Interview with Karen David, Tyler Hilton and Robert Tate Miller of “When Christmas Was Young” on CBS by Suzanne 11/3/22
This is a fun holiday movie with some great music. You probably will recognize the two actors who star in it. Karen David (Melody) is in “Fear of the Walking Dead” and has been in many series, including “Legacies” and “Once Upon a Time.” Tyler HIlton is most known for “Extant” and “One Tree Hill.” They do an excellent job in this movie, which is produced by Sheryl Crowe and features her original music. The main tune is very good. It premieres tonight on CBS, 12/18/22, but you can watch it as well on Paramount+.
CBS 2022 HOLIDAY PROGRAMMING PANELS
WHEN CHRISTMAS WAS YOUNG
Robert Tate Miller, Writer
Virtual via Zoom
November 03, 2022
© 2022 CBS. All rights reserved.
ERIN FREILICH: Hi, everyone. I’m Erin Freilich, and together with the ever so festive Noelle Llewellyn, I am pleased to welcome you to the panel for “When Christmas Was Young.” The movie, which premiers on Sunday, December 18th on CBS and will be available to stream live and on demand on Paramount+, is a Nashville music themed movie for which award winning singer songwriter Sheryl Crow executive produced and wrote the title song.
The story follows a headstrong music manager in desperate need of a hit song for his last remaining client who finds himself falling for a gifted singer songwriter with abandoned dreams of making it big as he attempts to secure the rights to a Christmas song she wrote years ago.
On today’s panel, we have the stars of the movie, Karen David and Tyler Hilton, as well as our wonderful screen writer, Robert Tate Miller.
Before I hand the virtual mic over to Robert, just as a reminder, if you have a question, please raise your hand in the chat feature, and I will call on you by your screen name when it’s your turn.
Over to you, Robert, for your opening remarks.
ROBERT TATE MILLER: Thank you very much. Noelle, good to see you guys. Thanks for being here.
We are very, very excited about this project. Originally, coming up with this idea, wanted to do something that had not really been done that really had a sense of uniqueness about it. And I know you’ve heard there’s 150 movies new movies coming out. Wanted to do a project where you remembered it and said, “Yeah, I remember that one, When Christmas Was Young, it was a little different.” And we feel like we’ve created something that is unique and different, and Tyler and Karen were just phenomenal in this. They really bring this story to life.
All of us have music to me – I don’t have the musical gifts that Karen and Tyler have, but music has been so important in my life. And I think we all have these soundtracks from our life, songs that evoke memories, happy, sad, romantic, that just take us right back to another time. And this movie is revolves around a song which drives the story, and we were fortunate enough to have Sheryl Crow write this song, a gorgeous song, and it is the centerpiece, the core of this movie. And the song brings our couple together and drives the story. So we hope that you love seeing this movie and enjoy the screening, and we really love it and have such a sense of gratitude because we all had a wonderful time doing it. Hopefully you’ll have a wonderful time seeing it.
ERIN FREILICH: Thank you, Robert.
And that was actually a perfect lead in because right before the panel started, you all actually heard Karen’s recording of When Christmas Was Young, which she’ll be releasing very soon as a holiday single.
So, Karen, before we take the first question, can you tell us a little bit about how you brought this song to life and when the single will be coming out?
KAREN DAVID: Yes. Oh, gosh, well, hats off to Sheryl Crow. I mean, it’s such a dream to have someone like her, you know, crafting a song for your character. I remember when Tom Mazza, our producer, sent sent the track over, I was in London, and I was on a busy commuter train. And everyone was all like 6:00 rush hour, and they’re all, like, grouchy and grumpy, and there I was just beaming, thinking, Oh, my God, I’m hearing Sheryl Crow singing this demo on a packed commuter train in London. And it just it was a dream come true from there.
I we knew that we wanted to do a record and a single, and my husband, who’s a Grammy nominated music producer, I kind of said to him, I said, “Are you” “do you have some time on your hands maybe to produce this album?”
And I’m in this our studio, this is our home studio here, and it was so special because we just had this studio built in May during the pandemic, and this was the first song that we recorded and he mixed and everything and produced here in the studio. So it was really special for us in our in our home, which was still in the middle of house remodeling, but it was it was a dream come true to sing such a beautiful song and a beautiful Christmas song, which I just think is I mean, the lyrics and everything, it says it all and just makes this whole film just so magical.
ERIN FREILICH: Thanks, Karen.
KAREN DAVID: It comes out November 11. 11/11. So I’m hoping there’s some good you know, good energy around that.
