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Nancy Goodman's personal experience is woven into the film. 0

A romantic comedy with a big helping of truth

October 12th, 2017

Nancy Goodman is a suburban mom who found emotional relief in writing a memoir about eating disorders. She followed that up with a romantic comedy novel that has a subplot about emotional and binge eating, titled “Surprise Me.”

And much to her pleasure–and surprise–it’s been made into a movie.

“It has an every-woman’s message,” Goodman tells me. “Everyone has an eating disorder. We’re all obsessed with food and diet. The tragedy is that we’re not looking at our feelings and relationships. The whole mantra of the book is that behind every craving is a feeling.”

The story of “Surprise Me” centers around the life of a party planner and the complicated relationship she has with the men in her life. She seeks therapy to help her understand why she overeats. It’s all fiction but Goodman acknowledges the food issues are true to her own life.

“I was a healthy eater who binged,” she says. “I’m also an emotional person and if something was triggered, even a hurtful comment, I’d react by eating.”

She was about 35 when she sought help through therapy at Northwestern Memorial Hospital.

Then came the memoir and the fiction book followed.

Goodman talked to Chicago entertainment attorney Corky Kessler about taking “Suprise Me” to screen. He guided her to a national screenwriting contest in Los Angeles–and “Surprise Me” won.

The award was $1,500 and an additional $250,000 in credit toward making the film.

Goodman is a producer along with Kevin McGrail (an entrepreneur who supports films) and Jeff Marsten (President and CEO of New Horizon Films in Chicago).

The movie’s production was a family affair. Goodman’s former husband, real-estate developer Scott Goodman, helped fund the production; family members recommended filming locations; and Goodman’s grown children appear in the film.

Locations include the Chicago Botanic Gardens, areas around Buffalo Grove and along the Dearborn Street Bridge in downtown Chicago.

The film stars Jonathan Bennett (“Mean Girls”), Fiona Gubelmann (“One Day At a Time” and “Daytime Divas”), Sean Faris (“Pretty Little Liars”), Nicole Sullivan (“Mad TV), La Shawn Banks (Chicago actor) and Robbin Coffin (“Chicago Fire” and “Empire.”)

Goodman hopes people watch the film’s trailer and like its Facebook page to create a buzz that might lead to a wider release (recall “My Big Fat Greek Wedding” found success in a similar, word-of-mouth way). A filming in Chicago is planned in the coming weeks (Watch Facebook for the date, she says).

“It’s not just a movie,” says Goodman. “It gives tools to lose weight and keep it off. I know it will help so many people.”

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