The First Wives Club: Wikis


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The First Wives Club
Directed by Hugh Wilson
Produced by Scott Rudin
Written by Olivia Goldsmith
Robert Harling
Paul Rudnick
Narrated by Diane Keaton
Starring Goldie Hawn
Diane Keaton
Bette Midler
Elizabeth Berkley
Stockard Channing
Stephen Collins
Victor Garber
Marcia Gay Harden
Eileen Heckart
Dan Hedaya
Sarah Jessica Parker
Bronson Pinchot
Maggie Smith
Music by Marc Shaiman
Cinematography Donald E. Thorin
Editing by John Bloom
Distributed by Paramount Pictures
Release date(s) September 20, 1996
Running time 103 min.
Language English
Budget $30,000,000[1]
Gross revenue $181,490,000[1]

The First Wives Club is a 1996 comedy film, based on the best-selling 1992 novel of the same name by Olivia Goldsmith. Narrated by Diane Keaton, it stars Goldie Hawn, Keaton and Bette Midler as three divorced women who seek revenge on their husbands who left them for younger women. Stephen Collins, Victor Garber and Dan Hedaya co-star as the husbands, and Sarah Jessica Parker, Marcia Gay Harden and Elizabeth Berkley as their lovers, with Maggie Smith and Stockard Channing playing key supporting roles. Scott Rudin produced and Hugh Wilson directed; the film was distributed by Paramount Pictures.[2]

Despite generally negative critical reaction,[3] the film became a surprise box-office hit following its North American release, eventually grossing $181,490,000 worldwide, mostly from its domestic run.[1] Developing a cult following among middle-aged women,[4] the actresses' highest-grossing project of the decade helped revitalize their careers in film and television. Composer Marc Shaiman was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Original Music Score,[2] while Hawn was awarded a Blockbuster Entertainment Award and both Midler and Parker received Satellite Award nominations for their portrayals.[2]



At Middlebury College in 1969, four friends, Elise Elliot (Goldie Hawn), Brenda Cushman (Bette Midler), Annie Paradis (Diane Keaton), and Cynthia Griffin (Stockard Channing), are graduating. As graduation gifts, Cynthia presents the girls with matching pearl necklaces. As the graduates take a commemorative picture of the four of them (presumably for the last time), Cynthia makes the three of them promise that they will always be there for each other throughout the remainder of their lives.

Over a considerable amount of time, the four friends lose touch with one another, as evident when Cynthia is tearfully gazing at the picture of the four of them that graduation day. She gives her maid the pearl necklace that she gave to her friends on graduation day, and she has her mail letters to her college chums. She later walks outside of the balcony of her luxurious penthouse in a floor length fur coat, a cigarette and a drink, and then commits suicide by jumping off the balcony when her husband divorces her for a much younger woman. Her former friends aren’t doing much better: Brenda is divorced, left for a younger woman, depressed, and struggling financially. Elise, also divorced for a younger woman, is now an aging alcoholic movie star who has become a plastic-surgery addict to keep her career afloat. Annie, meanwhile, is separated and going through therapy with her husband. Shortly after the funeral, at which the three remaining friends are reunited for the first time since college, Annie’s husband Aaron (Stephen Collins) leaves her for a younger woman (her therapist) and asks her for a divorce; Brenda has a rather nasty encounter at a store with her ex, Morty (Dan Hedaya) and his younger and rather hateful mistress Shelly (Sarah Jessica Parker), and Elise finds out that her new director wants her for a role as a mother. Feeling that they are being shafted by their husbands, the women start up the First Wives Club, aiming to get revenge on their exes. Annie’s lesbian daughter Chris (Jennifer Dundas) also gets in on the plot by working at her father’s advertising agency so she can supply her mother with information.

