'My Girl' writer is a 27-year-old with Maryland roots

December 02, 1991|By Lou Cedrone | Lou Cedrone,Evening Sun Staff

So how does it feel, at the age of 27, to have your very first screenplay turned into a movie?

''It feels great,'' said Laurice Elehwany, who spent her teen years living in Oxford on the Eastern Shore and now resides in California. ''I finished the script in June of last year and sold it one month later. I've been told that my first sale was quick, that finishing it in one month and selling it the next is unusual,'' she said.

Rare is the better word. Originally called "Born Jaundiced," that script now provides the story line for ''My Girl,'' which stars Anna Chlumsky as a precocious 11-year-old whose widowed father is an undertaker. Her closest friend is played by Macaulay Culkin of ''Home Alone'' fame.

''It was originally much darker than it became,'' she said. ''In the original script, the secondary character was the young girl's older sister who hid in the basement and never came out.''

That didn't work, so Elehwany changed the girl to a boy, a younger boy who dies when he is stung by a swarm of bees.

''Some people are upset by the fact that the character, played by Macaulay, dies in the film,'' she said. ". . . Well, he's an actor. He played a child who died in 'Jacob's Ladder,' but no one said anything about that.''

She said the idea for the film's setting, a funeral home, came from her memories of life in Hanover, Pa., where her family lived before moving to Oxford. ''. . . And all those small towns have funeral directors who live above the funeral parlor,'' she said. The bees? She read a news story, as a child, about a young boy who suffered such a death, and she drew on the memory as she reworked the script.

Elehwany's parents still live in Oxford; her father, who came to the United States from Egypt to study at the University of Maryland, College Park, married and remained in the mid-Atlantic region, she said. She has two brothers -- one who works for a food company in Hanover and lives in Owings Mills, and another who is in banking in Washington.

She attended the University of Delaware and majored in English and political science, but ''I was always writing short stories and poems.'' After graduation, Elehwany became a page at the NBC Studios in New York, where, as an employee, she was allowed to enter a writing contest. She wrote a sample script for the TV sitcom ''Golden Girls,'' and when her entry made it to the finals, she was encouraged enough to head for California. There, she became a screen-writing fellow at the American Film Institute.

At present, she is writing two scripts. One, for Paramount, is about a couple who is selling the family house and has invited all the children home for a final stay. ''It's all about their relationships,'' she said. ''There is a lot of fighting.''

She is doing the second script on spec. ''It's about two goofy brothers who are trying to make it,'' she said. ''No one dies.''

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