Comedy Impact Report 2010: Bigscreen Bigshots

W hen director Garry Marshall first read the script for the ensemble romantic comedy “Valentine’s Day,” he knew it could be a hit. “There’s a built-in conflict there because girls look forward to it and boys dread it,” says the director, an industry veteran who got his start writing for “The Tonight Show” under Jack Paar in the ’50s.

Marshall has since worked with everyone from Julia Roberts (“Pretty Woman”) to Anne Hathaway (“The Princess Diaries”). Though A-listers relish working on Marshall’s loose, low-drama sets, “Valentine’s Day” — which grossed $217 million worldwide — called for many of them at once. “It was such a complicated picture with so many stars, they didn’t think I could get it done by Valentine’s Day, but I’m from television, and we get it done,” Marshall says. “I remember the studio said, ‘We’ve got Taylor Swift and Taylor Lautner,’ and I said, ‘How wonderful. Where in the script might they be working? I have it in front of me and I don’t see them.’ So we came up with a scene for them and it worked so good that we shot a couple of extra scenes.”

Next up for Marshall is “New Year’s Eve,” a follow-up to “Valentine’s Day” that’s slated for 2011. “I am now the official holiday director,” he says. “After New Year’s, I’ll do some Jewish holidays, maybe Arbor Day. That could be a riot.”

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