Brenda finds out through her uncle Carmine (Philip Bosco) who has Mafia connections that Morty is guilty of income tax fraud, while Annie makes a plan to buy out Aaron’s partners. However, as their plan moves through, things start to fall apart when they find out that Elise’s ex Bill (Victor Garber) has no checkered past and nothing for them to use. Brenda and Elise hurl insults at each other, and the women drift apart. When Annie starts thinking about closing down the First Wives Club, her friends come back, saying that they want to see this to the end… and they now have dirt on Bill: his mistress (Elizabeth Berkley) is a minor.

Deciding that revenge would make them no better than their husbands, they instead use these situations to push their men into funding the establishment of a non-profit organization dedicated to aiding abused women, in memory of Cynthia. The movie ends with a celebration at the new women’s center. Annie narrates that Elise started a relationship with a cast member in her new play, that Brenda and Morty reconciled their differences and got back together, and that when Aaron tried to get back together with her, Annie, she told him to "drop dead.”



The film project originally belonged to Sherry Lansing, who bought the unpublished manuscript of the novel in 1991, after many publishers had rejected it, and handed it over to producer Scott Rudin when she became CEO of Paramount Pictures in 1992.[5] "It was one of the single best ideas for a movie I've ever heard," she said in a 1996 interview with The New York Times. "The situation of a woman getting left for a younger version of herself was far too common. But we didn't want a movie about women as victims. We wanted a movie about empowerment."[5] Rudin consulted Robert Harling to write the screenplay, whose script was reworked by Paul Rudnick when Harling left to direct 1996's The Evening Star, the sequel to the 1983 drama Terms of Endearment. Rudnick, however, felt the final script was "incomprehensible":[6] "To figure out the structure of that movie would require an undiscovered Rosetta Stone," he told The New York Times.[7]


Diane Keaton was the first reported to have landed one of the starring roles, having previously worked with Rudin on the set of Marvin's Room (1996), followed by Bette Midler who had originally auditioned for the "more glamorous role" of Elise.[8] Although Rudin originally intended to cast Jessica Lange in the latter role, the team decided to rewrite the character of the book in favour of a "glitzier" version which eventually went to eleventh-hour addition Goldie Hawn.[2] Actor Mandy Patinkin dropped out shortly before shooting started and was replaced by Stephen Collins when he decided to leave the project in favour of his musical ambitions,[9] while Dan Hedaya won the role of Morty over Hector Elizondo.[10] Elizabeth Berkley only took her part to "work with the best actresses around," and Timothy Olyphant, who had impressed with local stage work, made his screen debut as director Brett Artounian in the film.[10]

Cameos of note include Ivana Trump (who famously stated in the film, "Don't get mad, get everything."), Gloria Steinem and Kathie Lee Gifford as themselves as well as uncredited appearances by Richard Council, author Olivia Goldsmith, Hugh Wilson as a commercial director, and Heather Locklear as the younger lover of James Naughton's character Gil.[11] Additionally, Jon Stewart was hired to play the lover of Goldie Hawn's character Elise; however, he never actually made it to the film. "I played her boyfriend and apparently they felt that that was not inherently part of the storyline and so she broke up with me before the movie started," he joked on Larry King Live in 2006.[12]


Principal photography took place over three months at the Kaufman Astoria Studios in Queens, New York City between December 4, 1995,[13] and March 19, 1996.[14] Among the 60 sites showcased on screen are Christie's auction house, the Bowery Bar, a suite at The Waldorf-Astoria Hotel, the Cafe des Artistes, the King Cole bar at the St. Regis Hotel, Frank E. Campbell's funeral home, and Barney's,[14] as well as the Chrysler Building, the NoHo neighborhood, both the 5th and the 7th Avenue, the Riverside Drive, and the Central Park.[15]

Production designer Peter Larkin took much inspiration from Hollywood's romantic comedies of the 1930s, incorporating a post-Great Depression view on style and luxury, widely popularized through these films. "Those sets looked better than real New York penthouses and nightclubs ever could," he said upon creation. "In this film I wanted settings that had that kind of striking nature."[16]


