Few people who see a self-help book think to themselves, “Gee, that would make a terrific movie!” but when producer Will Packer (Stomp the Yard, Obsessed) noticed Steve Harvey’s book Act Like a Lady, Think Like a Man in women’s hands, his filmmaker’s curiosity was piqued. “Everywhere I went I would see women with this book and it intrigued me, so I had to find out about it. I read the book,” says Packer. “I didn’t know Steve was giving away all the secrets. After my initial reaction of ‘Steve, what are you doing?’ I thought that this would make a really good movie.”
It was important to Packer — as it would be to almost any producer taking on a major theatrical film — that the audience for the film extends well beyond the book’s readership. And for Packer, that meant having clear input from Harvey on the project. “Steve was instrumental in the creative process because it’s his voice, so he wanted to make sure that it was something that wasn’t limited to any particular audience — any particular niche or any particular segment of people,” Packer says.
But the biggest problem that the filmmakers faced at the outset was how to translate a non-narrative book to the screen and keep it entertaining. For Harvey, it was important that however they approached the film’s story, it should stay true to the mission of the original text. “My work was good and it was meant to empower women,” says Harvey. “That was rule No. 1: Do not take this book and make a mockery of it.”
In the end, the screenwriters — Keith Merryman and David A. Newman — decided that hanging the plot on a group of men might afford the best opportunity to stay true to the book and keep things comedic. “It was great to have both sides,” says Newman. “Having it centered on the guys means you get to play out the theories and theorems of the book.” Merryman agrees that they succeeded with their treatment of the material. “In a weird way, the book is supposed to give you insight into the male psyche and in a weird way, the movie does too, because of the posse of guys.”
Think Like a Man is available starting Aug. 28 on Video On Demand. Check your cable system for availability.
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