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Sisters making films: The Goodmans

August 21, 2011|By Jodie Burke, Special to the Los Angeles Times
  • Jenniphr, left, and Greer Goodman made the indie feature "The Tao of Steve" and are preparing another film.
Jenniphr, left, and Greer Goodman made the indie feature "The Tao… (Eric Pope )

The Goodmans

The Goodman sisters created a surprise indie hit with their first feature, "The Tao of Steve," in 2000. The film, co-written with Jenniphr's housemate Duncan North, starred Donal Logue as an underachieving, frequently stoned womanizer and Greer Goodman as the one who got away.

"Jenniphr went to NYU film school. I went to Yale drama school. And we were sitting around doing nothing," Greer Goodman recalls. "I thought, 'Instead of waiting for some job on some sitcom, why don't I write with my sister who went to film school and made movies that won awards?'"

Sony Classics released the film and Hollywood came calling, but Jenniphr was pregnant on the publicity tour and already had a little one missing her at home. Greer wound up falling in love, getting married and having kids, so the Goodman sisters temporarily shelved their career ambitions. Soon there were four children and 2,000 miles between them.

"It just kills us that we live so far apart," Greer says via conference call that connects her in New York to Jenniphr in Santa Fe, N.M.

Finding time to write the second screenplay together was tough, but they pulled it off. They are preparing to make "Almost Gone" — a father-daughter story inspired by their lovable but complicated dad. Greer says she has retired from acting but plans to co-direct the film with Jenniphr.

Like Team Todd, the Goodman sisters forged an alliance with each other after their parents divorced. Jenniphr took care of her little sister. "Greer was very successful in school, and I was not," Jenniphr says. "I was never jealous of Greer's successes. I was always relieved that someone in the family had succeeded and I could breathe a little easier.

"This is not to say that we didn't have horrifying fights," Jenniphr notes. "Don't think that there wasn't hair-pulling and spitting."

Not everybody gets along with her sister. Even sisters who do get along don't necessarily want to work together. That's why there's something special about sisters who decide to take on Hollywood together. They love each other, sure. But it's more than that. They take risks with each other. They are generous with each other. The bond they share is strong, and it is forever.

Up against tall odds the brothers throw down, it's not just the way that they work together that is touching to observe among these sister teams. It's the way they believe in each other.

Read about other sisters in film.

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