Major ensemble

  • Diane Keaton as Annie MacDuggan Paradis, the vehicle for the film's sporadic voice-over; an anxious and slightly neurotic housewife, saddled with self-esteem problems, attempting to save her marriage with estranged husband Aaron - much to her lesbian daughter's dismay.
  • Bette Midler as Brenda Morelli Cushman, as a wise-cracking Sicilian/Jewish single mother who helped set her husband Morty on his feet financially, before he left her for the much younger Shelly, cheating her out of an equitable settlement.
  • Goldie Hawn as Elise Elliot Atchison, a former one time Oscar-winning actress, now an alcoholic and heavy smoker relegated to B movies due to her 'unprofitable' age. Her husband, Bill, who left her for another woman, is suing for alimony and insisting that all of their joint assets be sold and the profits divided between them.
  • Stephen Collins as Aaron Paradis, Annie's conflicted husband and CEO of an advertising agency, who leaves his wife for their therapist, Leslie Rosen.
  • Dan Hedaya as Brenda's ex-husband Morton 'Morty' Cushman, an electronics tycoon, who hides his wealth and takes advantage of having his former wife having signed an out-of-court settlement - just to finance his fiancée's preferences.
  • Victor Garber as Bill Atchison, a successful film producer, who rose to fame through Elise's connections and eventually left her in favour of a young starlet.
  • Marcia Gay Harden as Dr. Leslie Rosen, Aaron's short-time affair, who is the therapist for both Annie and Aaron. Leslie has been "helping" Annie with her self-esteem problems.
  • Sarah Jessica Parker as Shelly Stewart, Morty's dim-witted but manipulative fiancée.
  • Elizabeth Berkley as Phoebe LaVelle, an up-and-coming actress, living with Bill. Elise discovers that she is sixteen years old.
  • Stockard Channing as Cynthia Swann Griffin, a college friend of the three main protagonists, who commits suicide after her husband, Gil, betrays and eventually divorces her.
  • Maggie Smith as Gunilla Garson Goldberg, a wealthy New York society leader, also a first wife.
  • Bronson Pinchot as Duarto Felice, Brenda's boss and (according to Annie) "one of the ten worst interior decorators in New York."
  • Jennifer Dundas as Chris Paradis, Annie's lesbian and feminist daughter.
  • Eileen Heckart as Catherine MacDuggan, Annie's 'controlling' mother.
  • Ari Greenberg as Jason Cushman, Brenda's son.
  • Philip Bosco as Uncle Carmine Morelli, Brenda's paternal uncle and part of her family's Italian mafia connections.

Box office

The film opened at the #1 spot at the North American box office making $18.9 million in its opening weekend, the film stayed at the top spot for three consecutive weeks.

Sequel and stage adaptation


For years there have been rumors of a sequel of the film.[17] Although columnists Stacy Jenel Smith and Marilyn Beck reported in a 2002 article that producer Scott Rudin would refuse to work on a sequel, the actresses have made various statements to the contrary. In a Chicago Sun-Times interview in 2003, Keaton expressed her readiness to appear in a second film.[18] A year later, writer Paul Rudnick reportedly started writing a draft,[17] entitled Avon Ladies of the Amazon,[19] and in 2005, Midler confirmed to USAToday that there was indeed a manuscript but that "the strike kept it from happening."[20] However, as Hawn declared in a 2006 interview with New York Daily News, Paramount Pictures declined the trio's services due to their demand of an increase in fees: "I got a call from the head of the studio, who said, 'Let's try to make it work. But I think we should all do it for the same amount of money.' Now, if there were three men that came back to do a sequel, they would have paid them three times their salary at least."[21]

