When Jennifer Barrow was a senior at Rutger’s University in her home state of New Jersey, her theater-major housemates offered her a chance to write a script for an end-of the-year skit. Though she didn’t know it at the time, that was the beginning of a lifelong career in script-writing.
Barrow’s newest project, a Hallmark Channel movie called “Dater’s Handbook,” airs Saturday, Jan. 30, at 9 p.m. She said she is very excited about the timing, because “Dater’s Handbook,” which she co-wrote with frequent collaborator Rich Tabach, occupies quite a sweet bit of television real estate.
It has been chosen to kick off the Hallmark Channel’s “Countdown to Valentine’s Day,” which will feature Valentine’s-appropriate movie premieres each Saturday and Sunday evening between Jan. 30 and Feb. 14.
“Dater’s Handbook” is described on the Hallmark Channel website as “a fun romantic comedy that follows Cassandra Brand, who has come to realize that she has a recurring habit of picking the wrong type of guy, so she turns to a relationship expert, Dr. Susie, and her latest self-help book, ‘The Dater’s Handbook,’ to help with her ailing love life.”
Encouraged by her mother and sister, the heroine, Cass, follows the advice in Dr. Susie’s book to evaluate potential suitors and then must choose between “reliable George” and “fun-loving Robert.”
Barrow said she and Tabach wrote the screenplay two years ago and were thrilled to have it picked up by the Hallmark Channel. The movie was filmed in Vancouver, British Columbia, and while Barrow said she and Tabach were not able to attend the filming, they were kept abreast of progress as the movie was filmed.
She said that, while screenwriters generally don’t have much control over what happens to their script once they sell it “unless you’re one of the really famous ones,” she was pleased with the resulting movie.
“There are things I would have done differently, sure,” Barrow said. “But it’s actually very good!”
With her end-of-college revelation that writing scripts was something she was good at, after she graduated from Rutgers, Barrow “packed up and went to L.A., having no idea what I was getting myself into.”
She spent the next few years “following the usual path” toward screenwriting — production assistant, then writer’s assistant, then script coordinator. Eventually, she broke into writing scripts for shows including “King of the Hill,” for which she wrote two episodes.” “Dater’s Handbook” is the first full-length movie she has written that has been picked up for production.
Eight years ago, Barrow realized that she no longer had to live in Los Angeles in order to work, so she moved back East, to Wilmington, N.C., and began working from her home.
That move also allowed her to return to Ocean View, where she had spent summer vacations for more than 20 years. But now, she said, instead of short vacations, she’s able to be enjoy the beach town “from June to August.” Barrow said she particularly enjoys watching her 7-year-old son playing with his “summer friends” in Delaware each year.
This year, when she returns to Delaware for the summer, she’ll have yet another Hallmark movie coming to the small screen. So, stay tuned — her next project airs in June.
For a preview of “Dater’s Handbook,” though, go to http://www.hallmarkchannel.com/daters-handbook/videos, where there are also some behind-the-scenes videos featuring the movie’s three stars, Megan Markle, Kristoffer Polaha and Jonathan Scarfe. Check out “Dater’s Handbook,” on the Hallmark Channel on Saturday, Jan. 30, at 9 p.m.