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Movie Previews Monte Carlo 2011

“Monte Carlo” is a summertime romantic comedy following the adventures of three young American girls vacationing in Paris. The Fox 2000 Picture is scheduled for release July 1 and the studio hopes to attract the coveted young female demographic. “Monte Carlo” stars Selena Gomez, Leighton Meester and Katie Cassidy who appeal to that specific audience and very much different from the original intended production.

The evolution of “Monte Carlo” dates back to 1999 when Fox secured the rights to the novel “Headhunters” by Jules Bass three years prior to publication. The plot was about four middle-aged New Jersey women husband hunting in Monte Carlo. Nicole Kidman was attached to the project since 2005 and still retains a producer’s credit. Thomas Bezucha was signed to direct and Julia Roberts announced to co-star with Kidman. The original script and concept were scrapped when the studio decided to pursue the youth market thus a re-worked script and new cast.

Bezucha remained with the film as director and also receives screenplay credit with April Blair and Maria Maggenti. Kelly Bowe has a story by credit. Bezucha is previous writer-director of the well received independent film “Big Eden” (2000) and “The Family Stone” (2005) with Claire Danes and Rachel McAdams. Blair scripted the 2011 Disney Channel movie “Lemonade Mouth” with Bridgit Mendler and teamed with Bowe for “Major Movie Star” (2008) starring Jessica Simpson. Maggenti is best known as writer-director of “The Incredibly True Adventures of Two Girls in Love” (1995).

New Jersey women became Texas schoolgirls. Grace (Gomez), her bff Emma (Cassidy) and soon-to-be stepsister Meg (Meester) have saved their money to fulfill a fantasy trip to Paris. Unfortunately for them, the visit proves a major disappointment and to liven things up, the girls invade a luxury hotel. Grace is mistaken for a British heiress named Cordelia. She decides to play along for fun and posh treatment and adopts a phony British accent. Soon matters become complicated when Frenchman Theo falls for the fake Cordelia and the girls are whisked away to a Monte Carlo adventure including a charity ball and missing necklace.

“Monte Carlo” is the first major starring movie role for top billed Selena Gomez who is seeking to make the leap from teen queen actress-singer to movie stardom. Gomez is best known for playing Alex Russo on the Disney Channel series “Wizards of Waverly Place” and girlfriend of Justin Bieber. Leighton Meester is a known quantity to the youth market from her role as Blair Waldorf on the TV series “Gossip Girl” plus starring roles in “Country Strong” (2010) and “The Roommate” (2011). Daughter of David, Katie Cassidy starred on  the shortlived revival of “Melrose Place,” had a recurring role on “Gossip Girl” and starred in the 2010 remake of “A Nightmare on Elm Street.”

“Glee” fans will recognize the show’s Finn Hudson Cory Monteith as Emma’s boyfriend Owen. Catherine Tate who plays Alicia is unknown in America but a very popular comedienne in Britain. French actor Pierre Boulanger makes his English language debut and first gained attention as the boy with Omar Sharif in “Monsieur Ibrahim” (2003).  Newcomer Luke Bracey (Riley) is an Australian actor who was on the down under soap “Home and Away.” Playing Grace’s mother is the ageless beauty Andie McDowell.

The film was shot on location in Dallas, Paris and Monaco with the majority done at Raleigh Studios in Budapest, Hungary. “Monte Carlo” is rated PG.