On stage

A musical stage version of the film, The First Wives Club – The Musical, opened at The Old Globe in San Diego on July 17, 2009, in previews, through August 23, 2009, [22]prior to a projected Broadway engagement. The book is by Rupert Holmes, with a score by the "one-time only reunited" Holland-Dozier-Holland songwriting team from 1960s Motown soul music fame. Francesca Zambello is directing. [23] [24]The creators and Zambello were engaged for the project in 2006. [25]An industry reading of the musical was held in February 2009, with principals Ana Gasteyer, Carolee Carmello and Adriane Lenox. [26]

The principal cast originally included Karen Ziemba as Annie, Adriane Lenox as Elyse, Barbara Walsh as Brenda, John Dossett as Aaron, Kevyn Morrow as Bill, Brad Oscar as Morty, Sara Chase as Trophy Wife, and Sam Harris as Duane. The choreographer is Lisa Stevens, with scenic design by Peter J. Davison, and costume design by Paul Tazewell. [27] On June 16, 2009, Lenox dropped out of the production due to health concerns and was replaced by Sheryl Lee Ralph.[28][29] The production's tryout received mixed to unenthusiastic reviews.[30]

On November 11, 2009 it was announced that Francesca Zambello dropped out as director of the musical and that the producers will look for a new creative team.[31]

Awards and nominations




  1. ^ a b c The First Wives Club - Box Office Data, Movie News, Cast Information - The Numbers
  2. ^ a b c d "Awards for The First Wives Club (1996)". IMDb. Retrieved 2009-08-14. 
  3. ^ "The First Wives Club (1996)". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved 2009-08-14. 
  4. ^ Elizabeth Gleick. "Hell Hath No Fury" TIME magazine. Retrieved on 1996-10-07.
  5. ^ a b Appeal of a Woman's Revenge - New York Times
  6. ^ ZA@PLAY - FILM: Men behaving coyly 19/02/98
  7. ^ AT HOME WITH: Paul Rudnick; You Want Gay Role Models? How About a Joke First - New York Times
  8. ^ McLeod, Pauline (1996-11-03). "My First For Renvenge; Berre Midler Knows Exactly Hoe To Get". Sunday Mirror. FindArticles. Retrieved 2009-08-16. 
  9. ^ Michael, Dennis (1995-12-02). "The Hollywood Minute". CNN. Retrieved 2009-08-16. 
  10. ^ a b Archerd, Army (1995-11-05). "Only dirt in Carradine autobio is on him". Variety. Retrieved 2009-08-16. 
  11. ^ The First Wives Club (1996)
  12. ^ Jon Stewart - Oscars Host Stewart Axed From First Wives Club
  13. ^ 'The First Wives Club' Starts Production In New York City; Film Stars Bette Midler, Goldie Hawn And Diane Keaton - Pr Newswire - Highbeam Research
  14. ^ a b FILM;A Sisterhood On Camera and Off - New York Times
  15. ^ The First Wives Club
  16. ^ - Search old newspaper articles online
  17. ^ a b First Wives Club To Reform
  18. ^ [1]
  20. ^
  21. ^ Goldie Hawn Is Tired Of Hollywood's Sexism - Starpulse Entertainment News Blog
  22. ^ Jones, Kenneth.Musical First Wives Club Will Now Convene July 17 Toward July 31,June 1, 2009
  23. ^ Hebert, James. "Globe to be first to stage musical First Wives Club", The San Diego Union-Tribune, September 5, 2008
  24. ^ Jones, Kenneth."First Wives Club Musical Will Premiere in San Diego in 2009; Zambello Directs",, September 5, 2008
  25. ^ Simonson, Robert."Rupert Holmes to Pen Book for First Wives Club Musical",, May 26, 2006
  26. ^ Jones, Kenneth. "Lenox, Carmello, Gasteyer, Oscar, Dossett, Harris and More Sing First Wives Club in NYC",, January 27, 2009
  27. ^ Gans, Andrew."Ziemba, Lenox and Walsh to Star in Old Globe's First Wives Club",, May 15, 2009
  28. ^ "Tell Us, Miss Jones: Sheryl Lee Ralph Will Be Part of First Wives Club",, June 16, 2009
  29. ^ Jones, Kenneth. First Wives Club – The Musical Convenes July 17 at Old,July 17, 2009
  30. ^ Critics have issues with 'First Wives' August 3, 2009
  31. ^ Zambello Bows Out as Director of The First Wives Club Musical

External links


Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikiquote

The First Wives Club is a 1996 film about three divorced wives who get even with their ex-husbands.

