Interview with Karen David, Tyler Hilton and Robert Tate Miller

TV Interview!

Karen David and Tyler Hilton in "When Christmas Was Young" on CBS

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
Karen David
Tyler Hilton
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.

MORE INFO:

Karen David and Tyler Hilton in "When Christmas Was Young" on CBS

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

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Karen David and Tyler Hilton in "When Christmas Was Young" on CBS

Interview with Liza Lapira, Neal Bledsoe, Nathan Witte and Mark Amato

TV Interview!

Liza Lapira, Neal Bledsoe, Nathan Witte and Mark Amato of "Must Love Christmas" on CBS

Interview with Liza Lapira, Neal Bledsoe, Nathan Witte and Mark Amato of “Must Love Christmas” on CBS by Suzanne 11/3/22

This is a cute little Christmas movie. I’d never seen Neal Bledsoe before, but he reminds me of one of my favorite actors, Dan Stevens. Liza Lapira has been on many TV shows I’ve watched, such as NCIS, so it’s nice to see her starring in this. She does a great job as a stressed-out romance novelist. I’ve chatted with Nathan Witte before, and he is truly great in this role as Liza’s past boyfriend. The plot sounds a bit like your standard Christmas movie, but it has a nice twist. Mark Amato, the writer of this film, has written many Christmas movies before, so he knows how to take the formula and tweak it a bit.

Enjoy the transcript of this panel! I’m asking question #3…I mispronounced Liza’s name, but she was super nice about it.

CBS 2022 HOLIDAY PROGRAMMING PANELS

 MUST LOVE CHRISTMAS

 Liza Lapira

Neal Bledsoe

Nathan Witte

Mark Amato, Writer

Virtual via Zoom

November 03, 2022

© 2022 CBS.  All rights reserved.

NOELLE LEWELLYN:  Hi, everyone.  I’m Noelle Lewellyn and on behalf of myself and my counterpart, Eric Freilich, we’d like to welcome you to the panel for our CBS original movie, Must Love Christmas.  We will be presenting you with festive panels today for all three of this year’s holiday films.

“Must Love Christmas” premieres Sunday, December 11 on CBS and will be available to stream live and on demand with Paramount+, and the movie stars CBS’s very own Liza Lapira of our hit drama series “The Equalizer.”

The movie is a charming holiday tale in which Liza plays Natalie, a Christmas romance writer who becomes involved in a love triangle and finds inspiration, both personal and professional.

I would like to welcome our panelists, Liza Lapira who plays Natalie.  Our movie screen writer, Mark Amato.  Neal Bledsoe, who plays Nick, and Nathan Witte, who plays Caleb.  And I think I spoil nothing by saying Nick and Caleb are Christmas contenders for Natalie’s heart.

Before I hand the virtual mic over to Mark for some opening words, just a reminder that if you’d like to ask 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.

Now over to Mark.  Mark, if you’d like to say a few words.

MARK AMATO:  Yes, thanks.  Writer’s block is a crippling disorder that haunts every writer, present company included.  Even with dozens of Christmas movies that are under my belt, you sit at a computer and the words aren’t coming.  Or worse, they’re coming, just not any good.

So just a plug for our movie Must Love Christmas.  Natalie Wolf is America’s reigning queen of Christmas romance.  Her novels have earned her legions of fans so much so that our hopeless, hopeless romantic rarely leaves her New York apartment these days.

Until, that is, our recluse finds herself in the cross‑hairs between a horrible case of writer’s block and a looming Christmas deadline.  So to shake things up, she takes a tiny step out of her comfort zone for a quick road trip to Buffalo, the town that inspired her very first Christmas novel.  But when a freak snowstorm leaves her stranded on the side of the road, Natalie’s world is about to turn upside down when the tow truck driver, who comes to her rescue, happens to be her very first high school crush, an inspiration to the lead character in one of her novels.

Stuck in an idyllic small town that looks ripped from the pages of a Natalie Wolf classic is where fiction and real life collide, but if Natalie is brave enough to take a leap of faith, turn the page, she just might find her own happily ever after.

QUESTION #1:  Thanks, Noelle.  Nice attire today, by the way.  (She was wearing a VERY festive Christmas sweater!)

Liza, my question is for you, actually two questions.  Number one, is there something very particular in your mind about being a lead in a Christmas movie specifically.  And, number two, I don’t know if there’s also an “Equalizer” episode that night, but if there is, do you get a kick out of the idea that that will lead into this?

LIZA LAPIRA:  I do.  I’ll take the second one first because that’s first and foremost in my mind.  I am really excited for viewers to see me play one vastly different thing one week and then ‑‑ I don’t know ‑‑ couple weeks later or the next week to see this just 180 in terms of a personality shift.

Yeah, this character is ‑‑ Mel, the character I play on “The Equalizer,” is much more self‑assured, to put it mildly, and much more aggressive than Natalie in this movie so that ‑‑ I get a kick out of that.

And then, yeah, it’s really special for me to be the protagonist in this kind of movie because I’ve been a fan for so long.  And, you know, on a separate note, it’s special for me to be a protagonist in something. When growing up I didn’t see many protagonists that look like me so this has just been a doubly wonderful, wonderful thing for me to be a part of.

QUESTION:  Thank you.

QUESTION #2:  Mark, you have a lot in common with the character.  I mean, you write books and you write movies, but it’s the same thing.  So I was wondering, do you sometimes feel that same thing of falling into a trap, you don’t want to have the guy saying my candy coated dreams, things like that.

What are the things you want to avoid when you’re doing a movie and what are the things you’re really trying to have?

MARK AMATO:  The truth is it’s sort of like ‑‑ there are so many tropes that you have to kind of sort of like find a way to recycle and I don’t want to recycle.  So sort of like, you know, I always get like my critics would say, you know how it’s going to end, sort of in the royal matchmaker.  You see two characters.  We know they’re going to be together in the end.  I said but do you know how.  You don’t know how.

So the last act right before you come back, I guarantee no one is going to be able to predict the ending, and for me that becomes the biggest challenge because if I get to a situation where it feels a little too comfortable and a little too easy, I haven’t tested myself so each one I hope to get better and better.

