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A proud, born-and-bred Jersey girl, Stephanie Plum’s got plenty of attitude, even if she’s been out of work for the last six months and just lost her car to a debt collector. Desperate for some fast cash, Stephanie turns to her last resort: convincing her sleazy cousin to give her a job at his bail bonding company…as a recovery agent.
True, she doesn’t even own a pair of handcuffs and her weapon of choice is pepper spray, but that doesn’t stop Stephanie from taking on Vinny’s biggest bail-jumper: former vice cop and murder suspect Joe Morelli – yup, the same sexy, irresistible Joe Morelli who seduced and dumped her back in high school.
Nabbing Morelli would be satisfying payback – and a hefty payday – but as Stephanie learns the ins and outs of becoming a recovery agent from Ranger, a hunky colleague who’s the best in the business, she also realizes the case against Morelli isn’t airtight. Add to the mix her meddling family, a potentially homicidal boxer, witnesses who keep dying and the problem of all those flying sparks when she finds Morelli himself…well, suddenly Stephanie’s new job isn’t nearly as easy as she thought.
Starring Katherine Heigl, ‘One For The Money’ is a fresh, funny action-comedy directed by Julie Anne Robinson and also starring Jason O’Mara, Daniel Sunjata, John Leguizamo, Debbie Reynolds and Debra Monk. Based on the novel by Janet Evanovich.
Over sixteen years ago, before it hit bookstores and the bestseller list, One For The Money caught the attention of producer Wendy Finerman. “When I first read the galleys, I thought Stephanie Plum was the most relatable, enjoyable character anyone could connect with,” Finerman recalls.
“She’s a little bit of an every-woman. She’s outspoken and she’s brash and fun. And she’s hit a sticky point where things haven’t worked out like she planned. She’s back in her hometown, trying to sort out her life.” Finerman spent years developing a screen adaptation, working with different writers on several variations of the story. At one point, a Stephanie Plum television series was seriously considered.
But Finerman still felt the adaptations hadn’t effectively captured the tone of Evanovich’s sharp dialogue and her skillful mix of suspense and character-based comedy. “Janet does an amazing job combining humor and drama,” she explains. “That’s a very hard thing to capture on film. She’s so detailed in her writing, so it’s difficult to capture the world she creates and the sassiness she gives to Stephanie.”
Eventually the project found its way to Lakeshore Entertainment, where Finerman partnered with producers Tom Rosenberg and Gary Lucchesi. “I was introduced to the material by my wife,” Lucchesi recalls. “Every year she’d bring home another Janet Evanovich book and at a certain point there were twelve of them on the shelves and I turned to her one day and I said, ‘What is it with these books?’ she said, ‘They’re fantastic books.’ So I read the first three and I thought they were great.
It happened to be at that time we were making The Ugly Truth for Sony Pictures and had discovered that Sony held the rights to this material.” Like Finerman, Lucchesi and Rosenberg knew that effectively translating Evanovich’s sparkling tone to film was crucial to the project’s success.
“I was attracted to the fact that Stephanie Plum is a working class hero,” says Rosenberg, “and I thought it was the right time to deliver that to audiences. Stephanie isn’t a doctor or a lawyer. She’s very relatable and we thought that honesty and vulnerability would make her a character moviegoers could get behind.”
But finding the right screenwriter proved difficult. Lucchesi explains, “It wasn’t until Liz Brixius, who’s the show runner on ‘Nurse Jackie,’ became involved that we found a writer who could completely capture the voice of the material.”
“Liz brought not only her experience as a successful screenwriter and filmmaker to the project,” observes Rosenberg, “but also her love for the books and for Stephanie herself. She was terrific at guiding the journey of the character from the page to the screen.”
For Brixius, adapting One For The Money for the screen wasn’t just any job offer. “The whole thing started for me about 10 years ago when my sister gave me a paperback to read on the plane ride home from L.A. to Minneapolis,” Brixius recounts. “I read One For The Money and fell in love with it. I read the second one. Read the third one.
My sister’s read all of them. Then I got a phone call on the set of ‘Nurse Jackie’ from my manager saying, ‘Lakeshore wants you to read One For The Money. I’m like, ‘I already read One For The Money. I know One For The Money. I love One For The Money!’
Moments after she got the job, Brixius felt the immensity of the responsibility she had enthusiastically taken on. “This comes out of Janet Evanovich’s brain,” she explains, “and it’s beloved by millions and millions of people and you just want to do it justice.”
Meanwhile, Lucchesi and Rosenberg had become friendly with Katherine Heigl on the set of The Ugly Truth and thought Stephanie Plum would be an appealing change of pace for the actress. Lucchesi explains, “Katherine’s a very interesting actress and extraordinarily talented. We wanted to see her play a slightly more adult character that was a little tougher, a little bit out for the norm. She responded to that challenge.”
Continues Rosenberg, “Katie’s talent lies in her versatility. She is capable of comedy, romance, drama, all of which are present in the script for One For The Money. In this film she really is Stephanie Plum, she’s not Katherine Heigl.”
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