 21st Century version of THE WOMEN, English maintains the wit, pacing and outrageousness of the original while reflecting the immense changes to women's lives since the 1930s. And while Luce's play was a poison pen letter to the society women she loathed, English's film is a valentine to today's woman, an appreciation of her efforts to navigate a complex web of choices, roles and responsibilities. English's women are a diverse lot, professionally, economically and ethnically; not all of them are married, nor are all of them heterosexual. What they are is funny, enterprising, and very protective of their own. THE WOMEN portrays their troubles and triumphs with a gimlet eye and generous heart; it is a comedy of both style and substance.

Mary Haines (Meg Ryan) appears to have a perfect life: a beautiful home in Connecticut, a lovely 12-year old daughter, a successful Wall Street honcho husband, and a part-time career as a designer for her father's clothing company. Mary not only seems to have it all, she seems to do it all: whether it's planting perennials in the garden; following in her mother's footsteps as co-chair of a Central Park women's committee; or personally doing the cooking for a benefit luncheon, despite having the full-time help of her beloved housekeeper Maggie, (Cloris Leachman) and a nanny, Uta (Tilly Scott Pederson). If she's a little frazzled at times, who can blame her?

One thing Mary can always count on is the wonderful company of her girlfriends, like her best pal, style maven Sylvie Fowler (Annette Bening). A woman of impeccable chic and rapier wit, Sylvie is happily single and at the top of her field as the newly-installed editor of the venerable women's magazine CACHET. Mary and Sylvie's close-knit circle also includes Edie Cohen (Debra Messing), an eccentric mother-hen to her girlfriends as well as her ever-expanding brood of children. And then there's humor essayist Alex Fisher (Jada Pinkett Smith), a glamorous ladies' lady with her own special gift for telling people the last thing they want to hear.

But for these longtime friends, all hell is about to break loose. The trouble starts at in the Beauty Salon at Saks Fifth Avenue, of all places, where Sylvie sits down with the hot new manicurist in town, Tanya (Debi Mazar). Within moments, chatty Tanya is spilling the beans about the store's resident gold-digger, a perfume "spritzer girl" named Crystal Allen (Eva Mendes) who has landed one very big, married fish: a Wall Street tycoon named Stephen Haines. The anguished Sylvie finds herself in a dilemma, one that soon spreads to her girlfriends: what, if anything, to tell Mary? But before the friends can come to an agreement, Mary -- who has just been fired from her job by her own father -- ends up getting a manicure at Saks. From Tanya.

Mary's female comrades close ranks around her, each offering strong opinions about what she should do. Ultimately, Mary decides to heed the advice of her mother Catherine (Candice Bergen), an irreverent parent who has grappled with any number of life issues, from straying husbands to aging. Together, Mary, Catherine and Mary's daughter Molly (India Ennenga) take an all-girl break at Catherine's summer cottage in Maine.

Meanwhile, Sylvie is having her own troubles at work, where her efforts to remake CACHET have yet to yield much success. With her dream job in danger, Sylvie tries to recruit famed gossip columnist Bailey Smith (Carrie Fisher) to write for the magazine. But Bailey -- who is penning an expose of Wall Street marriages -- drives a hard bargain, with a nasty price: Mary's privacy. Backed into a corner, Sylvie chooses career over her best friend. For Mary, Sylvie's betrayal is the cruelest blow of all. She cuts Sylvie out of her life and embarks on an extended period of soul-searching, with detours for sloppiness and sugar. Eventually, she lands at a women's health camp high in the Berkshires, where she meets Leah "The Countess" Miller (Bette Midler), a flamboyant, reefer-loving Hollywood agent, whose buoyantly pragmatic philosophy proves inspirational.

Returning to New York, Mary begins to reconnect with the woman she has always been, but lost sight of in trying to be all things to all people. She finds a fresh clarity about what, and who, matters most to her in this world. That understanding will prove crucial on the day she comes face to face with the person who hurt her most deeply, but whose absence she feels most keenly: Sylvie.

And so it is with a new sense of certainty that Mary Haines strides forward into her new life. She knows what she wants, and with a little help from all the women in her life, she's going to get it, too.

