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On the Same Page with Linda Bloodworth-Thomason

Linda Bloodworth-Thomason, creator of the television series Designing Women, brings her debut novel, Liberating Paris, to "On the Same Page". "Writing Liberating Paris was much akin to writing a love letter to the American South," Thomason said. "This book shouts out three especially important messages to every U.S. citizen: fight against the death of Main Street, don't dilute the lifeblood of America with trumped-up values and don't discount the South."

The novel tells the story of six friends, all on the verge of middle age, who must come to terms with the past in order to claim their futures. This episode is hosted by Tommy Sanders and is part of "AETN Presents," which features a variety of performances, arts and cultural subjects.

"I wanted to show rural Southerners who were sophisticated, cosmopolitan, well educated," Thomason said on The Today Show. "I wanted to show that these people in a small Southern town could embrace great social change and be capable of great tolerance."

Liberating Paris focuses on a town that has had its all-American heart cut out by losing its Main Street. The richly interwoven plot shows how these friends learn not only what there is about that street that is so worth keeping, but it also shows why they should fight to save it for future generations.

Sanders examined the book with Anne-Marie LeBlanc of Laman Public Library in North Little Rock; Gary Jones of Jones Productions, Inc. in Little Rock; and Janice Davis of the Well-Seasoned Book Club in Morrilton. Both the interview and panel discussion were taped at That Bookstore at Montebanq Place in Conway.

"Throughout her career as an award-winning and groundbreaking television producer and writer, Thomason has given the world some of TV's most memorable characters," Carol Haggas wrote in a Booklist review. "Now, she brings her trademark talent for combining humor with humility, intelligence with insouciance, to a sparkling debut novel that chronicles one exceptional year for a circle of longtime friends in Paris, Ark.

"Offering a touching and tender tribute to small-town Arkansas, Thomason excels at creating larger-than-life, yet down-to-earth, characters, endowing them with endearing flaws, enriching wisdom and ennobling courage."

The book, already in its third printing, has met with great success, and Thomason is currently negotiating with Michelle Pfeiffer, Kevin Costner and Billy Bob Thornton to play the leads in a film adaptation of Liberating Paris, which may begin filming in Arkansas in January.