Kensington screenwriter pens Lifetime holiday movie ‘Single and Ready to Jingle’

WTOP's Jason Fraley previews 'Single and Ready to Jingle' (Part 1)

A 40-year dream is finally coming true for Brian Ruberry of Kensington, Maryland.

After decades toiling as an aspiring screenwriter, Ruberry finally sold his first movie. And his second movie. And his third movie. All in the past year. Talk about a happy holiday!

“Forty years of rejection, and 2022, I end up selling three,” Ruberry told WTOP. “I actually sold them last year, but I had three movies made in 2022 after 40 years of rejection. For all of the writers out there, it’s never too late. Just keep on plugging. It can happen.”

His latest, “Single and Ready to Jingle,” airs on Lifetime this Sunday at 8 p.m.

“It’s going to be a few more people than my wife and kids,” Ruberry said. “It’s actually going to be like 25 people. We’re having a watch party! Everybody is going to get a little bell when they arrive, so they can be ready to jingle during the movie. … I don’t know how many single people are going to be there, but everybody will be ready to jingle.”

The film follows Emma Warner, who spends 12 months a year focusing on Christmas as the senior vice president of a toy company. This year, she plans a tropical trip to a singles resort, but a booking mistake lands her in a Christmas-obsessed town in Alaska.

“There’s a scene on the airplane where she’s in a summer dress and this big floppy hat and sandals,” Ruberry said. “She sits next to a big, burly guy in one of these big fur caps and a heavy winter coat. She’s like, ‘What’s he doing on this plane?’ Of course, she arrives in Alaska, it’s 20 below, the wind is blowing, it’s snowing and she’s in a little sundress.”

Amid the comedy, a holiday romance ensues — as required by the genre.

“It’s very much a comedy,” Ruberry said. “She’s stranded at the airport because there’s a big snowstorm. She can’t fly out and she meets a guy there who takes her to the inn run by his sister and he ends up being her love interest, so yeah, it’s a romantic comedy.”

Born in Chicago, Ruberry grew up in Virginia, graduating from Bishop Ireton High School in Alexandria and James Madison University in Harrisonburg. He attended film school at Loyola Marymount in Los Angeles, then came home to work in public relations for the American Heart Association and American Red Cross, but his screenwriting dream burned.

“I’ve been trying to do this since I went to film school in the ’80s,” Ruberry said. “A few years ago, I read an article in a screenwriting magazine that said, ‘Hey, a great way to break in is to write these TV movies because Hallmark and Lifetime — for just Christmas alone — do dozens of movies every year, so they’re in constant need of production.”

He immediately contacted the article’s author, who suggested that he watch a bunch of TV movies in that specific genre. During his binge watch, a certain formula emerged.

“No sex, no cursing, cute, cute, cute,” Ruberry said. “They’re like nothing else you’ll see certainly at the movie theaters, Netflix, Amazon or Apple. They’re their own beast. You have to understand the nine-act structure. You can buy all these screenwriting books that talk about three acts, but not for TV movies. There’s nine acts [for] commercial breaks.”

After writing a script, he sent it to the author of the magazine article, who was intrigued.

“I don’t think she realized that I’m actually an experienced writer, so I banged out a script and sent it to her,” Ruberry said. “She called me a week later and said, ‘I think you can sell this.’ That got the ball rolling, I went to L.A., met with some producers, one I met with owes Lifetime six Christmas movies every year. Eventually, she ended up producing my first.”

He first sold “The Attraction Test,” which aired on UPtv in April. He next sold “Stepping Into Love,” but he’s not sure where it’ll air yet. Finally, Lifetime contacted him with a title.

“Lifetime said, ‘Hey, we like this title, ‘Single and Ready to Jingle,’ but we don’t have a story for it. Would you pitch us a few concepts for the story?’ I of course said, ‘Sure.'”

The rest is history, as his wife, adult children and friends have their popcorn ready.

“I live in Maryland, a whole other side of the country,” Ruberry said. “You don’t need to be in L.A. You don’t need to be in New York. If you have good ideas and you have a talent for writing, they’ll be interested in reading your scripts. You can write from anywhere.”

WTOP's Jason Fraley previews 'Single and Ready to Jingle' (Part 2)

Listen to our full conversation here.

Jason Fraley

Hailed by The Washington Post for “his savantlike ability to name every Best Picture winner in history," Jason Fraley began at WTOP as Morning Drive Writer in 2008, film critic in 2011 and Entertainment Editor in 2014, providing daily arts coverage on-air and online.

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