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"The Next Best Thing"

What happens when you're a young female TV writer, living in Hollywood, and your show gets picked up, and then things fall apart? Ruth Saunders, star of the short story "Swim," finds out in this summer's new release, THE NEXT BEST THING, coming 7/3/12. Read the first chapter here:

Producer Julia Phillips' book YOU'LL NEVER EAT LUNCH IN THIS TOWN AGAIN is a road map for Ruthie -- especially when Phillips talks about what kinds of women end up writing comedy (hint: current and former fat girls).

One of Ruthie's bosses rents the Batmobile for his birthday. "Look up the definition of 'entitlement' in the dictionary, and there's a picture of you. Driving the Batmobile," his partner says.

Jeff Greenstein and I wrote the pilot, and I spent six months in LA as a co-show-runner. Series aired summer of 2011. If you watched, thanks!

There's one of these in Ruth's backyard. She and her grandmother have heart-to-heart talks while drying laundry. PS: Do these things have names? In my hand, they are laundry whirligigs.

Framingham, MA is where Ruthie grows up. I imagined her house looking something like this.

When she's eight, Ruthie spends in the summer in the Shriners Hospital for Children in Boston. She writes, "I will never be pretty" in her diary. Her grandmother sees it, and cries.

Ruthie's office crush has a modern house, and a pool I pictured looking like this.

When Ruthie's grandmother gets engaged, they have a tasting at Sweet Lady Jane Cakes. Don't you wish you could, too?

Welcome to Sweet Lady Jane

The kickoff party for Ruthie's show is at Mastro's Steakhouse in Beverly Hills.

The love interest in the book uses a wheelchair. Priscilla Hedlin, who blogs as The Wheelchair Mommy, was kind enough to read an early version and see what I got right, and wrong.

Liz Phair did the music for "Georgia." Which meant I met one of my heroes! And ate some of her fruit plate one time.

Here I am in the "State of Georgia" writers' room, in front of a white board. Look closely and you'll see story ideas! Also, lipstick!

"When God sees a dog He likes, He folds one of its ears down to remember it." That line -- and a dog like this guy -- are both in THE NEXT BEST THING.

Sophie Jean the Rat Terrier

Ruthie's favorite show? "The Golden Girls." She watched it with her grandmother. Her own show, "The Next Best Thing," was meant to be a homage. Then things went wrong...

This is Jeff Greenstein! Best part of the show -- getting to write with him.

A pivotal scene in the book takes place at The Alcove in Los Feliz...that's where I lived (Los Feliz, not the restaurant) when I was making the show.

Ruthie graduates from college, and moves to LA with her grandmother to try to make it as a TV writer. I imagine their Hancock Park apartment in a building like this.

For Ruthie, swimming is her escape. The water is where she feels safe...and invisible.

In my head, this is how Ruthie looks...or would have looked without her scars: dark hair, light eyes, strong features, great smile.

"The Next Best Thing" stars Ruth Saunders, from the short story "Swim" in THE GUY NOT TAKEN. Ruth's a TV writer and an orphan, raised by her grandma after a car crash killed her parents and left her badly scarred.

Here is the cover. What is Ruthie swimming towards? Love? Success? A great pair of shoes?

The Next Best Thing
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