QUESTION:  Cool.  Thanks.

QUESTION #3:  Hi, yeah.  It’s great to talk to you guys.  My question is for Liza.  What is your favorite holiday?  We know what your character’s favorite holiday is, obviously.

LIZA LAPIRA:  Yeah, it’s Liza.  It’s Lisa with a Z.

QUESTION:  I’m sorry.  I’m sorry.

LIZA LAPIRA:  No, everybody ‑‑ I’m sorry.  My mom couldn’t figure out Ss.  It’s a whole thing I have with Mrs. Lapira.  It has nothing to do with you.

But, yeah, I’m in line with Natalie.  Christmas is pretty much up there.  It’s a time for family.  I come from a very, very big one and it’s the one holiday of the year that we all make the trek to, you know, the main home and congregate and eat and drink and eat and eat.  Lots of eating.

QUESTION:  Thank you.

QUESTION #4:  Yes.  Thank you.  It’s a question for both Mark and Liza.  One of the main stakes of these kind of movies, two of the main stakes are the meet cute and then the final decision, the kiss or whatever it is.

And, Mark, in your case of writing that, which one is harder to do to make sure you don’t fall into the tropes?

And, Liza, which one of those is easier to play and which one is more difficult?

MARK AMATO:  It’s interesting because it’s sort of like in my mind I know what I need to do so it’s sort of I kind of reverse engineer.  I go to the first place where they meet.  I think okay, well, how am I going to dove that tail to the middle and end, and that ending ‑‑ that ending completely predicts or dictates to me how I’m going to get these two characters to clash.

And the way I describe it is the two characters, they really are sort of like better if you squeeze them two together they make one really, really good character so that’s how I create sort of like that meet cute.

Liza, take it.

LIZA LAPIRA:  Okay.  Meet cute versus the end ‑‑ well, if the actors I’m working with and the scripture working with and the director you’re working with is great, then they’re both pretty easy and both pretty fun to play.

For this movie in particular, I enjoyed ‑‑ I had two meet cutes.  I enjoyed both of them immensely.  Yeah.  I like ‑‑ I always enjoy a meet cute.  You know I got ‑‑ I got both kinds of meet cute.  I got the meet cute with the high school crush, the guy in my dreams that I haven’t seen in forever, the unrequited love re‑meeting meet cute, and then I got the antagonistic banter witty meet cute so I’m thoroughly spoiled by this movie.  Thanks, Mark, and Neal and Nick.

Liza Lapira and Neal Bledsoe in "Must Love Christmas" on CBS

QUESTION #5:  Hi.  Thanks for doing this.  Question for Mark, but also for anybody who wants to answer.  I was curious to know if the concept of a novelist who strictly writes Christmas romance, if there was anyone in particular that inspired that?

And if any of you have a favorite romance writer who does primarily holiday fare.

MARK AMATO:  I can’t believe anybody wants to talk to me.  I’m just the writer.  But certainly the inspiration for this movie for me was “Romancing the Stone.”  You know are you Joan Wilder, the Joan Wilder, and my version for this was sort of like, if you had somebody who was so completely introverted, who’s just lived in her novels and the occupational hazard that that would create.  And then put them into essentially a world where, wait a minute, you’re living out the fantasies that you create and that’s what happens with Liza’s character.

And I really would like Neal to talk for five seconds at least because you create that ‑‑ the opposite side of the meet cute because it really is sort of like a love triangle.  So how is that to play?

NEAL BLEDSOE:  Fantastic.  I guess that would be the meet ugly that we — our meet is anything but cute, but the good news is that we have nowhere to go but up from there.  It’s definitely for the holiday romance films that I’ve done it’s definitely a different way to meet a leading lady, but I think it makes the payoff at the end that much more wonderful and unexpected.

LIZA LAPIRA:  I agree with Neal.  I loved ‑‑ the thing I loved about our romance, without giving too much away or giving it all away, you guys won’t say anything, is the ‑‑ you know after the sort of antagonistic meet the audience gets to see a friendship develop and then it blossoms into a romance and I really enjoyed that.

You know both these characters, I thought about it, both of the leading men in the love triangle helped this character grow just as friends.  She confronts like a traumatic thing that happened years before this movie takes place and she gets to not only confront it, but step out of the shell that she’s been living in and ‑‑ and leap ‑‑ leap into her life as an active participant.

The other thing I’ll say, Mark, is that you said I was playing you at the ‑‑ we had a pre‑meet before I signed on and he said, yeah, all she does is write Christmas romance novels.  Basically you’re playing me.  And I said, sir, it is my honor and my privilege to be you.

MARK AMATO:  Thank you so much.  It’s the truth though only I’m super extroverted so I’m not afraid of getting out of my shell.  But, yeah, you totally were.  I mean, this is what I do all day.  And every time I do, it’s sort of like, okay, I finished this one.  There’s not another Christmas movie to be told.  Hey, wait a minute, what if.  So thank you.

LIZA LAPIRA:  And the other thing I’ll say is to speak to Mark’s point, she did ‑‑ she is an introvert and it’s for a reason and it’s crafted in the script so it was fun to play and relatively easy to play someone who had like a humiliating public social mediaish thing happen and kind of be traumatized by that in a little way, and that’s so relatable now because, I mean, I feel like that happens every five seconds someone is embarrassed by something they say and then have to get over that trauma, and but not everybody has two handsome guys to help them get through that trauma so that was worth it.

QUESTION #6:  Yeah.  Liza, do you remember when it first occurred to you that you wanted to be an actress and what did your parents say?

LIZA LAPIRA:  It was a circuitous route because I came out of the womb singing.  I was like the 3‑year‑old that mom would pick up on the counter and be like entertain and so I was just singing and dancing, and then I thought that that’s what I was going to do so I started doing musicals.  And then I thought, you know, then I started wanting to do plays without music.  I wanted to do straight plays and then it segued into film and TV.

Funnily enough, I think my parents — with the singing, because it was so obvious, they were along those lines. “And get your law degree too, Liza. But clearly you have some ability there, so do that.”  Acting was a bit of a shock and they eventually ‑‑ they came around in their own ways.  They were never not supportive.  If anything, they were just fearful.

