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NEW YORK — Being single and a grown-up in Los Angeles may be the most non-winning combination since red wine and beige carpet, but producer Christine Peters has made the most of it. Divorced from famed producer Jon Peters, with whom she has two daughters, she’s turned the ups and downs of her love life into the new movie “How to Lose a Guy in Ten Days” starring Kate Hudson and Matthew McConaughey.
“It was Valentine’s Day in 1998,” recalls Peters, in New York for the film’s premiere. “I was in the middle of breaking up with someone. He was pulling the same old, same old — ‘I’m going to change!’ Bad behavior — the usual stuff.” As president of the Robert Evans Company at Paramount, she was in New York to shop for books from literary agents that could be made into films. At the bottom of one agent’s list: a manuscript, just a joke at the time, called “How to Lose a Guy in Ten Days.”
“I saw it as a movie, given my own romantic situation,” says Peters, “and I bought it on the spot.”
Hudson plays a women’s magazine columnist writing on the relationship mistakes women make, packing them all in to just 10 days. Any typical male would run for the hills, unless he’s McConaughey’s character, an advertising executive who’s bet his boss that he can make a woman fall in love with him in 10 days. Veteran romantic comedy producer Lynda Obst (“Sleepless in Seattle”) came on board to produce with Peters.
Peters, whose last film with Evans was “The Out-of-Towners,” learned about romantic comedy the hard way. “It looks the easiest, but it’s actually the hardest,” she says. “Creating that snappy dialogue and adorable characters is like constructing a high rise. It’s all about building and layering and reworking.”
Elements of her own personality are evident in Hudson’s Andie Anderson: Peters worked as a journalist (a West Coast editor at Talk); she’s a brainy blonde; a fashionista, and she’s a single woman in a man’s world. “I guess I do have lots of alpha male friends,” says Peters, who counts Ron Galotti and plenty of film execs among her inner circle, with megamogul Sumner Redstone as a longtime (now ex-) boyfriend and mentor.
She also knows something about love. She was the one who fixed up Barbra Streisand (another Jon Peters ex) with current husband, James Brolin, at a dinner party held at Peters’ home expressly for that purpose. “I hope I know something of the man-woman game,” Peters smiles. And if there’s one lesson she’s learned, it’s that playing the brainy blonde in real life is one tough role. “I do believe smart women are always having to convince men we don’t know as much as we do. We all have to dumb it down a notch. If,” she pauses, “you’re really smart.”