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June 2006
Strangers with Candy - A Interview with Amy Sedaris and Pinello

Strangers with Candy
An Interview with Amy Sedaris and Pinello, continued
By Kara Warner
June 23, 2006

Where is Florrie Fisher today, the woman who inspired the character?

Sedaris: I don't think she's alive

Dinello: We have people out there with feelers, looking for her. She'd be... let's see, that was forty years ago, who's good at math? I think she'd be in her 80's now and when you do heroin for thirty years, that's not looking so good.

Sedaris: Don't you actually look young if you do heroin?

Dinello: Right. I guess our message is that it's good to do heroin if you want to maintain a youthful appearance. Keith Richards looks so spring fresh...

Sedaris: People would say my skin looked to good to play Jerri and I would say, 'Heroin addicts have good skin I think.' I haven't done heroin or anything.

Were you popular in high school?

Sedaris: I got along with everybody. I was in a lot of clubs... I was a girl scout through my senior year, I was in Junior Achievement. Alright, I ran for Class Council and won.

Dinello: How about Prom Queen?

Sedaris: No, never. None of us really remember that much from high school.

Dinello: They were dark years...

Sedaris: I think that's one thing that's so funny about 'Strangers,' we're so un-hip. We don't know what the kids are like today, we didn't research it. We just did what we thought was funny.

Dinello: We tried to create sort of a parallel universe, so we're not really commenting on real high school kids. It's our perception of what high school is like.

Sedaris: With the teachers, I remember I always wondered what went on in the Teacher's Lounge. In the movie, I had one day off and I asked Paul if I could be an extra in a scene, to I play the bartender in the Teacher's Lounge scene. I had my eyebrows removed... that was fun.

Have you been to your high school reunion?

Sedaris: I've never even been invited. I was popular, did I answer that question? I've never been invited, I don't know why. I was in the phone book until about five years ago.

Where are you from in North Carolina?

Sedaris: The capital, Rawley. [Another reporter comments that he used to live there when he worked for the News-Observer] I used to deliver the News-Observer. I had my own newspaper route but I had to quit because one day the bag came up and flipped around my neck and it was icy out and I fell and that was it.

What happened with Warner Independent, not following through with distribution?

Dinello: They bought the movie at Sundance and then I went to LA and sort of worked on it with them and then the claimed at one point there was a clearance problem and they asked us to clear like eight thousand things in the movie, it became impossible so it was a separating of ways.

Is it the same movie from Sundance?

Dinello: The Sundance version was a rough version. The film wasn't really finished and I submitted a rough edit and it got accepted so I sort of put something together to show at Sundance, but it was never really the finished product. I watched it with all of the audiences there and it was clear it was a little too long.

Is there anything that didn't make it into the movie?

Dinello: There's great stuff that didn't make it in.

Sedaris: Will that be on the DVD?

Dinello: No. You'll have to come to my house to see it. You're all invited. But there's great stuff. There's a scene in a locker room with Amy where she's leering at cheerleaders... there's a scene where Matthew and Sarah, they're characters hook-up at the end. There's a scene where Sarah councils a teenager who's suicidal because his relationship broke-up, there's a lot of great stuff.

Sedaris: So will that be on the DVD?

Dinello: Yeah, it will all be on there.

Do you see these characters taking on lives of their own, in spin-offs?

Dinello: We think of it like The Jefferson's. Everyone gets their own show.

Who would be your first choice for a spin-off?

Dinello: I'd like to see Puffybush...

Sedaris: I was just going to say the same thing! Dolores Duffy, who plays Mrs. Puffybush, I would have her... yeah, she's sixteen. She'd be great at a Sweet Sixteen.

Is Stephen a good kisser?

Sedaris: Yeah Paul, is he? Don't ask me,..

Dinello: He's a generous lover. He's a lot more refined than I am. I think I'm a little too eager.

He does special things for you?

Dinello: He does. He always has.

Sedaris: Rrrrimming!

Did the movie give you the freedom to do things you couldn't do with the TV show? Is there more swearing?

Dinello: I think there's probably less swearing...

Sedaris: Yeah, now that we can do stuff, we didn't. But we really didn't go out of our way to shock anybody, even the TV show. We did what we thought was funny.

Dinello: Content-wise, I'd say that that's a whole lot different. I tried to give it a cinematic quality, and we could have set pieces that were more elaborate. When we were shooting the show, we had $18 so we had to write scenes around a classroom and a bathroom, which helped creatively in a way because you were really limited. So I hope that the film feels cinematic...

Was there anything you learned from directing?

Dinello: She's [Sedaris] a prima-donna, I didn't know that. The biggest difference is that there were people lined up to ask me questions about every little detail, 'Should Jeri's shoe be tied with a double-knot or a bow?' I thought people made those decisions on their own but apparently not. So that was different, that every detail or question had to be run through me. But it was sort of a natural progression, because we had so much control on the TV show, to ease into directing the movie.

Everything I read has the three of you sort of equal partners. As the director you become 'The Boss'

Was that hard?

Dinello: Amy doesn't need a boss, you know what I mean? She needs an animal trainer, a wrangler. I just sort of kept her corralled, pointed in the right direction. The same with Stephen, he's such a great performer. And he was busy with the Daily Show, so it just seemed like a natural role, which I've had before, keeping my eye on the big picture. And Amy's so busy, she's in practically every frame, so she doesn't really have time to worry about what was written on a locker.

Sedaris: Although I do. I'd say, 'Stop the scene. Who did this?' I obsess about details. I had craft meetings during the movie. I hired my friends to come in and do all the posters and the little things that are important to me that maybe no one else would think about.

Dinello: It's easier to direct when you know you've got people watching your back, like Amy and Stephen. It would be harder if it were a bunch of strangers.

Sedaris: He was always dressed in character and directing, you know, in his gay gay gay clothes and trying to direct, sometimes it was impossible to take him seriously. But when it was time for Paul to do his scene, he'd need us to help him, so Stephen and I would direct Paul, which was a blast.

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