And I think for dad it was ‑‑ it was NCIS that he was like, all right, my girl.  Like re‑runs to this day and he’s like, yep, that’s my girl.  And I think mom I physically, physically had to take her to sets for her to see and she was like, oh, okay this is a job, not only is this a job, it’s a good job and it’s a job with an army of people.  Like it’s not just you and a camcorder.  It’s like an army.  It’s like a team and you’re all a team creating this thing, and that really crystallized it for her so now we’re one big happy family.

NOELLE LEWELLYN:  Thank you.  Thank you both. “NCIS,” saving families nationwide globally.  Actually, I have a question for Neal and Nathan.  The both of you are pros at this genre.  I’m just wondering, how is it ‑‑ how was the experience of filming Must Love Christmas and was it different?  How was it different in any way from your previous projects knowing that you guys have done some of these before?

NATHAN WITTE:  Yeah, sure.  I’ll just tip my hat to Mark, of course.  It’s always the script that reels me in right away, and what I loved about this script is ‑‑ that’s kind of contrary to a lot of other Christmas scripts that I’ve done is that this meet cute that’s happening in this love triangle it just ‑‑ it feels like it happens around Christmas as opposed to like we’re going to do Christmas and shove this ‑‑ this triangle into Christmas.

What I find in a lot of scripts, they’re just — every scene it’s like we got to just let everybody know that we’re doing Christmas in this movie, and every scene you’ve got bells, mistletoes, shirts and sweaters, and everything, cookies. And what I loved about this script is that it was much more nuanced and had its moments of subtlety, but then it had its moments of grandeur Christmas, which I think it allowed to bring up that — Christmas in those moments and make it a lot more special.

And I love the nuance between my character and Neal’s character going after Liza’s character because it really reminded me of ‑‑ I don’t know if anyone else has seen it, but “This Means War,” and I found that to ‑‑ is one of like my favorite romantic comedies and I just tipped that one right next to that just with the sprinkle of Christmas on it so I had a tremendous amount of fun with Neal and Liza.

NEAL BLEDSOE:  That’s well put.  I think for me, and I just watched the film actually last night, and it was the first time coming back to it since we shot it and I think the thing that stuck out for me the most was that this really allowed the people themselves to be real and the obstacles that they were overcoming to be real, and so often in the Christmas film landscape the problems of the people are eroded away to absolutely nothing.  They don’t have any obstacle to overcome.  It’s just like oh my god, I do love Christmas, wow.  And there’s no ‑‑ there’s no hurdle to overcome so I think there’s no ‑‑ and therefore there’s no catharsis to ‑‑ for these people to learn any lesson and so it feels, in other words, in many of these things that I’ve done it feels that the force ‑‑ the plot has been forced upon them rather than these characters coming to these realizations themselves.

And to kind of go back to something that Liza said, which is that these characters all teach something to each other and because of that there’s this extraordinary human web in this film that at first blush you’re like how are we going to make this work, but it really is that all of these characters are working in triplicate to really feed off one another and therefore they come across as so utterly human in a way that I don’t think I’ve seen in pretty much any other Christmas film that I’ve been in.  And that’s fine.  I think that’s the genre of those other networks and those other films, but this really felt like the most human of Christmas films I’ve done.

NOELLE LEWELLYN:  Thank you, both.  That’s really great to hear about that it feels more human and hear about that nuance.  We appreciate that.

QUESTION #7:  Absolutely.  This is for Nathan, Liza, and for Neal.  When you go back to where you came from, sometimes the things that you thought were special turn out to be not so special, if ‑‑ if you get my nuance here.

When you have a childhood crush or a teen crush or whatever and you go back and you meet that person let’s say at a high school reunion, they are never what you thought they were.  And this is not saying anything against you, Nathan, or the character that you play, but ‑‑ but what has that experience been like for you and what did you ‑‑ what informed the character that you played in this?

NATHAN WITTE:  For myself, this — I feel like that Caleb and Natalie didn’t really get to connect back in high school and I feel like Natalie remembered Caleb more than Caleb remembered Natalie.  And for Caleb, Natalie turned out better than, in his mind, what she was back in high school and I think that was in part because he’s ‑‑ he was totally enthralled in the school popularity and sports and ‑‑ and going after any chick that was kind of willing to put themselves in his way, and it was kind of the recognition of Natalie coming back again.  It was like a refresher, a nice reminder because Caleb going through his difficulties and being in a small town. And if anyone knows what it’s like being in a small town there’s not much of a selection. And so having somebody that is not only way better than you thought she would have turned out to be come back into town, it’s kind of like a refresher, almost like opening up a brand-new present.  And I think it was a little too far ahead for Caleb because he’s still dealing with a little bit of his adolescence that kind of gets in the way.

QUESTION:  Liza.

LIZA LAPIRA:  Yeah, Caleb to me is this shiny, glittering illusion.  You know there’s ‑‑ there’s ‑‑ her projection and I don’t even think he plays into it because that sounds manipulative.  I think he’s just a charming guy.  I’ve got guys like this in my family and he’s just a charming guy and he is who he is.  Like even at the end of the movie you don’t hate him.  He’s just that guy that does that thing and he has his own love story and has his own, you know, he has his own life.

But as far as going back, I think in high school Caleb probably was the same in that he’s just this charming illusion, this dream guy, and he’s going to live his life and have fun.  And I think the only difference between the Natalie/Caleb dynamic or, I should say, Natalie’s relationship to Caleb in high school and in present day is she has more access now.  They were close as friends back then and, you know, of course she’s had success in her career.  They’ve lived and had their careers and their lives, and now she has access and agency and so she can see that illusion up close. And, unfortunately, she doesn’t until, you know, she gets the help of her new friend, played by Neal.

QUESTION:  And Neal.

NEAL BLEDSOE:  Well, Howard, if I understood your question right, part of it is about what ‑‑ when we get what we wanted when we were children, when we get that as adults, how is that payoff different.  Do I have that right?

QUESTION:  Absolutely.

