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MY ONE AND ONLY

ON THE ROAD WITH ANN AND GEORGE …
George Hamilton is the executive producer – and the subject – of My One and Only, the film that tells a story from his teenage years when his mother finally left her womanising and hard drinking band leader husband. But the film is more a funny road trip than a drama, thanks to the wit of the screenplay.


Screenwriter Charlie Peters explains that the story began with an exchange between the late entertainment mogul Merv Griffin and George Hamilton about the actor’s early life and experiences with his mother.

For those who can’t place Hamilton, he’s the one noted these days for his jet-setter image and perpetual tan. Hamilton has a list of over 100 movie and TV credits. Some memorable roles include his 1979 turn in Love at First Bite as Count Dracula, his role in several eps of Dynasty, a support role in Godfather III, plus a guest appearance in Crocodile Dundee in Los Angeles.

Bob Kosberg, a producer who worked with Griffin and knew Hamilton, introduced the two, certain that Hamilton’s witty stories would inspire Griffin to think they were worthy of the big screen.

"George Hamilton arrived in his white Rolls Royce"

“I was called by Bob Kosberg, a producer friend; he said that Merv had come across an interesting story,” recalls Peters. “I met with Merv at the venerable Hollywood hangout Trader Vic’s, and George Hamilton arrived in his white Rolls Royce. He sat down and just started telling me about his mother and how he ended up in Los Angeles, where he was eventually discovered.”

Peters loved the tale and soon built upon it, turning it into a script that captured the attitudes of the early 50s, combined with the humour and irony of Hamilton’s unique story and profiles of some unforgettable characters. “I’ve probably read half a dozen scripts as good as this in my life,” says director Richard Loncraine, who was originally hired in 1999 by Beacon Pictures for the project. “One of the things I love about the film is that you can’t really put it into a box. It’s many things, but all I know is I love it.”

For almost 10 years the script made the development rounds at various studios until Merv Griffin got it back in turnaround. Peters convinced him that the only place to get the genredefying story off the ground was in the independent production world. Loncraine, who had been attached to the project in its early days, was still interested in directing, so the trio sought a producer.

Producer Aaron Ryder, whom Griffin had met over the course of other project discussions, was struck by Peters’ exceptional writing, and quickly saw the potential of the project. He immediately understood “what a fantastic role Ann would be for whoever was going to play this mother.”

The story begins in 1953, after her womanizing bandleader husband Dan Hamilton [aka Deveraux] (Kevin Bacon) exhausts her patience, and Ann Deveraux (Renee Zellwegger) takes her two sons George (Logan Lerman) and Robbie (Mark Rendall) from New York on a roadtrip to Pittsburgh and St. Louis - staying briefly and uncomfortably with her childless sister Hope (Robin Weigert) - and eventually Hollywood, in her quest to find a man to take care of them all. After several duds, she meets Bill Massey (David Koechner) whose family has a house paint business and appears to be most suitable.

"the ability to play dramatic and comedic roles with equal skill and grace"

Said Ryder, “There are very few actresses who are able to maintain an empathy with the audience even though the character herself might be a little flawed.” Ryder believed that Renée Zellweger’s “charm and un-forced sense of comedy” was perfect for what he calls “a classic role.” An Academy Award and Golden Globe-winning performer, Zellweger has demonstrated the ability to play dramatic and comedic roles with equal skill and grace. The producers agreed that she’d bring Ann Devereaux to life in all her vivid dimensions.

Zellweger read the script while on another shoot and couldn’t put it down. “It made me laugh out loud in so many places,” recalls Zellweger. “I loved how quick-witted all the characters were, I loved the flow of it. I couldn’t wait to find out who would play the boys and who would play Dan, and I couldn’t wait to get to the set and start working on Ann.”

“At the start of the story, Ann likes to think of herself as a little Katherine Hepburn around the edges,” says Zellweger. “She has idealized her life as a New York socialite and is just going through the motions as a mother. After leaving Dan, she intends to set up the same camp somewhere else with another provider and get on with her life of being fabulous, but she accidentally evolves into a very capable person.”

Published March 11, 2010
 

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