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Hilary Winston: ‘Community’ writer makes good use of bad breakups

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Breakups have led to breakthroughs for comedy scribe Hilary Winston.

Winston, who recently joined the staff of ABC’s “Happy Endings,” got her first major writing gig (on “My Name Is Earl”) when a pilot she wrote in the wake of a romantic split impressed “Earl” creator Greg Garcia, who brought her on for the show’s entire run.

“I poured everything I had into that pilot — my point of view, what I thought my comedy was,” Winston says. “And Greg was like, ‘I have to have this person on my show.’ It was so amazing to feel discovered like that.”

For the past two years, she’s been a co-executive producer on “Community,” where the same spirit of go-for-broke self-disclosure served her well. “It was a show about putting everything out there at the risk of falling on our faces,” says Winston. “We never backed down from anything.”

So when she came across a novel by another ex, in which she was referred to as “my fat-assed girlfriend,” she didn’t hesitate. She spun her feelings into a collection of personal essays titled “My Boyfriend Wrote a Book About Me.” It led to a sale of movie rights to Paramount and her first screenplay deal.

Even so, Winston isn’t about to forsake the smallscreen.

“The staffs I worked with helped shape my book — they’d listen to my stories, and help me see what the punchlines were,” she says. “When people talk about leaving TV for features, I think, ‘How could you ever give up the writers room?’ It’s a really magical place. And for me, it’s free therapy.”

Rising writers take biggest step
Alex Cary | Whitney Cummings | Lena Dunham | John Enbom | David Hudgins | Rolin Jones | Kyle Killen | Chris Provenzano | Emily Spivey | Hilary Winston

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