About the Cast "The Women" the Movie

Annette Bening (Sylvie Fowler)

Annette Bening has been nominated for an Academy Award for her work in three prestigious films: THE GRIFTERS (as Best Supporting Actress) as well as American Beauty and Being Julia (as Best Actress).

The gifted star has also appeared on stage in numerous productions, earning a Tony Award nomination for her role on Broadway in "Coastal Disturbances" in 1987 before she made her screen debut opposite Dan Aykroyd in the comedy THE GREAT OUTDOORS in 1988.

Roles in films such as VALMONT and POSTCARDS FROM THE EDGE led to her success in THE GRIFTERS in 1990. Leading roles in the films LOVE AFFAIR and BUGSY coincided with her real-life coupling with co-star Warren Beatty. Other films included GUILTY BY SUSPICION, REGARDING HENRY, MARS ATTACKS, RICHARD III, THE AMERICAN PRESIDENT, MRS. HARRIS, THE SIEGE, WHAT PLANET ARE YOU FROM?, IN DREAMS, OPEN RANGE and RUNNING WITH SCISSORS.

A native of Topeka, Kansas, she grew up in San Diego and studied drama at San Francisco State University and the American Conservatory Theater in San Francisco before traveling to New York City and finding success there on stage.

Candice Bergen (Catherine Frazier)

Candice Bergen was born into a show business family that was headed by her father, ventriloquist Edgar Bergen, and her mother, Frances, an actress and dancer. She made her professional debut at the age of 6 on her father's popular radio show, but delayed entering show business while completing her education and learning photography as an avocation.

She made her film debut as a co-star in the 1966 drama THE GROUP, following with roles in the films The Sand Pebbles; The Day The Fish Came Out; The Magus; The Adventurers; The Executioner; Getting Straight; Soldier Blue; Carnal Knowledge; The Hunting Party; T.R. Baskin; 11 Harrowhouse; The Wind And The Lion; Bite The Bullet; The Domino Principle; Oliver's Story; Starting Over (for which she earned an Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actress); RICH AND FAMOUS; GANDHI; 2010; and STICK, before finding success in television as the star of creator and producer Diane English's acclaimed situation comedy, "Murphy Brown," for which she won five EMMY Awards as Best Actress in a Comedy Series.

Her recent films include MISS CONGENIALITY, SWEET HOME ALABAMA, VIEW FROM THE TOP and THE IN-LAWS. She currently co-stars on the celebrated ABC television series "Boston Legal," and recently received her second EMMY Award nomination as Best Supporting Actress in a Drama Series for her work on that program.

India Ennenga (Molly Haines)

Despite her young age, India Ennenga has already distinguished herself as a tremendous actress. In the last year, this talented and precocious actress has completed two feature films in addition to THE WOMEN. In Brooks Branch's highly anticipated independent film MULTIPLE SARCASMS, she portrays Timothy Hutton and Dana Delaney's daughter, co-starring with Mira Sorvino, Stockard Channing and Mario Van Peeples. She also starred opposite Jason Behr in Stephen Clark's low budget feature film FROST, which made its World Premiere at Slamdance 2008. The film also stars Lucy Gordon, Monet Mazur and Krysten Ritter. Additional credits include the title character in the award winning short film, CELAMY, produced by Kulture Machine; and 26 episodes of the cartoon, "Pinky Dinky Doo," a co-production of Sesame Workshop and Nickelodeon, in which India played the lead character, Pinky. The popular "Pinky" has aired for the last couple of years on both Noggin and Nickelodeon and India is presently recording the second season.

