Today’s panelists, Jessy Blanchard, the owner of her own cupcake company; Danielle Winston, a screenwriter and yoga instructor; and Shirley Joel, a retired advertising veteran who currently executive produces a bi-monthly cable television program; hook up with our host, Stefanie Alleyne, at the Wix Lounge, a free work and event space for creative professionals in the Flatiron District in New York City to discuss the thoroughly modern romantic comedy, “Friends with Kids.”
Based on her own life experiences with friends having kids and falling off the radar, Jennifer Westfeldt’s directorial debut, “Friends with Kids,” grapples with a number of contemporary parenting scenarios. Expect shrewd observations on age and gender as well as unconventional approaches on such conventional themes as love, friendship and marriage. Although the outcome may be predictable, as it so often is in the world of romantic comedy, the ride on this merry-go-round offers an attempt at a new spin on an old theme. Jennifer proves to be a triple threat here as she not only directs this film, but also writes the script and plays a starring role. Her past spirited works include the indie hit, “Kissing Jessica Stein” (2001), which she co-wrote and co-starred in with Heather Juergensen.
Filmed entirely in New York City, “Friends with Kids,” proposes the story of two best friends who decide to have a child together while keeping their own relationship platonic. We follow them and their closest of friends who are married with kids over a period of time as they play well with each other, share happy meals and as so often happens, are forced to take time outs. The film dishes up a splendid ensemble cast of actors (a director’s dream list, really) who transition from comedy to drama seamlessly. It includes a number of happy faces from last year’s popular film, “Bridesmaids” like Maya Rudolph, Kristen Wiig, John Hamm (Westfeld’s real life beau and AMC’s Mad Men dreamboat) and Chris O’Dowd. This is Chris O’Dowd’s first trip down the road as a leading man and he does indeed walk tall. Ed Burns and Megan Fox make for great eye candy while playing pivotal roles within the storyline. Quirky dialogue, fresh premise and even pacing aside, “Friends with Kids,” is fun and entertaining but ultimately free falls for the easy out.
More About our Fabulous Panel
Jessy Blanchard, is a graduate of Vanderbilt University’s College of Arts and Science, and the founder and owner of Jessy Cupcake Company, a web based cupcakery located in Brooklyn, New York that specializes in healthy customized confections.
Jessy fondly remembers the allure of her grandmother’s fresh baked bread and always admired the beauty of producing something fresh, unadulterated and pure to serve your loved ones. Inspired by this memory, in 2009, she began experimenting with all natural, calorie-cutting alternative baking, in an effort to eat responsibly and to satisfy her family’s sweet tooth. In 2010, she established Tribble Blanchard Inc., officiating the eponymous brand of baked goods. In 2011, she established the website, JessyCupcakeCo.com, which would grow to become the main sales portal of her web based business.
Jessy prides herself on providing products and services which make healthy desserts available, where otherwise inaccessible. Her healthy cupcakes make it possible for people to “have their Cupcake and eat it too.”
With a long background in advertising, fashion, retailing and multi-media, Shirley Joel began her career in New York as a copywriter at BBDO, the New York advertising agency. She then served as Ad Manager for Saks Fifth Avenue, where she won an “Andy Award” for small space newspaper advertising. Having segued into industrial and educational films, she later became audio-visual director and sales promotion vice-president for a major retail consulting firm.
She subsequently opened a successful ‘boutique’ advertising agency, “Marketing and More,” with diverse clients in the New York area. Although officially retired, Shirley Joel is currently an executive producer/writer for “Active Aging Stories,” half-hour programs which air twice a month on the cable network, Manhattan Neighborhood Network (MNN), a Public Access television station.
Theatrically, several of Danielle Winston’s one-act plays have been produced locally (some multiple times) and a few have even won audience-choice awards. Feature screenplays of hers have been optioned and lingered in development hell. Her newest feature script is a psychological ghost story, called “Sense Memory,” about a haunted actress, and also a horror/love story, about flawed beauty and bad-boys called “Hands of Fate.”
Commercially Danielle writes about everything ranging from, art, beauty, food and all green subjects (even dogs); her magazine articles can regularly be read in regional and national publications. And for toddlers, she wrote and illustrated the “Betsy Green Bean,” children’s picture book series about a five-year-old Manhattan witch, whose magical night in a West Village community garden shows her how to love vegetables.
A certified Hatha Yoga teacher from Integral Yoga, Danielle blended both her love of writing and Yoga to create Writer’s Flow Hatha Yoga, which she teaches at various locations throughout Manhattan and to private clients.
Find more about the free creative hotspot, Wix Lounge.
Learn more about the film, “Friends with Kids”