'Tis the Season for Hallmark! Inside 4 Heartwarming Original Holiday Movies
The weather outside is frightful, but staying inside with these heartwarming original moves is so delightful.
Check out four Hallmark Christmas movies that should be on your must-watch list.
A Christmas Love Story
This Love Story has all the holiday-movie, uh, hallmarks that Hallmark fans love: attractive singletons, a touching plot, and a festive celebration. It also features two new elements: Its stars, Scott Wolf and Kristin Chenoweth, have never before appeared in the network's seasonal fare!
"What drew me to the movie," Wolf tells TV Guide Magazine, "was the beautiful story."
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Katherine (The West Wing's Chenoweth, also an executive producer), a youth choir director and former Broadway star, has been tasked with writing a big finale for the group's annual holiday concert. Sales from the song will fund the following year's program, so the pressure is on — but she's hit a wall creatively. Enter talented teen Danny (Kevin Quinn), who elevates the sound of the choir and happens to have a widowed dad (Wolf, Party of Five) with killer dimples who might inspire Katherine to write a hit.
We cozied up to the stars to learn more.
What draws Katherine and Scott's character, Greg, to each other?
Scott Wolf: Greg is still in the wake of losing his wife — the mother of his son — but enough time has gone by. There's something so bright about Katherine that she snaps him into the moment.
Kristin Chenoweth: She sees that he's a good dad, so that lights a fire. I think it's sexy to see a man be a good parent!
Kristin, can you relate to Katherine's difficulty writing?
Chenoweth: Oh, sure. Hallmark asked me to write the song for the movie. I thought, "No, I can't. I'm scared. What? No. Wait? Huh?" Then I thought about those kids and me getting to conduct them [in the movie] singing a song I wrote. [Chenoweth penned "When Angels Land" with Chely Wright.]
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Scott, there's a lot of singing in the film. Do you get to partake?
Wolf: [Laughs] The short answer is yes, but I'm not expecting any offers for record deals. My character is not supposed to be a good singer — that's how I'll save face.
You didn’t shoot during the holidays. Was capturing the spirit a challenge?
Chenoweth: We filmed this in January and February, so I had just experienced Christmas and had done a Mormon Tabernacle [Choir holiday] special. And then right after the Hallmark movie, I did another holiday movie for Netflix. So I've been doing Christmas all year round!
A Christmas Love Story, Saturday, Dec. 7, 8/7c, Hallmark Channel
— Jim Halterman
A Family Christmas Gift
"I called her and said, 'I need to do a movie with you, and I need you to sing and be in it more,'" Peete recalls. After becoming an executive producer on A Family Christmas Gift, she got her wish.
Peete stars as Amber, a music magazine editor spending the holidays with her famous aunt, Dora (LaBelle), a retired singer now running a Colorado inn. Soon enough, Dora volunteers Amber to help a handsome music teacher (Dion Johnstone) plan his annual fundraising Christmas concert. After a series of setbacks, Dora offers to perform "O Holy Night."
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As she shot the showstopper, "the crew guys were crying like babies," LaBelle says. "Which made me feel great because that’s what happens to me when I sing it — you shed a little tear."
Playing Peete's auntie also came naturally to LaBelle. She was a guest at the actress' 1995 wedding to NFL quarterback Rodney Peete and used to cook the couple meals when he played for the Eagles, the team in her native Philadelphia. Once, she even shipped them a brisket!
With cookbook author LaBelle now known for her pies (sold in Walmart), Peete had another script note: "I went out of my way to say, 'We must have a pie scene,'" she says. "That's when my EP credit really paid off."
A Family Christmas Gift, Sunday, Dec. 22, 9/8c, Hallmark Movies & Mysteries
When Calls the Heart: Home for Christmas
Team Lucas or Team Nathan? The debate has been raging for fans of Hallmark's hit frontier drama When Calls the Heart ever since the Season 6 finale in June. During ladies' choice at the Founder's Day dance, widowed schoolteacher Elizabeth (Erin Krakow) picked charming saloon owner Lucas (Chris McNally) to be her partner — then locked eyes with dashing Mountie Nathan (Kevin McGarry) as he left dejected.
"I knew if we did our job right, [viewers] would be split," says executive producer Alfonso Moreno. "Oftentimes, it's the good guy and the guy that's really not right for someone in those situations. I wanted to create a much tougher decision."
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Krakow, who laughingly likens the triangle to a Bachelorette finale, confirms Elizabeth won't be giving out her proverbial final rose in this annual holiday film (or when Season 7 arrives in February). She'll take her time, getting to know the men better as Lucas throws the town a German Christmas festival and Nathan weighs an opportunity that would take him and his niece (Jaeda Lily Miller) away from Hope Valley.
The meaning of home, and how that definition changes, is the movie's theme. For Elizabeth, it involves leaning on friends like neighbors Rosemary and Lee (Pascale Hutton and Kavan Smith) as she faces celebrating baby Jack's first birthday and Christmas as a single mother. Judge Bill's (Jack Wagner) gift to his godson, Krakow notes, will be especially touching: "It made me a little misty."
When Calls the Heart: Home for Christmas, Wednesday, Dec. 25, 8/7c, Hallmark Channel
Time for You to Come Home for Christmas
Alison Sweeney admits she cried every time she watched her first Hallmark holiday movie, 2017's Christmas at Holly Lodge (thanks to costar Sheryl Lee Ralph's stirring rendition of "Joy to the World"). This year, she's gonna need more tissues. Sweeney plays Katherine, a widow who takes 12-year-old son Will (Kiefer O'Reilly) back to her Virginia hometown for the first time since her husband died two years earlier. En route, she encounters Jack (Lucas Bryant), a military veteran on a mysterious mission to repay a gift he was given.
"There's something lovely about how she and her son work through their feelings together and how this handsome stranger is a part of that," Sweeney says.
The actress took the characters' poignant storylines seriously. Still, she didn't want to miss out on the requisite flirty fun — like in Katherine and Jack's ice-skating scene.
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"The director of photography thought my charming near-falls were realistic," she boasts. "He said how much he enjoyed [capturing the sequence]. I took that as a huge compliment."
Time for You to Come Home for Christmas, Sunday, Dec. 8, 9/8c, Hallmark Movies & Mysteries