‘Legally Blonde’ Oral History: From Raunchy Script to Feminist Classic…

Here at TVWriter™ we’re not afraid to say that one-half of the writing team that labored over this cultural revolution of a screenplay was one of Larry Brody’s first students way back when he was teaching TV and film writing at The College of Santa Fe, in Santa Fe, NM.

In fact, we’re proud to point that out. Wonder why the NYTimes, where this article first appeared last week, left that intriguing factoid out. Oh well.

Hi, Karen McCullah! Good job! Whatcha up to these days? (That’s a joke, people. Check out Karen’s career HERE.)

That’s Karen in the middle, with Reese Witherspoon on our left & Selma Blair on our right.

In 2001, Reese Witherspoon was already on her way to becoming a household name. But it would be the feminist masterpiece “Legally Blonde” that would cement her status as a Hollywood star.

Adapted from the novel of the same name by Amanda Brown, “Legally Blonde” follows Elle Woods (Witherspoon) from ditsy, sorority socialite to first-year law student in an effort to win back her ex-boyfriend Warner (Matthew Davis). But what transpires next surprises everyone, including herself: The perky blonde with a tiny Chihuahua named Bruiser and a flair for pink discovers she is actually cut out for the courtroom.

It’s been 20 years since Elle, against all odds, got into Harvard Law, fended off a professor’s advances and came to the legal defense of a sorority alumna. She remains an emblem for challenging stereotypes and embracing female empowerment in the face of misogyny. By refuting the “dumb blonde” trope, Elle has become beloved for her sincerity and her insistence on unapologetically being herself.

In 2021, “Legally Blonde” is more relevant than ever. Years before the #MeToo and Time’s Up movements, the Robert Luketic-directed comedy tackled workplace sexual misconduct and power dynamics. High-profile fans like Ariana Grande and Kim Kardashian (who each paid homage to it in videos) have stoked its legacy, as has a 2003 sequel (and a third movie due next year), as well as a Broadway adaptation.

In advance of the July 13 anniversary of its release, I recently spoke with the film’s stars (including Jennifer Coolidge, Jessica Cauffiel and Matthew Davis), screenwriters and others about creating the “bend and snap,” Elle’s Harvard video essay and the movie’s enduring legacy. Here are edited excerpts from our conversations….

Read it all at nytimes.com

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