NEAL BLEDSOE:  So I think that’s a really insightful question.  Thank you for asking it.  I think that would ‑‑ that certainly plays itself out in ‑‑ in their love ‑‑ in their love story and what happens to this thing.  Do we find it as valuable, in other words, as adults as we did as children and I think that that is such a profound question.  It’s something that I could ask myself about acting.  It’s something I could ask myself about really kind of anything because who we were as children and why we needed those things that we thought would make our lives complete or thought we would make us the best version of ourselves, those things inevitably change as we become older and if they don’t that speaks to a certainly kind of regression of who we are as adults.

So, yeah, of course.  And I think in attaining those things that we so desperately wanted as kids, once we get them as adults we’re allowed to re‑examine them and say like, wow, this actually doesn’t matter as much and I am ‑‑ I am whole without this thing.  They become totems and the totems then perhaps become illusions.

QUESTION:  Very well spoken.  Yes, very, very good.

NOELLE LEWELLYN:  Thank you, all.  Thank you, Howard.  And that is actually the time we have for today.  I would love to thank all of our panelists and all of you for joining.  We are really grateful.  And we are going to say goodbye with Liza who has a few final thoughts.

LIZA LAPIRA:  Okay.  Oh, I see me.  I don’t want to see me.  Telling myself.  Everybody, I’m just ‑‑ thank you for being here.  I hope you guys enjoy the movie.  I hope you see it.  I can’t wait.  It’s a joyous, fun ride and there’s some sweet relationships in it and I ‑‑ I can’t wait to hear what everybody thinks.

And on a personal note, it has just been a career highlight and a thrill to lead one of these movies.  As I said, I’m a big fan of this genre and ‑‑ and, as I said, again, it’s been a thrill to be a protagonist, period, but then a protagonist in this great story. And coming from someone who didn’t see many protagonists growing up, this has just been an embarrassment of riches.  And the fun that the cast and I and the crew and the collaborative nature of making this is apparent on screen, and I am ‑‑ I’m very, very proud of that. And I hope you all enjoy it.

NOELLE LEWELLYN:  Thank you, Liza.  We really appreciate that.  Thank you, everyone.  Please stay tuned.  Our panel for the CBS original movie “When Christmas Was Young” is up next.

MORE INFO:

"Must Love Christmas" key art

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

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Liza Lapira and Nathan Witte in "Must Love Christmas" on CBS

Interview with Amanda Kloots, Paul Greene, Rebecca Budig, director/producer Jessica Harmon, and writer/producer Anna White

TV Interview!

Panel for "Fit for Christmas" on CBS with Actors Amanda Kloots, Paul Greene, Rebecca Budig, director/producer Jessica Harmon, and writer/producer Anna White (all photos from CBS)

 

Interview with Actors Amanda Kloots, Paul Greene, Rebecca Budig, director/producer Jessica Harmon, and writer/producer Anna White of “Fit For Christmas” on CBS by Suzanne 11/3/22

This is a typical holiday movie, but I most enjoyed seeing Rebecca Budig in it (even though it’s a fairly small part) and being able to chat with her. It airs Sunday, 12/4 on CBS.

Here is the transcript of our interview:

CBS 2022 HOLIDAY PROGRAMMING PANELS

FIT FOR CHRISTMAS

Amanda Kloots, Executive Producer/Star

 Paul Greene

Rebecca Budig

Jessica Harmon, Director/Executive Producer

Anna White, Executive Producer/Writer

Virtual via Zoom

November 03, 2022

© 2022 CBS.  All rights reserved.

NOELLE LLEWELLYN:  Hi, everyone.  I’m back.  I’m Noelle Llewellyn.  And on behalf of myself and my counterpart, Erin Freilich, we’d like to welcome you to our final panel of the day for our CBS original movie, “Fit for Christmas.”

Amanda Kloots, cohost of our Emmy-award-winning daytime talk show, “The Talk,” wears many Christmas hats for this film, both in front of and behind the camera.  In addition to starring as Audrey, Amanda developed the movie, cowrote the film concept, and serves as an executive producer of the film.  “Fit for Christmas” premieres Sunday, December 4th, on CBS and will be available to stream live and on demand on PARAMOUNT+.

“Fit for Christmas” follows Audrey, an enthusiastic, Christmas‑obsessed fitness instructor teaching classes at her beloved, financially beleaguered community center in quaint Mistletoe, Montana.  Audrey begins a holiday romance with a charming mysterious businessman, which complicates his plans to turn the center into a more profitable resort property.  That’s what I call a Christmas conundrum.  Sorry.  Had to do it.

I would like to welcome our panelists today, Amanda Kloots; Paul Green, who plays Griffin; Rebecca Budig, who plays Lisa; our movie screenwriter and executive producer, Anna White; and our movie director and executive producer, Jessica Harmon.

Before I have Amanda kick things off with a few opening remarks, just a reminder that, 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 is your turn.  Now over to Amanda, who would like to say a few words.

AMANDA KLOOTS:  There we go.  Thanks, Noelle.  By the way, Noelle, I need that sweater.  That’s amazing.  You look incredible.

NOELLE LLEWELLYN:  Done.  In the Amazon cart.

AMANDA KLOOTS:  I just want to thank everyone for being here today.  I want to thank my incredible cast and Anna and our director, Jessica.  This has been an absolute dream come true for me.  I can’t still believe that it happened.  And it was a lot of fun to film.  And I’m so excited for everybody to see it.  Thank you for watching and thank you for being here.  And let’s get this ball rolling.

NOELLE LLEWELLYN:  Okay.  Let’s hop right in.

QUESTION:  Thank you, Noelle.  I’ve got two for Amanda.  Hi, Amanda.  Hi, everybody.

AMANDA KLOOTS:  Hi.

QUESTION:  Hi.  First of all, I know when you talked about this first on “The Talk,” I think it was in early fall, so can I assume that you filmed this during a break from “The Talk,” during a hiatus during the summer?

AMANDA KLOOTS:  That is correct, Jay.  We went on hiatus in August, and I pretty much flew a couple days later off to Vancouver to shoot the film on my hiatus, finished the movie, came back, and started Season 13 of “The Talk.”  No rest.

QUESTION:  For the weary.  Sure.

The other question, I spoke with somebody else who wrote a movie they starred in recently for the holidays.  It’s one thing to star in a holiday movie, but to see characters and perhaps dialogue ‑‑ I know you cowrote it with Anna, but to see words and characters come to life that you developed, not only for yourself but other actors, can you talk about that feeling, being on set and observing that?

