My Little Girl
Screenplay by Connie Kaiserman and Nan Knighton (credited as Nan Mason) | Directed by Connie Kaiserman
Produced by Black Swan Productions in association with Merchant Ivory Productions
About the Film
Nan co-wrote the screenplay for My Little Girl, a film that came out in 1987. Though it has not received a lot of attention, the movie has a touching story and an impressive cast.
Franny Bettinger (Mary Stuart Masterson), an affluent 16-year-old from Philadelphia, volunteers in a city shelter for children who are wards of the state. Full of idealism and the commitment to make a difference in the lives of these disadvantaged girls, Franny is met with suspicion, coldness and even hostility. Decidedly in foreign social territory, she decides to persist despite the objections of her parents, the home's director (James Earl Jones) and the girls themselves. Only Franny's grandmother (Geraldine Page) offers support and guidance during Franny's struggle for independence.
When Franny feels she is finally making progress, she organizes a talent show as a vehicle to break through the girls' hardened exteriors. Just as preparations are enthusiastically underway, one of the girls is unexpectedly transferred to a brutal rural center. Taking matters into her own hands, Franny embarks on a rescue mission which leaves her stranded, miles from anywhere. Her impetuous actions get her fired, but not before she oversees talent night, which the girls eagerly anticipate.
Talent night is a great success, inspiring confidence in the girls and satisfaction in Franny. As she leaves the center, Franny realizes her life has been changed forever by her contact with a new and different world.
Additional details at IMBD.
Mary Stuart Masterson plays Franny Bettinger. She has also played the memorable roles of Watts in Some Kind Of Wonderful, Idgie Threadgoode in Fried Green Tomatoes and Joon in Benny & Joon. She made her Broadway debut in 2003 as Luisa in the Roundabout Theatre Company's revival of Nine.
James Earl Jones plays Ike Bailey, the director of the children's home. He has appeared in many films and television shows over his career, and is well known for his distinctive voice - heard as Darth Vader in Star Wars and Mufasa in The Lion King. He has also appeared frequently on stage, winning Tony Awards for The Great White Hope and August Wilson's Fences.
Geraldine Page plays Molly, Franny's grandmother, and My Little Girl was her final film. Called The First Lady of the American Theater, she played numerous roles on and off-Broadway, including Alma Winemiller in an acclaimed production of Tennessee Williams' Summer and Smoke both Off-Broadway and on film. After becoming the first woman to receive 7 Oscar nominations without winning, her eighth nomination led to a win, for The Trip To Bountiful.
Anne Meara plays Mrs. Shopper, a social worker at the children's home. She often appeared with her husband, Jerry Stiller, as "Stiller & Meara" on The Ed Sullivan Show and The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson. She is also known as Peggy Moody on "All My Children."
Traci Lind (credited as Traci Lin) plays Alice, and co-wrote the song that her character sings in the movie. Her other film credits include My Boyfriend's Back and The End of Violence.
Peter Gallagher plays Kai, Alice's boyfriend. He has performed on Broadway in Guys & Dolls and Long Day's Journey Into Night, and appeared in films such as American Beauty and on the television show "The O.C."
Pamela Payton-Wright plays Delly, Franny's mother. She has been seen on television as Agatha 'Addie' Cramer on "One Life To Live" and as Hazel Parker on "Another World." She has also appeared on stage, winning a Drama Desk award for Mourning Becomes Electra.
Peter Michael Goetz plays Norman, Franny's father. He has also appeared in Father of the Bride and its sequel, Glory and The Karen Carpenter Story.
Jennifer Lopez - yes, the Jennifer Lopez, who has become famous as a singer, actress and designer - made her film debut in My Little Girl in the small part of Myra. Hit songs from her career include "If You Had My Love," "Love Don't Cost A Thing" and "Jenny From the Block," and her film credits include Selena, The Cell and The Wedding Planner.
Allen Fitzpatrick plays a Reporter and a Policeman, also small roles. Among his other credits, he originated the role of Farleigh in The Scarlet Pimpernel on Broadway.