Directed by Hugh Wilson. Written by Olivia Goldsmith, Robert Harling and Paul Rudnick
Don't get mad. Get everything! (taglines)



  • Wake up, Morty! Time to smell the audit!
  • Don't shame me in the synagogue.
  • [to Elise] I'm saying this to you with love, compassion, and the spirit of true sisterhood - you are full of shit!


  • Fill 'em up!


  • Guess what, dad? I'm a lesbian. A big one.


Chris:You're a doormat.
Annie:Why are you so crabby today honey, is it school? I know what it is; it's a boy.
Chris:I'm a lesbian mom. I'm a lesbian, but that's not the point.
Annie:Well sweetie, when you say lesbian...
Chris:And don't tell daddy, I want to tell him myself when the time is right. Like Father's day or Christmas morning.
Catherine:Annie? Thank God you're all right. Where were you? Who saw you?
Annie:Who saw me what?
Chris:She was sleeping with daddy.
Catherine:Oh muffin dear you've come to your senses i'm so happy.
Annie:Mother, i am not sleeping with Aaron. He's just having some problems with his partners. He's feeling very conflicted and he needed somebody to talk to.

(Elise to her plastic surgeaon)
Elise:Do it Morris, do it to me now, I need it. You're the only one who does it the way I like it. You're the king.
Morris:Elise, if I give you any more collagen you're lips are going to look like they got stuck in a pool drain

Morris:You're 45! If I give you one more facelift you're going to be able to blink your lips. I mean don't you want to be able to play a part your own age?
Elise:My own age? No no. You don't understand. There are only three ages for women in Hollywood. Babe, District Attorney, and Driving Ms Daisy. And right now, I want to be young, science-fiction young

Brenda:OK Elise, the time has come, spill. Those lips, what's in 'em. Are they wax?
Elise:Excuse me?
Brenda:What else did you have done? Come on Elise you can tell me. The cheek one, the jaw line. Did you have a little bit, or the full enchilada!
Elise:I work out every day. I watch my diet. I have not had plastic surgery.
Annie:Well good for you, you look terrific.
Brenda:Oh come on. Elise your lying through your caps.
Elise:Ok. All right, I have been freshened up a little.
Annie:(Puts down wine glass) Oh god, does it hurt.
Elise:(drinking) Mmmm, no.
Brenda:What do they do with the stuff they take off? Do you get to keep it?
Elise:Oh come on Brenda, it's the nineties for god's sake. (Picks up cigarette and lights it) I mean it's like... Plastic surgery is like good grooming, it's like brushing your teeth.

Aaron:I want a divorce
Annie:(shocked) BUT WE JUST MADE LOVE. I mean you asked me out. (Starts crying)
Aaron:I asked you out to tell you, you know one last time, a goodbye kiss.
Annie:But this wasn't just a kiss.
Aaron:Annie don't be childish, you know how you manipulate me.
Annie:What, manipulate, i.. i..(Realises what's going on). Oh my god, is there someone else.
Aaron:Of course not this is abot us,... wel it's really about you...
(Dr. Leslie Rosen enters through front door)
All three stare at each other
LeslieOh my god.
Annie:Oh my god!
Aaron:Oh my god...
Leslie:This is very awkward
Aaron:No, no, Annie was just leaving
Leslie:You told her?
Aaron:I was totally upfront
Annie:What? Excuse me.
Leslie:Annie, this is rough, I know that-
Annie:ROUGH! Wait a minute, I don't understand. You are my therapist...
Leslie:I'm a woman
Annie:...he is my husband, oh.
Aaron:Annie, we've been separated for months. Now let's not over-dramatise.
Leslie:Aaron, she's aloud to be angry. Annie, let's use this; he's found somone new; you're free; closure.
Annie:I am sorry, but that is not what this is, no.
Leslie:Annie no, Annie you're not helping s out here, now i am sorry...