AMANDA KLOOTS:  Absolutely.  I didn’t cowrite the movie.  Anna is the writer of the movie, Anna White.  I co-created the idea and, you know, definitely helped, you know, conceptualize the entire movie, right up until we were filming.  And it was amazing.  I have to tell you there was a day on set ‑‑ I’ll never forget it ‑‑ it was ‑‑ we were filming at the Mistletoe Inn.  And I just ‑‑ it was so perfectly Christmas.  And I looked around and I just ‑‑ I couldn’t believe it was happening.  I literally pinched myself because I remember being in my bed in July of 2020 thinking of this idea at 3:00 a.m. in the morning and then having it come to life, and it was just so beautiful.  The set that day where we were filming, it was so gorgeous.  And I think it was like right in the middle of filming, so the cast had really bonded, and we were all just, like, really gelling that day.  And it just felt like magic, literal Christmas magic.

QUESTION:  Thank you.  Anna, sorry about that misstep about the writing.  I’m sorry about that.

QUESTION:  Amanda, this is for you.  When you were dancing on Broadway, did you say, “Oh, I want to be a producer some day and I want to star in a show that I’ve influenced”?  Or was that just ‑‑ was it just in an evolution?  And where did “The Talk” play in all of that evolution?

AMANDA KLOOTS:  Oh, my gosh.  It was a complete evolution, Bruce.  I can’t believe what I’m doing right now.  I think ‑‑ when I look at my life and how much has changed, especially in the last three years, I mean, just ‑‑ I moved to LA three years ago, and I ‑‑ my sole job was my fitness business.  And since then, in those three years, even just since joining “The Talk,” my life has completely changed.

And I can’t believe what I get to do now.  I can’t believe that, you know, CBS, they were so generous in taking a chance on me and this concept and allowing this to come to fruition.  I’m so entirely grateful to them for doing this with me and having faith that I can act and that I can executive produce and create something.  It’s amazing.  I just am constantly, I think, blown away by the idea of how life can change and how it can change so quickly and how dreams can come true.

QUESTION:  That’s great.  Thanks so much.

AMANDA KLOOTS:  Yeah.

QUESTION:  Hi, everybody.  This is for Amanda as well, and then I have a question for Paul.  Amanda, what was it like working with Anna White?  Can you talk about that?

AMANDA KLOOTS:  Yes.  I feel like I have met my creative soulmate with Anna White.  I could not feel like a luckier human being.  She is just the brightest light.  She is so funny, consistently creative, and on top of every idea and pun and concept.  We met through a friend, a new friend of mine and an acquaintance of hers.  Thank God this woman put us together.  And ever since we chatted on the phone ‑‑ I think it was October in 2020 ‑‑ and I told her of this idea, we ‑‑ I just knew.  It was like stars aligned.  And I hope there’s so much more to come from us, because we’ve got a lot of ideas in the bank.  And I just ‑‑ I love working with her.

QUESTION:  (Inaudible) films that you’ve starred in?  Can you talk about that?

NOELLE LLEWELLYN:  You’re a little hard to hear.  Do you want to repeat yourself?

QUESTION:  Yes.  Sorry about that.  I was just asking Paul, how (inaudible) starred in?

NOELLE LLEWELLYN:  We’re still having trouble hearing you.  I think you’re asking ‑‑ I think you’re asking Paul how did this film “Fit for Christmas” differ from the other holiday films he starred in.  Does that sound accurate?

QUESTION:  Correct.  Yes.

NOELLE LLEWELLYN:  Perfect.  Paul?

PAUL GREENE:  Awesome.  Well, thanks.  So it was super ‑‑ it was so unique because I’ve worked with Anna before on a movie prior, and that was a really great experience, and there’s a lot of serendipity with Anna, and I going 20 years back.  It’s a long story and a good one.

And then ‑‑ but what made this so different is, you know, working with Amanda in this way, knowing that this was her first experience like this, that it just had this crackling newness and possibility to it that was really unique.  There was ‑‑ it was very improvian, in the moment, and spontaneous and exciting.

And then just, you know, immediately, there was this chemistry and friendship between us ‑‑ all of us actors, really, and especially between Amanda and myself, like from the first minute.  We were just like long lost friends.  And that translated really quickly into a feeling of having each other’s back in the scenes and improvising and ‑‑ which Anna loved when we improvised.

(Laughter.)

And, yeah.  It was ‑‑ and what’s unique, too, is having our writer on set, which is the first time I’ve had a writer on one of these Christmas movies, or even a romantic comedy like this, be on set from front all the way through, which was really unique and special, because we went to her with all these really nuanced questions about character and where we were headed and arc, and it was ‑‑ yeah, it was cool.

And for me, it’s special because it’s my first of these with CBS.  And so there was a lot of excitement and a lot of trust and a lot of newness to it that made it just super fun.

QUESTION:  Yes, hi.  My question is for Rebecca.  I’m a big fan of yours from “All My Children” and “General Hospital.”  This is the first Christmas movie you’ve been in, right?  And is there anything that surprised you about it?

REBECCA BUDIG:  Thank you so much.  That’s really sweet of you.  Yes, it is the first Christmas movie I’ve done.  And I would say ‑‑ I mean, I’ve shot in all different kind of situations, but definitely shooting with, you know, heavy sweaters and coats in 100 degree heat wasn’t that fun.  But actually being with this group of people, it ‑‑ to what Paul said, it really was kind of a magical grouping of people.  And I felt like I was in an episode of “Three’s Company” a lot of the time.  But it was a lot of fun.  It was a lot of fun.

QUESTION:  Thank you so much.

QUESTION:  Hey, thank you very much for speaking to us.  I have two questions.  I’m wondering, first, how long did it take to shoot the movie?  And secondly, for any of the actors, I’m wondering ‑‑ I always love to ask this question:  When the show ‑‑ when the movie will air, will you actually sit down and watch it?  And when ‑‑ if you do, can you actually enjoy watching it?  Or do you watch to review yourself?  Anybody.

(Laughter.)