Carrie Fisher (Bailey Smith)

Since her feature debut opposite Warren Beatty in SHAMPOO in 1975, Carrie Fisher has been a compelling force in the film industry. She attained international recognition as Princess Leia, a role that made her a cultural icon, in the box office sensation STAR WARS and the smash hit sequels THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK and RETURN OF THE JEDI. Other acting credits include THE BLUES BROTHERS, GARBO TALKS, THE MAN WITH ONE RED SHOE, HANNAH AND HER SISTERS, THE BURBS, THIS IS MY LIFE, WHEN HARRY MET SALLY, AUSTIN POWERS, JAY AND SILENT BOB STRIKE BACK, along with CHARLIES ANGELS II, WONDERLAND, STATESIDE, "Weeds," "30 Rock," and the upcoming COUGAR CLUB and FANBOYS. Along with Julia Roberts, Fisher is one of the top grossing females of all time (having more to do with the films she was in, than with her…but still…)

Fisher became a sensation with The New York Times bestseller, POSTCARDS FROM THE EDGE, for which she won the Los Angeles Pen Award for Best First Novel. Two additional best selling novels, SURRENDER THE PINK and DELUSIONS OF GRANDMA, followed. Along with writing THESE OLD BROADS for ABC TV, Fisher also wrote the screenplay based on her best seller POSTCARDS FROM THE EDGE, which starred Meryl Streep and Shirley MacLaine. She is currently working on a project for John Wells as well as having various other television and film projects in the works.

On top of all that, she still finds time to write original pieces and conduct interviews for various leading magazines and newspapers, including Harper's Bazaar, Vogue, Details, Travel & Leisure, and The New York Times.

Ms. Fisher's fourth and most recent novel, "The Best Awful," received rave reviews and is out in paperback now. She is currently adapting "The Best Awful" for HBO, with Bruce Cohen and Dan Jinks producing.

Carrie Fisher's experience with mental illness and addiction has made her a very popular speaker on the lecture circuit as well. She has appeared on the Senate floor urging state legislators to increase government funding on medication for people living with mental health issues. She has received dozens of various awards for her courage and commitment to fighting mental illness and the stigmas that are associated with it. Her outrageous sense of humor makes her an ideal speaker for other compelling issues such as surviving single motherhood and growing up Hollywood with a point of view that few celebrities have.

Ms. Fisher completed the first run of her hit autobiographical one-woman show, "Wishful Drinking" at The Geffen Playhouse in Los Angeles.

She resides in Los Angeles with her daughter, Billie, and occasional house-guests. And her mother lives next door to her, as well.

Joanna Gleason (Barbara Delacorte)

Joanna Gleason is best known for Broadway shows including "Into The Woods," for which she won the Best Actress Tony, "Joe Egg," "Nick and Nora," "Dirty Rotten Scoundrels," "The Real Thing," "I Love My Wife," and Off Broadway shows including "The Normal Heart" and "Something You Did." She has appeared in Woody Allen's CRIMES AND MISDEMEANORS and HANNAH AND HER SISTERS, BOOGIE NIGHTS and MR. HOLLAND'S OPUS, as well as the hit movie SEX AND THE CITY and the upcoming THE REBOUND. She lives with husband, actor Chris Sarandon, in Connecticut.

Cloris Leachman (Maggie)

Cloris Leachman has gained worldwide acclaim for her film and television work, especially in comedy films directed by Mel Brooks such as YOUNG FRANKENSTEIN (playing the diabolical ‘Frau Blucher') and HIGH ANXIETY (as the ultra-strict ‘Nurse Diesel').

During her versatile career she has earned an Academy Award as Best Supporting Actress for her dramatic role in Peter Bogdanovich's THE LAST PICTURE SHOW in 1971 as well as five EMMY Awards: two for "Malcolm in the Middle" (2006 and 2000) and one for "Promised Land" (1998), "The Mary Tyler Moore Show" (1975) and "A Brand New Life" (1973).

Her most recent film work includes roles in SKY HIGH, SCARY MOVIE 4, SPANGLISH, BEERFEST, THE LONGEST YARD, BAD SANTA, ALEX AND EMMA and MANNA FROM HEAVEN as well as the television productions "Malcolm in the Middle," "Lake Placid 2," "The Wedding Bells," "Two and a Half Men" and "The Ellen Show," among many others.

Cloris Leachman is currently touring the U.S. with her new one-woman show "Cloris!" and her autobiography, also titled "Cloris!" will be published in 2009.

Debi Mazar (Tanya)

Debi Mazar, a New York native, made her feature film debut in Martin Scorsese's GOOD FELLAS as Ray Liotta's junkie mistress. She went on to work with such noted directors as Oliver Stone, Spike Lee, Joel Schumacher, Barry Levinson, Jodie Foster, F. Gary Gray, Michael Mann and Woody Allen.