Elise: You wouldn't understand, you're civilians!
Brenda: (infuriated) I understand. (she grabs the bottle from Elise)
Elise: Hey... give that back...
Brenda: I'm saying this to you with love, compassion and the spirit of true sisterhood: you are full of SHIT!
Elise: What?
Brenda: (pouring the alcohol down the sink) So okay, alimony sucks! Okay, you didn't get to play a policewoman in a Wonder bra! But look at you! You grew up gorgeous, and thanks to Cher's pioneering efforts, you still haven't hit puberty! And once upon a time, you were a great actress, you've even got an Oscar to prove it! You've spent your whole life with people sucking up to you, but I'm sure Annie will agree with me when I say your perception of life is somewhat altered!

Elise: You've got some nerve! I drink because I am a sensitive and highly strung person!
Brenda: No, that's why your co-stars drink!
Elise: I am not a DRUNK!
Brenda: Oh really? Let's examine the evidence! Look! All bottles! And gallon jars!
Elise: I had GUESTS.
Brenda: Who, Guns and Roses?!

Elise: You didn't invite me to your son's bar mitzvah!
Brenda: You wouldn't have come!
Annie: Yeah, it was in Hebrew...
Brenda: Oh, SHUT UP!

Elise: You think just because I'm a movie star, I don't have feelings, well, you're wrong! I do have feelings! I'm an actress! I have ALL of them!
Brenda: (putting on a meek voice) Well, I wouldn't understand. You see I'm just a poor little housewife, in a little apron, with a little child to raise!
Elise: Yeah, well, you were always jealous of me, even in college, because I was blonde and beautiful and talented, and I could have any guy I wanted!
Annie: (faintly in the background) Um, you guys...
Brenda: And did! Every guy! Most of the senior class and half the faculty!
Elise: Well! It was the Sixties!
Brenda: (scornful) Look at this place! Is this where your fanclub meets? Do you have ritual sacrifices?!
Elise: Put that down! Put that down! I won that!
Brenda: I remember! Your first talkie!
Elise: Yeah, what did you ever win? A pie eating contest? Best Suggestion?! (she screams as Brenda throws the statuette) Oh no... Brenda, this is a Golden Globe! It's sacred!

Elise: Ivana? I wanna thank you for coming so much, you're an angel!
Ivana Trump: Oh, of course.
Annie: Thank you so much, again.
Ivana: Ladies, you have to be strong and independent. And remember...
Elise: What?
Ivana: Don't get mad... get everything.

Wives: [singing] You don't own me... don't try to change me in any way. You don't own me... don't tie me down cause I'll never stay!


Diane Keaton - Annie Paradis
Bette Midler - Brenda Cushman
Goldie Hawn - Elise Elliot
Stephen Collins - Aaron Paradis
Dan Hedaya - Morton Cushman
Victor Garber - Bill Atchison
Marcia Gay Harden - Dr. Leslie Rosen
Sarah Jessica Parker - Shelly Stewart
Elizabeth Berkley - Phoebe LaVelle
Stockard Channing - Cynthia Swann Griffin
Maggie Smith - Gunilla Garson Goldberg
Bronson Pinchot - Duarto Felice
Ari Greenberg - Jason Cushman
Jennifer Dundas - Chris Paradis
Eileen Heckart - Catherine MacDuggan
Philip Bosco - Uncle Carmine Morelli

External links

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