REBECCA BUDIG:  Well, I ‑‑

QUESTION:  Nobody likes to answer that question, ever.

PAUL GREENE:  Ladies first.

AMANDA KLOOTS:  You know, I’ll say to your second question, Mark, that because I’m an executive producer on this film, I’ve already watched a lot of ‑‑ a lot of the cuts.  So I do feel like that day, on December 4th, and watching it ‑‑ we are all going to watch it together, actually, except for Paul because he’ll be away.  But we’re all going to watch it together.  I do think that I’ll be able to watch it on the 4th and finally put, like, my producer hat off and just watch it and enjoy it.  And I plan to live tweet that night as well and just really celebrate the premiere of the movie and all the hard work that we all did.

REBECCA BUDIG:  I will say, like, my first run‑through, I’m always looking at it, you know ‑‑ at myself with a critical eye.  But like Amanda said, like, I think on the 4th when we’re all watching it together, it will just be just really fun and to relive those moments.

QUESTION:  Paul?  Your thoughts?

PAUL GREENE:  This took us about 15 filming days, I’d say.  Right?  Crazy enough, that is the average for these romantic comedies that happen, these holiday movies, and a lot of the kind of seasonal movies that you see.  15 ‑‑ 14 or 15 shooting days.  I know.  There’s some long weeks and long days, especially for number one on the call sheet and sometimes number two as well.

And for me, I love to watch them.  Like, I ‑‑ I haven’t seen this yet.  And so I ‑‑ I sometimes try to watch just little pieces and ‑‑ but never the whole thing so that it’s a good surprise.  And so I’m looking forward to watching it, yeah.  I don’t have ‑‑ I don’t have too much of a hard time watching it.  It makes me ‑‑ I get so excited about ‑‑ you know, I love the nostalgic feeling of Christmas movies.  And then just that I’ve been a part of a lot of them and got a chance to do it and get to do that for my job and knowing that so many people are at home and they’re getting so much out of it, it’s a great feeling.

QUESTION:  Thank you.

NOELLE LLEWELLYN:  And I actually have a question for Jessica, our movie director, Jessica Harmon.  Jessica, you work in front of and behind the camera.  You are a movie director for this, but you also act.  And I’m just wondering, is ‑‑ do you prefer one over the other now?  Do you want to continue to do both indefinitely?  It was just ‑‑ it’s so great to see that you work, you know, in front of and behind the camera and was just curious about that process for you and how that works just for yourself and for your own ‑‑ for your process.

JESSICA HARMON:  Well, thanks for the question, Noelle.  I’m just only obsessed with your outfit and the whole look right now.  It’s kind of awesome.  People are answering questions, and I’m just watching Noelle like I’m loving this.

Do I have one over the other?  Yeah, directing, because I think directing is so incredibly exhausting that I can’t put myself in front of a camera anymore.  So it’s ‑‑ for me, I think, you know, I was an actor for 25 years, and it was wonderful and I loved it, but I found, personally, my favorite thing was when I started directing, to kind of come in and have these ideas and work with the crew, who I love.  And the crew on this film should get a pretty solid shoutout because, you know, it’s really difficult, like Paul was saying, for everyone to do a film in 15 days and in that heat that these poor actors had to sit in.  It was ‑‑ you know, in Canada, it was 30‑something degrees, which in Fahrenheit is a whole other situation.  But it’s hot, for you Americans listening.  It’s a lot.  And the crew, you know, puts their all into this.  And this film, this cast, and this crew all kind of came together like lightning in a bottle, and it was amazing.

And there’s something that happens when you spend the time directing and you have a vision and you’re working with people like Anna and, you know, people like Amanda who come in with this incredible idea and this incredible vision themselves and they trust you to kind of take it and go forward with it.  And then so many people get involved, but at the end of the day, when all of that work kind of comes together and you’re speaking to the actors on set, and they come in and they do something and it’s wonderful, and you kind of come in and you collaborate together, and you step back and you watch it, there’s a feeling that is so special to me as a director now that when I get to watch fellow actors light up the screen, especially in the way that this cast did ‑‑ and no offense to my other casts ‑‑ but that this cast, the chemistry that these people had with one another, and the work that they put into this, and what they brought to ‑‑ the emotion that they brought to these characters, it’s so much more than just kind of a sweet rom‑com, you know, holiday movie.  We’ve all seen these movies be made before, but watching these people just explode on camera and the chemistry that they had with each other and bringing these characters to life, it’s like ‑‑ it genuinely brings emotion to me that I don’t ‑‑ I couldn’t even pull myself as an actor.

So when it comes to one or the other, I have to side with directing because I just love working with actors, and I love working with actors like this.  And these guys just light this movie up.  It was a wonderful script to begin with, but it’s ‑‑ what they’ve done and what I hope the audience ‑‑ you know, what I know the audience will see from them is it’s explosive.  Like, the chemistry between all of them is incredible.  But you look at Griffin and Audrey’s storyline and where they begin and where they end, every day on set I was shocked by them, because I just ‑‑ I didn’t see them bringing the characters that they brought.  I saw Griffin played a different way in my mind.  I saw Audrey a little bit different in my mind, and they showed up and they surprised me every single scene.  And it was just ‑‑ it was a wonderful, wonderful thing to watch.

So directing wins, but…

NOELLE LLEWELLYN:  No.  Thank you for that.  We will miss you in front of the camera, but we understand and we appreciate your work.  And the chemistry does feel very special for the film, so thank you.

QUESTION:  This is for Rebecca.  This movie, like a lot of movies, a lot of the Christmas movies, makes it feel that a small town, growing up in a small town, living in a small town, you’re very lucky.  I sympathize with that.  I’m from a small town myself.  But on the other hand, you got to go to, like, the Cincinnati School of Performing Arts.  And if it hadn’t been for ‑‑ you know, if you hadn’t been in a city, you wouldn’t have been able to do that.  A million people from that school went on to become really successful.  So when you look at the what’s good or bad about growing up in a small town or a big city, how do you look at it?

