It was one of the worst winters in New England and I had retreated to the house I grew up in, some 20 miles outside of Boston, to lick my wounds over the dissolution of a seven-year relationship with my girlfriend, Trish. I had decided to write a script. I would call it Beautiful Girls, and I would base it entirely on my friends from home. These guys, my high school crew, had largely remained in our hometown, and most of them were landscapers, snowplow drivers and construction workers. I went so far as to use their actual nicknames. I was hoping my chums would see the movie as a valentine to them; to their myriad struggles; to their noble work ethic; to their histories, with all of their Springsteenian flourishes. And they did. At first.
I flew them to New York for the premiere. They met their Hollywood counterparts, had their pictures taken with Elle Macpherson. (The Saint Bernard in the movie was named Elle Macpherson, so it was incumbent upon me to take the Aussie supermodel to the premiere as my date.) They got drunk with Harvey Weinstein. All was swell. Until a week later. When a cartoon in our local paper had a caption that read: "Local Boy Scott Rosenberg's Beautiful Girls Is Based on Our Town." And the cartoon depicted a dozen overweight landscapers with thought bubbles that said: "Do I look like Matt Dillon?" "I love that I look like Matt Dillon!" That was the end of the innocence. My friends, now fully exposed and feeling vulnerable, decided they were unhappy with me. Very unhappy.
When, years later, I got the news that the head of ABC, Steve McPherson, was a fan of the movie and wanted to find a way to somehow bring the spirit of it to television, my way in was apparent. Why not fictionalize my experience with Beautiful Girls? But let's make it a novel rather than a movie that the protagonist, Nick Garrett, wrote using his friends as fodder. Thus October Road was born. And, no, I have not failed to see the irony that I have, indeed, exploited my friends a second time. As if it wasn't enough to expose their lives the first time around, this time around I have exposed their reactions to having exposed their lives the first time around! The good news? Ten years hence, and now at long last, they're all happily ensconced with their very own beautiful girls, and they love the show. They proudly ride their snowplows through town, stopping off at the doughnut shop, imploring all to "check out Rosey's show. It's called October Road. And I'm the basis for the character of Owen Rowan!"
And, when all is said and done, short of a Saint Bernard named Elle Macpherson, what could be better than that?
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