Taking the long route ‘Uptown’

Producer Stevens started project in 1996

“Uptown Girls” weathered a perilous journey from its humble birth to Monday’s splashy Cinerama Dome premiere.

“I first read the script in the ’60s,” producer Fisher Stevens joked before the film unspooled. “We were hoping to get Shirley MacLaine.”

At the Sunset Room after-party, Stevens said he’d actually started the project in 1996, then ran into resistance to his helming (“No one would finance”) and a competing movie with a similar plot (“The same story but set in the Hamptons — that freaked me out”). Trickiest of all was an attempt to insert a strong sexual undertone into the plot.

“It was hard to balance because we had an 8-year-old girl in it,” he said.

“We learned that you can’t make material do what it’s not built to do,” said producer John Penotti.

Producer Allison Jacobs, who came up with the story idea back when she was GreeneStreet Films’ receptionist, was philosophical about the process. “It’s the movie business,” she said. “You put something out there and you have to pray. They won’t listen. There are too many hands in the kitchen. But the process is fascinating.”

Among those seeing the finished product were MGM’s Chris McGurk, Michael Nathanson, Peter Adee and Erik Lomis; director Boaz Yakin; stars Brittany Murphy, Dakota Fanning and Heather Locklear; plus guests including Brett Ratner, Jim Gianopulos, Tom Sherak, Ed McMahon, Samantha Daniels, Rain Pryor, Ron Livingston and Eric Idle.