Diane English, 'The Women' receive the WIF Crystal Award for excellence in film


Lots of people complain about the dearth of quality roles for women in Hollywood.

Writer-director-producer Diane English, creator of TV's indomitable "Murphy Brown," has dedicated her career to doing something about it.

English's latest project, a remake of George Cukor's 1939 classic "The Women" from

Picturehouse, has taken more than a decade to reach fruition. "I was advised by people I have the utmost respect for to walk away," English says of the film. "Ironically, in 1939, (the all-female cast) was not an issue. The movie was made, and it was a smash. But in the year 2008, it is a huge issue."

Filling out that cast was one of English's biggest challenges. The first-time director attached a seemingly never-ending stream of actresses as preproduction stretched for 13 years. A few, like Eva Mendes, Annette Bening, Jada Pinkett Smith and Carrie Fisher, have been on board for multiple years. Some, like Meg Ryan, since the beginning of the project.

Debra Messing, who plays the film's "supermom," Edie Cohen, found English's approach to the film refreshing. No matter their career or relationship choices, Messing says, "all of the women in the film are shown as legitimate. No one is judged in the writing."

Now, English and company hope that female filmgoers who feel underserved by traditional Hollywood fare will support the film when it's released later this year. "Women need to reach into their purses and vote with their wallets," she says. "Money talks, and Hollywood listens. That's the only way things will change."