MICHELLE TRACHTENBERG IS HARRIET; ROSIE O'DONNELL HER MENTOR IN THE ACTION-COMEDY "HARRIET THE SPY"
Paramount Pictures And Nickelodeon Movies Collaborate
On Rastar Production Based On Best-Selling Young People's Novel;
Eartha Kitt In Special Cameo Role
HOLLYWOOD, Dec. 8 /PRNewswire/ -- Rosie O'Donnell has completed work starring with eleven year old Michelle Trachtenberg (the title role) in "Harriet the Spy," which wraps principal photography in Toronto on December 20. O'Donnell plays Golly, mentor to the fearless sixth-grade spy. Paramount Pictures in their first collaboration with Nickelodeon Movies, presents the Rastar production of "Harriet the Spy." The action-comedy is being produced by Marykay Powell and directed by Bronwen Hughes from a script by Douglas Petrie and Theresa Rebeck based on Louise Fitzhugh's best-selling book. Nava Levin is the co-producer. The cast also includes Vanessa Lee Chester, Gregory Smith, Robert Joy, J. Smith-Cameron and, in a special cameo appearance, Eartha Kitt.
"Harriet the Spy" is based on Louise Fitzhugh's much-loved, best- selling young people's novel about an 11-year-old girl who spies on her parents, neighbors and friends, candidly scribbling every detail of their comings and goings into her secret spy notebook. Awarded the New York Times Outstanding Book Award when it was first published by Harper Collins in 1964, "Harriet the Spy" has, to date, sold approximately 2.5 million copies.
Michelle Trachtenberg (Nickelodeon's "The Adventures of Pete & Pete") makes her big screen debut as Harriet, the world's most famous sixth-grade spy. Joining Trachtenberg in "Harriet the Spy" are Rosie O'Donnell ("The Flintstones") as Golly, her beloved companion and mentor; and Vanessa Lee Chester ("A Little Princess") and Gregory Smith ("Andre") as Harriet's best friends Janie, a mad scientist in training, and Sport; and, in a cameo, Eartha Kitt as the eccentric Agatha K. Plummer, one of Harriet's favorite neighbors to spy on.
Eleven-year old Michelle Trachtenberg can be seen on Nickelodeon's popular children's program "The Adventures of Pete & Pete," and on the ABC soap opera, "All My Children" where, for the past two years, she has played the challenging role of the autistic Lily Benton. Included among her other television credits are guest appearances on such programs as "Law and Order," "Saturday Night Live" and Nickelodeon's "Clarissa Explains it All."
Rosie O'Donnell stars in the upcoming "Beautiful Girls," with Uma Thurman and Timothy Hutton, and was recently in "Now and Then" with Demi Moore, Rita Wilson and Melanie Griffith. Since her film debut in Penny Marshall's 1992 comedy "A League of Their own," O'Donnell has starred in "Sleepless in Seattle," "Another Stakeout" and as Betty Rubble in "The Flintstones." On Broadway, she appeared in the role of Rizzo in the Tommy Tune revival of "Grease." In addition to her own one-hour comedy special on HBO for which she received an Emmy-nomination, O'Donnell hosted the top-rated "Stand Up Spotlight" on VH1, which she also executive produced.
Vanessa Lee Chester, 11, most recently appeared as Becky in the feature film "A Little Princess." Her other film appearances include "CB4," "Cookie" and "Honeymoon in Vegas." On television she has appeared as a regular on the ABC comedy series "Me & The Boys" and "Sesame Street," as well as on "Hangin' With Mr. Cooper," "In Living Color" and "The Robert Townsend Variety Show."
Twelve-year old Gregory Smith's credits include featured roles in the films "Big Bully" and "Andre," as well as starring roles in the Paramount video releases, "Leaping Leprechaun" and its sequel, "Leaping Leprechaun II." His television credits include the NBC movie "The Other Mother," and the upcoming MCA-TV cable feature, "The Adventure of Captain Zoom in Outer Space," as well as guest appearances in "The Commish," "Are You Afraid of the Dark?," "The Outer Limits," "M.A.N.T.I.S.," "Highlander," "Street Justice," "The Hat Squad" and "Sirens."
An internationally-renowned artist, Eartha Kitt's career has spanned theater, film, cabaret, television and the recording industry. Her recent film credits include "Fatal Instinct," "Unzipped" and "Boomerang"; and in 1958 she received an Academy Award nomination for "Anna Lucasta." For television, she originated the role of the infamous Catwoman on the long-running series "Batman," and has made guest appearances on such shows as "I Spy" and "Mission Impossible," and more recently, "New York Undercover" and "Living Single." Her most recent album, "Back in Business," was released on DRG in November, 1994.
Director Bronwen Hughes makes her feature film directorial debut with "Harriet the Spy." Hughes' credits include numerous short films for the Emmy-nominated late-night CBS comedy series "The Kids in the Hall," as well as the Gemini Award-winning "Elvis: Airborne," a one- hour entertainment documentary for the CTV Television Network on World Champion figure skater Elvis Stojko. Most recently, she directed "The Search for Lost Worlds: Machu Picchu" for the Discovery Channel. Hughes has extensive experience directing commercials and includes among her client base such international companies as Toyota, Isuzu, McDonald's, Rubbermaid, Air Canada, Hyundai, Canon, Clairol and Audi.
Producer Marykay Powell most recently executive produced the upcoming "Mariette in Ecstasy." She is also currently producing "To Gillian on Her 37th Birthday." Her other credits include "White Fang," "Violets Are Blue," "Baja Oklahoma" and "Listen to Me." For Rastar, she was executive producer on Neil Simon's "Biloxi Blues." In 1993, Powell won an Emmy and a Golden Globe for co-producing "Barbarians at the Gate" with Ray Stark.
Rastar, whose many feature credits include "Funny Girl," "The Way We Were" and "Steel Magnolias," obtained the film rights to the book "Harriet the Spy" in 1970. In the early nineties when Marykay Powell (then president of Ray Stark's Rastar Productions) took over the material, the project took momentum.
Nickelodeon Movies is the feature film development, production and marketing arm of Nickelodeon, the #1 kids TV channel in the United States. In addition to "Harriet," Nickelodeon Movies is developing several other projects with Paramount Pictures. Debby Beece, President, heads the division from its New York headquarters.
"Harriet the Spy" is Douglas Petrie's first produced screenplay. Petrie wrote, directed and produced a number of short films prior to becoming head writer on Nickelodeon's hit series "Clarissa Explains it All." He has also written comedy for VH1, Nick at Nite and the Comedy Channel.
Theresa Rebeck is a co-producer of the series "NYPD Blue" as well as "Here and Now." She was executive story editor on the acclaimed "Brooklyn Bridge" and has contributed episodes for "LA Law" and "Dream On." She wrote the Hearst/Lifetime television movie "Sequestered." For the stage, her credits include "Spike Heels," "Sunday on the Rocks," "Speakeasy," "Loose Knit" and "The Family of Mann." "Harriet the Spy" is her first produced screenplay.
The behind-the-camera talent includes director of photography Francis Kenny ("Wayne's World 2"), editor Deborah Chiate ("Clueless"), production designer Lester Cohen ("Georgia") and costume designer Donna Zakowska ("Mac").
Paramount Pictures and Nickelodeon Movies are both entertainment units of Viacom Inc.
/CONTACT: Eileen Peterson, Executive Director of National Publicity of Paramount Pictures, 213-956-5503/
CO: Parmount Pictures; Nickelodeon Movies; Rastar Productions ST: California IN: ENT SU:
SK-DM -- LAF022 -- 1683 12/08/95 13:25 EST