NEW YORK — Allison Jacobs wants to make it clear — she’s a storyteller, not a writer. “There are enough writers with no stories,” she says over lunch at Westville, her favorite West Village spot. “I have all the stories, and I need the writers.”
In fact, once Jacobs gets rolling, it’s hard to stop her bubbling stream of anecdotes, one of which — about a party girl forced to grow up — was turned into “Uptown Girls,” an August release with mounting buzz.
This story first appeared in the July 28, 2003 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
In what can only be described as a Hollywood dream come true, Jacobs, now 31, was an assistant at the production company GreeneStreet Films when she had an idea for a script. “I was pitching to my friend and he was like, ‘If you pitch this to me one more time on my answering machine, I’m going to change my number,’” she says. No one took her seriously, including her then-boyfriend, “Tadpole” director-producer Gary Winick.
But before selling her boss Fisher Stevens on the idea, and developing a first draft with a screenwriter, Jacobs had tried it all — from working at a bakery to studying acting at the Royal Academy, hostessing at Jo Jo to serving as a phone operator at the Mercer Hotel, and from babysitting to toiling as a receptionist at five different companies, one of which was Stevens’ and John Penotti’s GreeneStreet Films.
Five years and many rewrites later, Jacobs, who receives “story by” and co-producer credits in the movie, will finally see her tale on the screen. Brittany Murphy plays Molly Gunn, a hard-partying rock star’s daughter whose inherited fortune is wiped out by a swindling accountant. Faced with the task of earning a living, she lands a job as a nanny for the eight-year-old germ-phobic daughter of a music executive, who is played by Heather Locklear.
Of course, Jacobs’ own babysitting experience provided plenty of inspiration. And dressed in a shredded T-shirt, Alaïa jeans skirt and carrying a Louis Vuitton bag, it’s easy to see how her individual style influenced the movie’s costumes. In the first scene, Murphy rushes past in a sparkly, sexy party dress with a lamp-shade on her head. “I actually like to wear jeans to black-tie things and dresses during the day,” says Jacobs. Though Jacobs visited the set only occasionally, she took a personal interest in the costumes, bringing costume designer Sarah Edwards items from her own closet.
Like Murphy’s character, Jacobs, whose best friend is Zoë Cassavetes, is a true social butterfly. She even got fired from the Mercer for fraternizing. “I knew all the people who checked in,” she says, adding that when friends invited her up to their rooms away she would go. “I didn’t want to upset the guests.”
For her next move, Jacobs is contemplating a trip to acupuncture school and has stocked up enough stories to spin not only more movies, but books for children as well as adults and a TV show. “That’s what this movie’s about,” she says. “Just because you have a personality or spirit doesn’t mean you’re stupid or you can’t do anything. Just because I wear a ripped T-shirt, doesn’t mean I don’t have good ideas.”