ERIN FREILICH: For sure. Thanks, Karen.
QUESTION (this was my question): Hi. Yes, my question’s for Tyler. Since you’re a musician in real life, was it strange for you playing a music manager rather than playing and singing yourself?
TYLER HILTON: Yeah, it was fun. Like, it wasn’t weird. I kind of felt like I was getting away with something, you know? Like, I sing in everything I do, so I was kind of like, oh, I don’t I don’t have to do anything except kind of watch everyone else do it.
And I’ve never yeah, I’ve always played the musician, I’ve never really played the music business side of things. But I’ve been doing this like, music professionally since I was 15 or whatever and been around all kinds of record people in all different, like, phases of the industry. So it was kind of fun to embody a lot of the people I think I’ve worked with or whatever and also to see, like, the compassion on that side of it too, you know, the kind of pressure they’re under and what the stakes are for them and stuff. But I really liked it. It was fun.
QUESTION: Karen, just tell us more about your relationship with music and with the with acting. I see you’ve been doing music forever, musicals and on stage and everything else. But tell us a little bit about what your first love was and was there ever sometime where you thought, oh, maybe you were going to be more of an actress and you weren’t going to get to do that much music.
KAREN DAVID: Hi, Mike. That’s such a good question. You know, I blame my older sister. She’s she’s a bit older than me, so she’s always been like my second mom in a way and got dumped with babysitting duties ever since I was a little girl. And whatever she listened to, I had to listen to.
And my parents had this big love for music. Right from when I was four years old, they would take me on weekends when I was growing up in Toronto for a bit. I would go to Ontario Place on the weekends because they’d have these free concerts, and I saw everyone from, like, Neil Sedaka to Kool & The Gang and The Temptations, you name it.
And my sister one day sat me down when I was six years old and introduced me to Olivia Newton John, God rest her soul, and she’s the reason why I went into wanting to sing and to act. I didn’t necessarily know about musicals, I just knew that I loved to just kind of write and make up tunes in my head and wanted to act in film or TV like her. So that’s what I was bitten so hard since I was a little girl, so it was always wanting to do both both of them.
When I went to drama college in England, after I graduated, I had my first sort of taste of musical there because I’ve never done a musical before. I was in the original cast of Mamma Mia!, and I remember all my classmates just saying, “You’re going to ruin your whole career before it even started because you’re going to do this musical based on ABBA, this is going to be the biggest flop, and you’ve just done Chekhov and Ibsen and you know, and Shakespeare at The Globe, and now you’re going to go do this musical.” And we still have a laugh about it that it yeah, not quite the biggest flop.
But that kind of opened my eyes of really wanting to pursue my music whilst I was in London, and it was then that I got signed to BMG at the time and then embarked on this chapter for a bit of being a recording artist. I learned a lot, a lot about my myself and, you know, music and stuff. And, of course, you know, I think every musician maybe Tyler can relate and loads of other musicians can relate too, and if you’re lucky enough to get signed to a deal and then when a company merges when BMG merged with Sony after having two singles out, I I lost my whole team, and that was a really soul destroying point in my life.
But acting, my agents were so happy. They’re like, “Great, now you can act and have time to do that.” So then the acting kind of took over and got really busy. So now it’s been trying to come back to it. And, you know, certainly on Galavant, I was able to sing, which was so wonderful, with Alan Menken. And then on Fear of the Walking Dead, the same, they kind of infused that with Ruben Blades, which was wonderful. And it’s just been so nice to be able to come and do a movie like this.
TYLER HILTON: They should do Walking Dead: The Musical. They should do that.
KAREN DAVID: We should do an episode with like a thriller section with zombies.
TYLER HILTON: I’d go see the regional touring company of that. That’s amazing.
KAREN DAVID: I like the way you think, love.
But, you know, I’m just with this movie, I just love that music is the core and the heart of this film, and it’s what unifies all of us together, and on top of that, to work with, you know, the family that we’ve had was just a dream. And, yeah, it’s kind of ruined me now. So it’s nice to be back in the studio and recording again. I’m really excited about that.
QUESTION: Hi. Getting back, Tyler, to what we were talking about, you know, did you find it easy to play your role as a music manager being that you are a musician, and were there any challenges that you didn’t expect to face?
TYLER HILTON: You know what? Here’s what I’ll say: I feel like this is one of those, like, rare scripts and one of those rare characters where as you’re reading as I was reading it, it all came it all made sense right away in my brain. It wasn’t even the fact that he was a music manager, it was just I understood the guy. Whether he worked at a car factory or whatever, I just totally understood this guy, whether he was in music or not. And I think that’s definitely a testament to the writing. And it was so funny as well.