REBECCA BUDIG:  Yeah.  You make a good point, Mike.  Because, you know, when you’re in a bigger city, you’re exposed to a lot more opportunities, and there’s maybe a lot more culture and things to experience.  But I also really, really, really ‑‑ especially as I get older ‑‑ really appreciate a small town and what that has to offer, because that’s ‑‑ it offers a lot more heart sometimes, a lot more familiarity, and that’s what I think this movie brings, like, warmth to it, because everyone’s connected.  You’re more connected with other people.  I think in big urban towns, in cities, you get a little disconnected, even though you have your friends and things, but you don’t get to really, like ‑‑ things don’t matter as much as they do in a small town, and that’s what I think this movie brings to it, you know, like, things that matter.

QUESTION:  Okay.  Cool.  Thanks.

NOELLE LLEWELLYN:  Next, I just have a question for Anna White, our movie writer.  Anna, I’m very curious, what was the process like for you working with Amanda and really shepherding this concept and this idea that she had and bringing that to the screen and writing the script?  Can you tell us a little bit about that?

ANNA WHITE:  Yeah.  I’d love to.  It was ‑‑ it was great.  Because, actually, I followed Amanda’s story and, like, I ‑‑ my heart went out to her.  And then when our mutual acquaintance said, “Hey, Amanda has a great idea for a Christmas movie.  She needs a writer,” and we had our first, like, FaceTime and just, like, everything clicked. I thought it was a great idea because we hadn’t seen a fitness instructor Christmas movie yet.  And if anyone was going to do it, it was going to be Amanda Kloots.

And so I just ‑‑ yeah, honestly, from there, we kind of went back and forth.  We came up with a longer synopsis.  We pitched it to CBS I think that December.  And then kind of just worked on it and wrote.  And every draft of the outline, every draft of the script, Amanda ‑‑ I’d send to her first, she’d give her notes, and then we both would be on the notes calls with CBS. So that way, anything that came up that they wanted to change, like, Amanda and I can bounce ideas off of each other.  And Amanda is so creative and thinks outside the box in such great ways, and she knows ‑‑ I mean, like, my workout is walking to Starbucks every day. So Amanda was able to work in a lot more of the “this is the fitness lingo,” and ‑‑ for, like, the fitness scenes and stuff like that, which was very helpful because, you know, I couldn’t write what I know ‑‑ I did her class in Vancouver, though, and let me tell you, I need to work on my endurance.

But the point being, it was great having Amanda there as a partner the entire time.  And, you know, any time ‑‑ like if a note was frustrating, I’d be like, “Isn’t this note crazy?”  And she’d be like, “Yeah, this note is crazy.”  And then we’d figure out how to do it better together.  So that was really cool.

And then seeing her come alive on scene as the character was just ‑‑ I’m so glad I got to be part of it and see it.  You will not believe that this is her first scripted movie/television role.  When you watch it, she was a natural.  She went like that.  She was so present.  I just like ‑‑ I can’t wait for everyone to see ‑‑ I mean, no one’s surprised she has all these talents, but I’m excited for everyone to see her acting chops.

NOELLE LLEWELLYN:  Thank you, Anna.  And that is a great callout regarding this being a first for Amanda in many, many ways, which makes this such a special story around the movie overall, but thank you.  And I, too, will not be fit for Christmas.  I might be fit for Easter.  We will see.

(Laughter.)

Thank you.  That’s all of our time for today, so I think I’m going to throw to Jessica, our movie director and one of our EPs, just to make some final remarks and give us some final thoughts.

JESSICA HARMON:  No pressure or anything.  Thank you, Noelle,  amazing panel, everyone.  It was good to see everyone again.

I kind of touched on this with answering your question earlier, but having done this for ‑‑ not this specifically, but having been in the film industry for 27 years, I can honestly say that, you know, I love my job, I love being on set, but it’s not always the easiest thing to pull off.  And I think Christmas isn’t always the easiest thing for everybody.  Holidays aren’t the easiest time for a lot of people.  And I know for Amanda, this movie was, you know, borne out of a very difficult time in her life and grief, and what she’s done with that is an incredible thing that the world has watched and seen.  And I know every single person on this cast and every single person watching has also had difficult times in their lives.  And this film, for me, I was going through something difficult prior to it, and it was such a wonderful, wonderful experience to make this movie.  And I really, really do believe that the performances that these people gave really came from the heart.  And I think the audience is going to recognize that and see that.

And, you know, Christmas isn’t always the easiest time for people.  And I really do just hope that this movie coming from a group of people that has all had hardships and has all been through difficult times in their own lives and brought beautiful emotions to this story, I really hope that that translates for people.  And in my opinion ‑‑ and I’m likely biased, but in my opinion, it really did.  And anyone that I’ve shown the film to agrees that there’s just something really incredibly joyous about this.

And I think that, you know, sitting around at Christmas with your family, this is a wonderful movie to watch.  Because if you’re in a great mood, it’s going to keep that great mood going; and if you’re feeling a little down, it’s something that you can watch and it’s going to elevate you because it’s just ‑‑ it’s a group of really, really talented, wonderful people who really put their all into it.  And I think it’s something that everyone here can certainly be proud of.  And anybody that worked on the film I know is very proud of it.  And I just can’t wait for everybody to watch it and love it the way we love it.

So just thank you.  And I’m just proud to be a part of this film.  And seeing all these faces again ‑‑ I’m in Bulgaria shooting a movie right now.  And seeing their faces, I’m like — I just feel happy.  I think people are going to be happy to watch.  So thank you.

NOELLE LLEWELLYN:  Thank you for that.  And, you know, that’s such a powerful message of triumph and hope and, you know, something that we all ‑‑ a lot of people do need at the holidays.  So thank you for pointing that out.

And thank you all for being a part of what is an incredibly fun film.  And we are very much looking forward to it.  So thank you to our panelists today.  We appreciate you.

And everyone, this concludes our CBS holiday collection press junket.  I will be immortalized in your mind for the next year in this sweater.  Do I regret it?  No.  We thank you for joining us, and we wish you all a very, very happy holiday season.

MORE INFO:

CBS holiday special FIT FOR CHRISTMAS, scheduled to air on the CBS Television Network.Photo: Linsday Siu/CBS ©2022 CBS Broadcasting, Inc. All Rights Reserved.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

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Scene from "Fit for Christmas" with Amanda Kloots and Paul Greene on CBS

Interview with Keshia Knight Pulliam, Brad James, Tim Reid and Angela Tucker

TV Interview!

