Elizabeth Reaser leverages 'Grey's Anatomy' acclaim into her own network series

by Rick Bentley

McClatchy Newspapers (MCT)

2 October 2008


LOS ANGELES—Elizabeth Reaser, star of the new CBS romantic comedy “The Ex List,” is better known to “Grey’s Anatomy” fans as Ava. Or is it Rebecca? Either way, the character earned her an Emmy nomination and a lot of fan attention.

Reaser is not worried that she is so closely associated with that character that viewers will have trouble accepting her as a woman in search of her true love in her new CBS series scheduled to debut at 9 p.m. EDT Friday.

“I don’t feel that closely identified with her. I’ve been working for what feels like a long time. So that was a really special job in a long line of special jobs,” Reaser says during an interview at the Beverly Hilton Hotel.

Before landing this series role, Reaser worked on “Law & Order: Criminal Intent” and “The Sopranos.” She’s also in the highly anticipated upcoming feature film “Twilight.” The Michigan native attended The Julliard School in New York.

Also starring in “The Ex List” are Rachel Boston, Adam Rothenberg, Alexandra Breckenridge and Amir Talai.

Reaser’s latest “special job” is as Bella Bloom, a 30-something single woman. A fortune teller tells Bella that she has already dated her future husband. So Bella makes a list of all the men she has felt a connection to and begins the search to find her Mr. Right.

“The Ex List” is based on an Israeli series. Each episode will have Bella dealing with multiple men from her past. So, if the series lasts for several years, Bella’s list could include hundreds of names.

Executive producer Diane Ruggiero, whose previous work includes “That’s Life” and “Veronica Mars,” knows there has to be a limit to the list of men Bella has dated. She explains who makes the list comes down to the definition of romantic involvement.

“I think that one of the things with the show is it’s not just someone that she’s dated. So it is also people that she was romantically involved with. In the pilot they talk about what constitutes romantic involvement. I have been romantically involved with some people that might not necessarily agree with that assessment,” Ruggiero says. “So it could be the kid in sixth grade that she had a crush on and they passed notes and he gave her a rose on Valentine’s Day.”

This is not the first series with a list. Producers of “My Name Is Earl” found after two seasons their list was a little limiting. Ruggiero is not worried about such a problem.

“It’s not like she has the list and she goes, ‘Oh, Joe Schmo. Let me go see where he’s at.’ There’s another fated element to it. There is a list that exists. But there’s also another element to it that will help propel it,” Ruggiero says.

She pauses and then adds, “In year three perhaps I’ll start to worry.”

Should “The Ex List” become an ex-show, there is a possibility Reaser could return to the role of Ava/Rebecca on “Grey’s Anatomy.”

“I know they didn’t kill her,” Reaser says. “So that’s good. You never know. I don’t think I’m going to be available, hopefully.”

//Mixed media