And so the vibe I got from him was that he was just kind of this guy that was using, you know, humor and hubris as like a shell, and I just like, I related to it. I, like, felt for this guy. I thought he was funny. I, like, felt for his plight. And it wasn’t weird for me at all. I don’t know the music thing didn’t even really come into it for me as much, it just seemed like a guy who was struggling.
And, in fact, like, I was trying I think knowing a lot about music would have been a detriment, you know, if I think part of his thing is he knows talent, he knows, like, feeling, he gets a vibe. And I’ve met so many people like that, that are so successful in the industry, can’t sing or play a note but just can identify a vibe, a feeling. A lot of us are like that, you know. I mean, I play, so I don’t have that, but but anyway, I just I just really connected with him, which was funny and is the best thing that you can do, I feel like, when you’re acting. And the most surprising and wonderful thing too is, like, finding that you relate so much to somebody that has nothing to do with your life experience. But I just got him, you know?
QUESTION: Robert, what made you want to write this film?
ROBERT TATE MILLER: Well, I love a good love story, and I love music, and it just sort of just the title came to me first, to be honest. I thought, I got to build a story around this title. And then I thought, Well, let’s make it a song title. And I thought it’s kind of unique that a Christmas movie is centered around a song, an original song. And so that appealed to me. It was different than anything I’d ever done. The story came quickly, although it was a couple years of revisions and notes. I believed in it from the beginning and knew it was going to go all the way. I just wanted to make a good Christmas love story, to be honest.
QUESTION: Karen, this question is for you. And please understand it’s coming from somebody who cannot either sing nor act. But I’m curious, to me, as a singer, it’s the world asking you to strip yourself down to your heart and soul and put that out there to an audience. When you’re acting, you’re told to put on a different face and not show your true self. Does it feel that way to you, or is it all just part of your artistic soul coming through just in different formats?
KAREN DAVID: Thank you, Rick. All these questions are so good.
You know, I think, again, as Tyler said, speaking to the writing of what Rob created with this with this film and this story, there is just I can’t explain this inexplicable sort of symbiosis between, you know, Melody and all the characters too. I just it just felt so me. It touched upon when I read the script, I got so excited because it was nostalgia for me. It just took me back to my singer songwriter days and what that was like even starting out and, you know, doing the slog and fighting the good fight of trying to go through those struggles that you do when you’re first starting out. And it just it just brought me back to that place.
And I remember it so well as if it was yesterday. I just felt this connection so deeply with Melody, and I knew it was something I had to do. It felt easy for me because of not only Rob’s writing but also working with someone like Tyler. I mean, I keep telling Tyler this: He’s such a magical scene partner, he was so supportive and just elevated every scene and brought the best out in me.
And our director, Monika Monika Mitchell, who’s just a force of nature, I’m sure all of us will say this, you know: She’s a really, really special soul, and being on this journey with her just made everything easy and seamless and so cohesive. So I’m really grateful I’m really grateful to have done this with these guys. They made my job so much easier.
QUESTION: I have one for Robert and then one for Tyler too.
But, Robert, what are the musts that you have to have in a Christmas movie?
And, Tyler, you’ve done several. What why is that? Is there a thing about you and Christmas?
TYLER HILTON: Yes. I am Santa.
No, I’ll let you go first, Robert.
ROBERT TATE MILLER: I think the musts, you’ve got to have a good solid story with conflict, you’ve got to find a way to bring them together and split them up, you’ve got to have try to have a unique story that hasn’t I mean, I’ve written a number of Christmas movies, and I wanted this one to be something that really hadn’t been done before. I felt like we accomplished that.
You need snow, and you need a nice small town, usually. You just need a really good solid heart warming story that people can identify with and relate to. And you need to have them solve everything by the end, in the final act.
This is my favorite of the ones I’ve done, and I really, really mean that. I’ve done a number of movies. This is definitely number one, the best experience I had.
TYLER HILTON: That’s so cool. You know what I also like about my favorite part of Christmas movies that you put in this one is somebody who’s not really in the Christmas spirit.
ROBERT TATE MILLER: You’re right.
TYLER HILTON: I like that.
KAREN DAVID: There’s a lot of (inaudible) moments, a lot of funny moments on set.
