In Bruckheimer films, ladies often pine (”Top Gun”), whine (”The Rock”), or have creepy things done to them with animal crackers (”Armageddon”). But with ”Coyote Ugly,” based on Elizabeth Gilbert’s 1997 ”GQ” article about a rowdy New York City bar, the producer returns to a ”Flashdance”-esque focus on females. ”The women are tough, they’re smart, they’re ambitious,” Bruckheimer says. At the titular watering hole, cocktail waitress and aspiring songwriter Violet Sanford (Perabo) sings and dances on the bar in order to overcome stage fright.
First-time director McNally was looking for ”people where there wasn’t any preconceived notion as to who they were.” That certainly applied to Perabo, who had appeared only in ”Whiteboys” before she was cast (though she will also be seen in this summer’s ”Adventures of Rocky and Bullwinkle”). Preparation for her role included guitar, piano, and dance lessons. Perabo promises her barroom shimmies can be easily deployed at your local alehouse: ”The choreography was specific to be moves any girl could pull off just jumping up on the bar.”