Mazar also made her mark in the independent film world co-starring in such offbeat films as Nick Cassavete's SHE'S SO LOVELY and Steve Buscemi's directorial debut, TREES LOUNGE. Some of Mazar's other notable films include BATMAN FOREVER, MALCOLM X, BE COOL, COLLATERAL and THE INSIDER.

She made her television debut on Steven Bochco's "Civil Wars," and her character was then added to "LA Law." Mazar then developed and starred in her own sitcom "Temporarily Yours," created by Michael Patrick King. She was also a regular on the series "That's Life" with Ellen Burstyn.

Mazar currently portrays uber-publicist "Shauna" on HBO's hit series "Entourage."

Mazar is married to Gabriele Corcos. They have two young daughters and live in Los Angeles and Florence, Italy. The couple has a very successful Internet cooking show, underthetuscangun.com

Eva Mendes (Crystal Allen)

Eva Mendes captured the attention of moviegoers in a small, but pivotal role in the critically acclaimed film, TRAINING DAY. Since then, she has proven adept at both comedic and dramatic roles, and has worked with an esteemed and diverse group of directors and co-stars. Her upcoming films include the independent feature, LIVE!, in which she stars and which marks her debut as an executive producer; and the fantasy thriller, THE SPIRIT, opposite Samuel L. Jackson and Gabriel Macht, directed by SIN CITY and 300 creator Frank Miller, which will be released Christmas Day 2008.

Recent credits include James Gray's critically acclaimed WE OWN THE NIGHT, opposite Joaquin Phoenix, Mark Wahlberg and Robert Duval; the comedy blockbuster HITCH, opposite Will Smith; the record-breaking box office GHOST RIDER, opposite Nicolas Cage; and Bart Freundlich's TRUST THE MAN, opposite Julianne Moore, Maggie Gyllenhaal and Billy Crudup. Additional credits include Carl Franklin's OUT OF TIME, opposite Denzel Washington; Robert Rodriguez's ONCE UPON A TIME IN MEXICO, opposite Johnny Depp; 2 FAST 2 FURIOUS; ALL ABOUT THE BENJAMINS, opposite Ice Cube; and the Farrelly Brothers' STUCK ON YOU, opposite Matt Damon and Greg Kinnear.

Mendes was recently engaged by Calvin Klein Fragrances for an upcoming Calvin Klein Fragrances advertising campaign, as well as a second global campaign for Calvin Klein Underwear, both of which will debut worldwide in Fall 2008. In addition to numerous other prestigious international advertising and endorsement campaigns, Mendes was previously an international spokesperson for Revlon Cosmetics and has been an active participant and ardent supporter in Revlon's commitment in the fight against breast cancer.

Mendes, who is Cuban-American, was born in Miami and raised in Los Angeles. She began acting in college and went on to study with the respected acting coach Ivana Chubbuck.

Debra Messing (Edie Cohen)

Debra Messing has found success in both television and film. She is best known for her EMMY Award-winning performance as "Grace Adler" on the critically acclaimed television series "Will & Grace," which also garnered her six Golden Globe nominations, four EMMY nominations, two American Comedy Award nominations and one individual People's Choice Award nomination. Last year, Messing was seen in USA Network's miniseries "The Starter Wife," for which she received an EMMY and Golden Globe nomination. Because of the successful run of the miniseries, the network decided to turn it into a regular television series, with Messing reprising her lead role.

Messing has also been seen in numerous feature films including THE WEDDING DATE, opposite Dermot Mulroney; ALONG CAME POLLY, with Ben Stiller and Jennifer Aniston; PURPLE VIOLETS, directed by Edward Burns; Woody Allen's comedy HOLLYWOOD ENDING, opposite Woody Allen and Tea Leoni; and THE MOTHMAN PROPHECIES, opposite Richard Gere. Most recently, Messing wrapped production on HUMBOLDT PARK, where she stars opposite John Leguizamo and Alfred Molina.

Well-versed in stage work, she has appeared on Broadway in Tony Kushner's acclaimed play "Angels in America: Perestroika," as well as in such off-Broadway productions as "Four Dogs and a Bone" and "Collected Stories".