TYLER HILTON: Yeah. And, no, I don’t know I don’t know why I’ve done so many, but they I don’t I just like to do things that are fun to do, and every one has been either with friends or people that I’ve kind of worked with before, and the same was true with this one. I’d worked with Monika Mitchell, the director, before, and I think she’s very cool, and she sent me the script. And I would have done it I probably either way just to hang out with her, and then I read the script, and I was totally blown away. I don’t mean any disrespect to any other holiday movies or whatever, but I told my wife, I was like, “Oh, my God, this movie is so good, this is like a real movie,” you know? And, I mean, it’s not just a holiday movie, a genre movie, like, it’s a good movie. I really was touched when I read it.
You know, I think the thing that gets me the most about this one is it’s not just whatever, like a holiday thing, it’s like this guy in particular is at this point in his life we’ve all been, and I’ve definitely been there recently where you’re kind of playing this game, you know, the way you keep scoring your life is one way, and he was kind of using a certain metric of success to keep score, and you hit the ceiling where you realize, This is as far as I can take this personally, emotionally. And then what? How do you pivot when you’re that far into your career, when you’re that old? Pivot mentally, pivot emotionally, pivot back to who you actually might be instead of the image you had for yourself as a puffed up, you know, early 20s or something. And I think this guy, you explored all that in a holiday movie or whatever. But I was super touched by it. So I would have done it regardless, if it was a if it was like an action film, you know, and it was like but I just love this movie.
QUESTION: You’ve heard a lot of comments, a previous one about Christmas movies. We’ve heard a lot of comments about this feels like a real movie, these feel more like real people, it doesn’t feel like a formula. And obviously millions of people love the current rom com Christmas formula. But I’ve always thought it’s possible to tell a real story with real emotional content and a grounded story line within the context of a Christmas movie. So do you think you achieved that, and how how did you go about achieving that while still leaving in all the things that people love about a classic Christmas rom com?
KAREN DAVID: We were just talking about that, and having just watched the screener, is that I think one thing that really touched our hearts deeply is just how grounded and how genuine and accessible, you know, this the tone of this whole movie is, which I think just speaks to what Rob and Monika have created and our producers too and Tyler and the whole gang.
I know Tyler and I did a lot of hanging out and, like, you know, just bonding. I think, you know, you never know what it’s going to be like when you meet your scene partner for the first time, and I remember when Tyler and I flew in, we were both so tired from our journeys. And as soon as I met Tyler, it was just as if I had known him all my life. We didn’t know that we were going into a table read right away with everyone, but yet just everything fit, everything fit seamlessly together. And I think that’s because of, you know, who Tyler is, who Rob is, who Monika is, Tom, everyone involved.
But I just love that this is this does feel real, and that’s something that was really, I know, important to all of us, to create something that especially, you know, coming off the back of the pandemic and everything, something that really just makes you feel good but in such a grounded and very genuine way.
TYLER HILTON: Yeah. I agree. I feel like I feel, like, the same way. We had so much in common right away, I thought, Oh, this is such a relief. And I also feel like in some projects that really work, there is an element of everyone showing off for each other a little bit. Like, the opposite of that is phoning it in. And, like, I think I can speak to me, but, like, with Sheryl Crow being involved with Karen, right away, I was like, Oh, my gosh, she’s so talented, so pro, so much experience. Rob, Monika. I was like I don’t know, like, I wanted to be I wanted it to be good. I love the script, and there’s just an element of like “Let’s do this” in every moment, you know? And I felt that from everyone. Like, every day of this film, I felt I didn’t feel anyone was phoning it in or just, like, doing another Christmas film. Everyone was into it and trying to make this real, which sounds cheesy, and I’m sure, like, everyone’s saying that about their movies, but I’m serious. I’m not lying. But it really was, you know?
KAREN DAVID: Everyone was cheering for each other.
TYLER HILTON: Yeah.
KAREN DAVID: Very much so, every day. And my God, the laughs we had on set. Guys, I mean, the pie scene in the beginning, we were just talking about it, how we were laughing so much. If you guys could see the blooper reel of how many times there’s a reason why I’m wearing that apron.
TYLER HILTON: Oh, my God.
KAREN DAVID: Tyler with the whipped cream can.
TYLER HILTON: Yeah. They got this fancy whipped cream canister for me, and I was like, Oh, this is going to be great, and every take I did, it exploded all over her blouse. So there was like white whipped cream everywhere, we’d have to reset. It happened so many times, I felt horrible.
