Entertainment Weekly - November 30, 2000
by William Keck
PRETTY KITTIES Reid, Cook, and Dawson toe the feline for "Josie"
Behind the scenes with the new "Josie and the Pussycats" -- EW.com talks to Tara Reid and Rachael Leigh Cook about some near "cat"- astrophes
"Josie and the Pussycats, long tails, ears for hats..." So went the catchy theme to the '70's cartoon girl band series, which Universal is making into a live action feature film set for an April release. EW.com spoke to the three Pussycats -- Rachael Leigh Cook (Josie), Tara Reid (Melody), and Rosario Dawson (Val) -- as well as the film's villain, Alan Cumming, to get the inside scoop on the making of the film.
Although the movie begins in Riverdale (home to Archie, Jughead, and their gang), don't expect to see Betty and Veronica competing for Pussycat concert tickets. The original comic was an "Archies" spinoff, but the movie won't be mentioning the Riverdale High gang. "I was hoping we would explore that," admits 21 year old Dawson, the sole Pussycat who's actually a fan of the '70s cartoon. "But we're not in Riverdale long enough to see these characters. Maybe if we do a sequel...we could run into them in space." (A fan would know Dawson's making an esoteric reference to the Pussycats' animated follow up series, "Josie and the Pussycats in Outer Space.")
Remaining true to the comic and the cartoon, the Pussycat band is managed by rich kid Alexander Cabot III, played by newcomer Paulo Costanzo, while ingenue Missy Pyle portrays Alex's temperamental (read: bitchy) sis, Alexandra. To Dawson's disappointment, though, Alexandra's mischievous laughing cat Sebastian failed to make the cut.
But there ARE two nefarious new villains: Fiona, a record label exec played by Parker Posey (Party Girl), and Fiona's lackey, Wyatt (Cumming), who opens the film by murdering the fictional boy band Du Jour (featuring cameos by Austin Powers' Seth Green and Road Trip's Breckin Meyer). "I eject from an airplane and then they all crash," says Cumming. In desperate need of a new act for his label, Wyatt sets his eyes on the Pussycats. Yikes! Does this mean our kitties are in danger? "Only if they misbehave," says Cumming. "You see, the boy band was misbehaving, that's why I had to kill them. They started asking too many questions."
Naturally, the Pussycats become overnight superstars. "In a way, it's a satire of how we become so ridiculously huge so quickly," explains Dawson. But don't expect the Pussycats' sound to resemble the assembly line pop of some current teen favorites: "The songs written for us (including "Three Small Words," "Pretend To Be Nice," and "Spin Around") are kind of like a female Blink 182 -- a real fast paced rock/ pop," says 21 year old Cook (She's All That). Counting Crows frontman Adam Duritz also contributes to the soundtrack, and producer Babyface is negotiating to sign an established band to record a cover of the famous theme song.
As none of the actresses are musically inclined, their singing voices will not be heard. Even so, they were all shipped off to band camp to learn how to "air play" their instruments convincingly. Cook admits her time at Camp Pussycat was no picnic. "I m not going to lie to you; it was not a good experience," she says. "It's extremely frustrating to try to learn how to play the guitar in a very short amount of time. We had to perform the same three songs -- as if we were on stage in front of 7,000 people -- again and again for six hours straight."
Reid, as an alum of the 1999 smash American Pie, had an additional cross to bear. Remember "Pie's" infamous line: "One time, in band camp, I stuck a flute up my -----"? Reid's costars do, too, and they teased the actress unmercifully -- even though it was "Buffy the Vampire Slayer's Alyson Hannigan, not Reid, who portrayed that movie's randy band geek. "At first it was relentless," admits Reid, 24, whose airhead character plays the drums, not the flute. "They were saying, 'How funny is it for you to be at band camp?' But it wasn't that kind of band camp. It was actually pretty intense. More like work than fun."
Another sacrifice the actresses had to make involved visits to the salon to make their locks look more like their cartoon alter egos. "I have straight hair, but I went in and had it permed into a kinked out 'fro," says Dawson. Cook went "flame 'Run, Lola, Run' red," while Reid added "wild" extensions. "I look like Animal from 'The Muppets,'" jokes Reid, who's grateful she doesn't have to don the classic leopard leotards. "In the cartoon, they were more like bimbos wearing tight underpants, but we don't do that. We wear real clothes, then once we make it, we get a little more glamorized. But no spandex." Cook concurs with the anti- catsuit view: "The beauty of this is that we're bringing this to a completely new audience," she says. "Die hard fans of the original might be happy to see us in 100 percent spandex, but everyone else would find that a little bit too freakish."
But what of those long tails and ears for hats? "We have ears and tails," assures Cook. "The worst part is tripping on each other's tails. I've actually stepped on Tara's tail, then she'll trip and fall into Rosario. It's a complete disaster. All for the sake of art." Good thing felines have nine lives.
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