Born in Brooklyn, New York and raised outside of Providence, Rhode Island, she studied drama at Brandeis University before earning her MFA at New York University.

Bette Midler (Leah "The Countess" Miller)

Bette Midler grew up in Honolulu, Hawaii, where she began singing at an early age. After playing an extra in the film, HAWAII, she finally earned enough money to move to New York City where she starred on Broadway, playing Tzeitel, the oldest daughter in the hit musical, "Fiddler on the Roof."

Once she began singing in clubs around town, word reached the owner of the famed Continental Baths, who immediately offered her a job. Performing at the Baths, she developed the trademark act that would soon make her one of the most renowned talents of a generation. Her performances of songs like "Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy," "Delta Dawn" and "Superstar" were unforgettable and caused audiences to fall in love with the self-anointed "Divine Miss M." After being discovered by Ahmet Ertugun, the legendary president of Atlantic Records, Midler recorded her first album, The Divine Miss M, which hit #9 on Billboard's Top 200 Chart and went platinum. In 1973, she won her first Grammy for Best New Artist. Throughout the 1970's, 80's and 90's, Midler's chart-topping career continued to flourish as she released dozens of hit albums.

After successfully touring the world and returning to Broadway in the Tony-winning "Clams On The Halfshell," Hollywood beckoned.

Midler's first starring role in the feature film, THE ROSE, garnered two Golden Globe Awards, a Grammy for the film's title song and a best actress Academy Award nomination. Midler then went on to star in many successful films including Down And Out In Beverly Hills, Ruthless People, Outrageous Fortune, Big Business, Beaches, Stella, Scenes From A Mall, For The Boys, Hocus Pocus, The First Wives Club, Isn't She Great and, most recently, Oscar winner Helen Hunt's directorial debut, THEN SHE FOUND ME.

In addition to her work on stage and in films, Midler made her mark on television with the EMMY Award-winning CBS special "Ol' Red Hair is Back," and two HBO concerts, LIVE AT LAST and ART OR BUST. HBO's concert film DIVA LAS VEGAS won an EMMY Award for her performance.

In 1992, Midler won a Golden Globe and a National Board of Review award for her performance in the television adaptation of the musical GYPSY.

After all these years, four Grammys, four Golden Globes, three EMMYS, a Tony Award and numerous record-breaking performances, the "Divine Miss M" is still going strong. In February, 2008, Midler premiered her new critically-acclaimed headlining act "The Showgirl Must Go On" at The Colosseum at Caesars Palace where she will perform for two years.

Outside of the spotlight, Midler takes great pride as the founder of the New York Restoration Project, which she established in 1995. The organization works to uncover, reclaim and clean up neglected public spaces while nurturing community empowerment and fostering civic pride in local New York communities. Midler currently lives in New York City with her husband Martin von Haselberg and daughter, Sophie.

Tilly Scott Pederson (Uta)

Tilly Scott Pederson studied acting in her native Denmark before appearing in such Danish productions as JUST LIKE HOME, DARK HORSE, STEREOMONGREL and GO' AFTEN DANMARK before she relocated to New York City in 2006.

She most recently appeared in the short film THE TIDES.

Jada Pinkett Smith (Alex Fisher)

Jada Pinkett Smith recently made her feature directing debut with the film THE HUMAN CONTRACT, which she also wrote. The multi-talented entertainer and best-selling author fronts a hard rock band, Wicked Wisdom, which toured in 2006 as part of Ozzfest. Pinkett Smith heads her own production company, 100% Womon, and was executive producer of the films THE SEAT FILLER and RIDE OR DIE, as well as the television series "All of Us."

Born in Maryland, she studied dance and acting at the Baltimore School of the Arts as well as the North Carolina School of the Arts before making her professional debut on the "Cosby Show" spin-off, "A Different World." She went on to appear in the films MENACE II SOCIETY, JASON'S LYRIC, THE INKWELL and A LOWDOWN DIRTY SHAME before making her big breakthrough with the one-two punch of the hit comedy THE NUTTY PROFESSOR (with Eddie Murphy) and the edgy drama SET IT OFF (with Queen Latifah) a few months later.