KAREN DAVID: It went on you first, and then the whole camera crew, and then it went onto my blouse. And they were like, “Oh, dear.” So then the apron went on, and we were trying not to laugh. That was really tough during that
TYLER HILTON: We also ate a lot of pie in the movie, so maybe that’s why we were so excited because we were on a sugar high the whole time. Lots of pie in the movie.
QUESTION: Maybe Robert could address this also, about making it more grounded, more real, more grown up, if you will.
ROBERT TATE MILLER: Yeah. I mean, whenever I came up to a point where a cliche was easy to go, I went the other direction and just said, “I want to do something different, I don’t want to go down that road.”
And the producers and CBS were so supportive of just trying to make this a little more real, and I think it kind of just shines it shines through. I think you’ll see it when you watch the screener. It was just a desire not to go down the road I’d gone down a number of times before and to consciously resist that and create something original and new and different. And our incredible cast brought it to life, and I couldn’t I was on set for a good bit of it. It was just like a writer’s dream, being there, to see it all come to life. I think we pulled it off. I think you can be a judge for yourself when you watch the screener, though.
ERIN FREILICH: Thanks, Robert.
And thank you to all of our panelists and to all of you for joining today. I’m going to throw it back to Robert for some final thoughts.
ROBERT TATE MILLER: Thanks all you guys for being here. This is so much fun for me and such a thrill. I love this project. It was a couple years in the making. The first time I saw Karen and Tyler in the table read, within 30 seconds, I thought, We’ve got the right people. Their chemistry was immediate. I was so thrilled after that table read. I hadn’t met them yet, but I knew they were right. They really drive this movie and make you fall in love with this world, I hope, and with their characters and their story.
So thank you for being here and being a part of this, and thank you for your great questions, and I hope you love the movie.
A headstrong music manager (Tyler Hilton) in desperate need of a hit song for his last remaining client finds himself falling for a gifted singer-songwriter (Karen David) with abandoned dreams of making it big, as he attempts to secure the rights to a Christmas song she wrote years ago. Features original music by Sheryl Crow, who also executive produces.
CBS ORDERS THREE NEW ORIGINAL HOLIDAY MOVIES FOR 2022
Award-Winning Musician Sheryl Crow to Executive Produce and
Write the Title Song for “When Christmas Was Young”
“The Talk’s” Amanda Kloots to Star in and Executive Produce “Fit for Christmas”
Prolific Holiday Film Writer and Producer Mark Amato to Pen
“Must Love Christmas”
CBS announced today that it has ordered three new original holiday movies to air in December 2022.
Award-winning singer-songwriter Sheryl Crow will executive produce and write the title song for WHEN CHRISTMAS WAS YOUNG, a Nashville music-themed movie from a script by screenwriter and bestselling novelist Robert Tate Miller (“Hope at Christmas,” Forever Christmas). The story follows a headstrong music manager in desperate need of a hit song for his last remaining client, who finds himself falling for a gifted singer-songwriter with abandoned dreams of making it big, as he attempts to secure the rights to a Christmas song she wrote years ago. Tom Mazza, David Calvert-Jones and Karen Glass (Everywhere Studios) will executive produce, together with executive producers Shawn Williamson and Jamie Goehring for Lighthouse Pictures.
THE TALK’s Amanda Kloots will star in and executive produce FIT FOR CHRISTMAS from writer and executive producer Anna White (“Christmas Wonderland”), the tale of Audrey, an enthusiastic Christmas-obsessed fitness instructor at a beloved, financially beleaguered community center in quaint Mistletoe, Mont., who begins a holiday romance with a charming, mysterious businessman, complicating his plans to turn the center into a more financially profitable resort property. The movie will be produced by Brad Krevoy’s Motion Picture Corporation of America.
Mark Amato, who has created a dozen holiday-themed films, including last season’s CBS Original movie A CHRISTMAS PROPOSAL, as well as “A Kiss Before Christmas,” is writing MUST LOVE CHRISTMAS. In it, a renowned romance novelist famous for her Christmas-themed books finds herself snowbound in the charming town of Cranberry Falls, where she unexpectedly becomes involved in a love triangle between her childhood crush and a reporter determined to interview her to save his dying magazine. The movie will be produced by Brad Krevoy’s Motion Picture Corporation of America.
In December 2021, the CBS Original movies “Christmas Takes Flight” and “A Christmas Proposal” were the first original holiday television movies to air on CBS since 2012, and the newest additions to CBS’ longstanding holiday programming slate, which includes family-favorites like The Thanksgiving Day Parade on CBS and the annual broadcasts of beloved animated classics, including “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” and “Frosty the Snowman.”
Proofread and Edited by Brenda