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Arts and Entertainment

Revenge is Sweet: Meet Writer-Producer Hilary Winston

Hilary Winston opened the wrong book at The Grove
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Writer-producer Hilary Winston (My Name is Earl, Community, Happy Endings) has the quintessential Hollywood story to tell. The Corpus Christi-raised Republican considered a life in politics and law, but when she left Texas for George Washington University, she began doing very left leaning things: interning at the Clinton White House and working as an assistant at NPR. To complete the transformation to the dark side, she joined GW’s comedy/improv group and decided that a degree in International Affairs would naturally translate to comedy writing—in Los Angeles.

Fast forward a couple of years and Winston, now a struggling writer in LA, meets a boy, also a struggling writer from Texas, and they date for five years. And break up. End of story, right? Wrong.

Fast forward a little more, and Winston is browsing at Barnes & Noble at The Grove and she catches her ex’s name on a book of fiction. Against her better judgement, she picks it up from the display and starts reading about the author’s “fat-assed girlfriend taking Groundlings improv classes.” Winston was mortified. She had a fat ass. She studied with the Groundlings. Her life was front and center—in fiction at The Grove!—and she wanted to exact revenge.

“I knew that he had written a book. I probably shouldn’t have picked it up,” Winston said during a recent phone interview. “But I was not expecting at all that it would be about our relationship.”

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She was clearly devastated about the book, but instead of going all Fatal Attraction on her ex, she decided to write her own tome, compiling all the bad dating stories that she’d been telling for years and committing them to paper. “Revenge will get you out of bed in the morning,” she said.

Last month, Winston’s revenge hit bookstores everywhere (including that Barnes & Nobles at the Grove) with the release of her first book, My Boyfriend Wrote a Book about Me. In the book, she airs all her dirty laundry about her sexual hangups and relationships that got her where she is today. While there are stories about sex gone wrong, it’s never sordid in the details. It’s a great summer read for anyone who’s ever been dumped. (Except her conservative parents, whom she told to never read the book. “I said, ‘If you do read it, it’s not up for discussion.’”)

“It’s not a mean-spirited book,” she says. In the pages, she pokes fun at herself most of all. Chapter titles include: The Accidental Hand Job, Gary, My Crazy-ass Horny Mailman and My Broken Vagina.

Here’s the shortest chapter of the book, He Didn’t Event Look at Me Twice:

I interned at the While House from October of 1994 to January of 1996. He didn’t even look at me twice. All I got was a lousy tote bag and box of M&Ms with the Presidential seal on them. When the Lewinsky scandal broke, I’m not going to lie, my feelings were a little hurt.

In addition to recently joining the writing team for ABC’s Happy Endings, she’s busy writing the script for My Boyfriend Wrote a Book About Me. It’s already been optioned by Paramount, with Lorne Michaels producing.Revenge is sweet, yes, but a Hollywood deal is even sweeter. 
Winston's Town
For reasons made clear in the book, Winston now avoids the Olive Garden, lest it dredge up memories of her and her ex. (Though she did tell me she recently sat in an Olive Garden parking lot lured by the thought of their breadsticks. But she couldn’t go in.) So we asked her what her favorite places were in LA: