Glorifying Jersey

A noted Hollywood screenwriter uses her Jersey roots to help inform her storytelling.

Courtesy of Paramount Pictures/Macall Polay.
From left, screenwriter Aline Brosh McKenna, executive producer Sherryl Clark, and producer Bryan Burk on the set of Paramount Pictures’s Morning Glory. Above from left, the film’s stars Rachel McAdams, Diane Keaton and Harrison Ford.
Courtesy of Paramount Pictures/Macall Polay.

In the opening scene of Morning Glory, a romantic comedy starring Rachel McAdams, Harrison Ford and Diane Keaton, McAdams’s character mentions her New Jersey roots and alludes to Matthew’s Diner in Waldwick. That’s no surprise. Her dialog is provided by screenwriter Aline Brosh McKenna (27 Dresses, The Devil Wears Prada), a self-proclaimed “Jersey kid.”

“It’s definitely part of who I am,” says the Los Angeles-based scribe, who was born in France and moved with her family to Fort Lee when she was 6 months old. The family later moved to Demarest and then Montvale, where she lived from age seven until college. Brosh McKenna, now 43, attended Saddle River Day School, studied literature at Harvard and, after graduation, co-wrote A Co-Ed’s Companion with her college roommate.
Brosh McKenna’s fond memories of New Jersey include the malls and the roller rinks. Plus, she says, being so close to Manhattan “was a powerful force for all us Jersey kids.”

This powerful force helps drive the McAdams character, who yearns to make her mark in the world despite being underestimated and misunderstood. “People see her and she’s young and from Jersey and she doesn’t have the pedigree, so people make assumptions about her,” Brosh McKenna says. “A lot of what she’s doing is to prove people wrong and make her way.”

Unlike that character, Brosh McKenna no longer needs to prove her writing prowess. Upcoming films include We Bought a Zoo starring Matt Damon and Scarlett Johansson, a live action Cinderella for Disney, a project for producer J.J. Abrams and a film starring Sarah Jessica Parker. Still, Brosh McKenna never outgrows her Jersey roots. “I miss the diners, definitely. And I can still do the accent!”

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