Pinkett Smith went on to star in such films as SCREAM 2, WOO, BAMBOOZLED, KINGDOM COME, ALI, THE MATRIX RELOADED, THE MATRIX REVOLUTIONS, COLLATERAL and REIGN OVER ME, as well as recorded characters for the animated features PRINCESS MONONOKE, MADAGASCAR and MADAGASCAR: THE CRATE ESCAPE. She is married to actor Will Smith, with whom she develops and produces films, television series and new media projects.

Meg Ryan (Mary Haines)

Meg Ryan saw her film career go full circle when she signed to star in THE WOMEN. She had made her onscreen feature debut in 1981's RICH AND FAMOUS, playing the daughter of Candice Bergen…who plays her mother ‘Catherine Frazier' in THE WOMEN.

During a celebrated career that includes three Golden Globe nominations (for the hit comedies YOU'VE GOT MAIL, SLEEPLESS IN SEATTLE and WHEN HARRY MET SALLY), the versatile leading lady has excelled in genres ranging from drama (WHEN A MAN LOVES A WOMAN, COURAGE UNDER FIRE) to science fiction and fantasy (INNERSPACE, CITY OF ANGELS) to action adventure (PROOF OF LIFE, THE PRESIDIO) to docudrama (playing Pamela Courson, Jim Morrison's partner, in Oliver Stone's THE DOORS).

Born in Fairfield, Connecticut, she attended New York University before finding immediate success in daytime television dramas such as "As the World Turns" after making her 1981 film debut in RICH AND FAMOUS. Roles in such films as TOP GUN, ARMED AND DANGEROUS and D.O.A. led to her breakthrough performance opposite Billy Crystal in director Rob Reiner's blockbuster comedy WHEN HARRY MET SALLY in 1989.

Always in demand, she starred in such films as RESTORATION, JOE VERSUS THE VOLCANO, PRELUDE TO A KISS, I.Q., FRENCH KISS (which she also produced), ADDICTED TO LOVE, PROMISED LAND, HURLYBURLY, HANGING UP, IN THE CUT, AGAINST THE ROPES, MY MOM'S NEW BOYFRIEND and IN THE LAND OF WOMEN.

Meg will next be seen in THE DEAL opposite Bill Macy, and SERIOUS MOONLIGHT, the Adrienne Shelly - scripted comedy with Timothy Hutton, Justin Long and Kristen Bell.

Lynn Whitfield (Glenda Hill)

Celebrated for her award-winning portrayal of the world's first black international star, Josephine Baker, in the television film THE JOSEPHINE BAKER STORY, Lynn Whitfield has enjoyed a busy career in film, television, and theatre since the early 1980s.

Born in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, Whitfield earned a bachelors degree at Howard University. She began her professional career in Off Broadway productions in New York City, earning acclaim in the early 1980s for her performance in Ntozake Shange's "For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide/When the Rainbow is Enuf."

Over the next several years, Whitfield maintained an active career in films and television. She starred opposite Denzel Washington in the television film THE GEORGE MCKENNA STORY (1986) and co-starred with Oprah Winfrey in the acclaimed miniseries "The Women of Brewster Place" (1989). Her feature film credits included THE SLUGGER'S WIFE (1985) and DEAD AIM (1990).

Whitfield catapulted to fame in 1991 with her EMMY-Award winning performance in THE JOSEPHINE BAKER STORY. Whitfield won the highly publicized search for the role of Baker, beating out more than 500 women worldwide. She also received an NAACP Image Award in 1992 for her role in the drama series, "Stompin' at the Savoy."

Whitfield's latest films include the upcoming MAMA, I WANT TO SING!, with Ciara and Patti La Belle; KINGS OF THE EVENING, with Tyson Beckford. She will appear in a cameo role in SISTERHOOD OF THE TRAVELING PANTS 2. Additional credits include the feature films A THIN LINE BETWEEN LOVE AND HATE, EVE'S BAYOU, HEAD OF STATE and MADEA'S FAMILY REUNION; the television film REDEMPTION; and the ABC miniseries, "The Wedding" (1998).

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