Keshia Knight Pulliam, Brad James, Tim Reid and Angela Tucker of "A New Orleans Noel" on Lifetime

Interview with Keshia Knight Pulliam, Brad James, Tim Reid and Angela Tucker of “A New Orleans Noel” on Lifetime by Suzanne 11/7/22

This was a fun panel with these actors for a really nice holiday movie. The movie is set in New Orleans, of course, and the character of Loretta, played by Patti LaBelle, is based on a real person, Loretta Brown, who started the successful business Loretta’s Authentic Pralines. She was the first black woman to start a confectionery company in New Orleans. She passed away earlier this year.  Keshia Knight Pulliam, whom you may remember as Rudy from “The Cosby Show,” or her many other series and movies, stars as an architect, and her real-life husband Brad James plays a competing architect, former school rival and, of course, love interest in this rom-com Christmas movie. The legendary Tim Reid plays Loretta’s flame Marcel. It was fun to speak with them, along with writer/director Angela Tucker. Just be prepared to have your mouth water when you watch this movie! Pralines are delicious, and Lifetime kindly sent us a holiday gift basket that included some of Loretta’s yummy pralines. I was inspired to make some of my own this Christmas as well (although they’re not nearly as good).

Enjoy the video interview!

MORE INFO:

"A New Orleans Noel" key art

Trailer and Lifetime Official Site

Grace Hill (Keshia Knight Pulliam) and Anthony Brown (Brad James) could not be more different. Despite having gone to college to study architecture together, their lives took them on completely separate paths. However, when they’re both hired to work together on the home of Loretta Brown (Patti LaBelle)—a New Orleans praline icon —the two find themselves working together at Christmas…and butting heads over more than just architecture. When Anthony and his family discover that Grace will be celebrating Christmas alone, they invite her to take part in their traditions and their celebrations. Soon, fiercely independent Grace begins to learn the importance of family and community, while modern Anthony learns to embrace tradition and the magic of Christmas. But when Grace is offered a new job far away from New Orleans she’ll have to decide if she’ll leave, or follow her heart.

Tim Reid stars as Marcel Lirette, a handsome, retired friend who moves back to town after years away and catches the eye of Lorretta.

A New Orleans Noel is produced by Evergreen Films with Daniel Lewis, Rick Carter, Whoopi Goldberg, Tom Leonardis and Keshia Knight Pulliam serving as Executive Producers. Script by Angela Tucker and Alys Murray and directed by Angela Tucker.

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Scene from "A New Orleans Noel" on Lifetime

Interview with “Reindeer in Here” producers

TV Interview!

"Reindeer In Here" panel for CBS with producers Candace Cameron Bure, Adam Reed and Lino DiSalvo - photos from Reindeer in Here Official site, and social media

Interview with Candace Cameron Bure, Adam Reed and Lino DiSalvo of “Reindeer In Here” on CBS by Suzanne 11/3/22

This is a really good animated Christmas special on CBS. I hope you watch it! This panel was fun but a little confusing at first because they didn’t tell us who would be there, and they put up a photo of the cast right beforehand, which made me think that the cast would all be on the panel. However, most of them weren’t, so that was also disappointing. I was the one asking the first question here, and I was using my tablet, which sometimes only shows part of the panel on the screen if it’s a large group, so that’s why I asked if there were more.  Also, one of the panel members has said some controversial remarks since this panel occurred.  I hope that no one foregoes watching the special because of her. She plays a very minor role, and the special is very good. It’s based on a book, or series of books, and a new one is coming out, so it has that product tie-in, along with the toys they mentioned.

Here’s the transcript of the panel!

CBS  2022 HOLIDAY PROGRAMMING PANELS

REINDEER IN HERE

Candace Cameron Bure

 Adam Reed, Executive Producer/Creator

 Lino DiSalvo, Executive Producer/Director

 Virtual via Zoom

November 03, 2022

© 2022 CBS.  All rights reserved.

TRACEY RAAB:  Hi, there.  I’m Tracey Raab from the CBS communications team.  And on behalf of our entire group, we want to thank you for joining us for our holiday collection press day.  We’re excited to be adding even more content into our already robust annual slate of animated specials, movies, concerts, and more.  Today we have some first looks and great panels on deck and, at the end of our presentation, a sneak peek at a special one‑hour holiday episode of our hit comedy “Ghosts.”

Hopefully you all saw the announcements this morning for the cast of our newest animated Christmas special, “Reindeer in Here,” and information on a few of our annual traditions:  “A Home for the Holidays,” “The Thanksgiving Day Parade,” and the “National Christmas Tree Lighting.”  Also, we have two special episodes of “The Greatest At-Home Videos” for Thanksgiving and the holidays, hosted by Cedric the Entertainer, airing November 11th and December 16th.

Throughout the day, please check your inboxes for a link to video content we hope you will share on your social platforms.  And finally, a reminder to use the raise hand function to ask a question during our sessions.  We will now begin with our first panel, “Reindeer in Here.”  Enjoy.

(Clip played.)

KATE FISHER:  Hi, everybody.  I’m Kate Fisher.  On behalf of myself and my counterpart, Victoria Saavedra, we’d like to welcome you to the “Reindeer in Here” panel.  We’re so excited to share a sneak peek today of our new animated holiday entry, a heartwarming tale featuring Blizzard or Blizz, a young reindeer living at the North Pole who bands together with his unique group of friends to save the future of Christmas.

The animation and story line are truly unique, and the special is a wonderful addition to our holiday slate.  The special premieres Tuesday, November 29th, on CBS and will stream live and on demand on Paramount+.

Now, please welcome our panelists, star Candace Cameron Bure, executive producer and creator Adam Reed, and executive producer and director Lino DiSalvo.  I’ll turn it over to Adam first for some opening remarks and a sneak peek at a scene from the special before taking your questions.  Over to you, Adam.

ADAM REED:  Hey, everybody.  Thanks for having us.  We’re super thrilled to be here.  You know, just a little quick back story.  When I sat down six years ago to write this book, it was out of a need for my own family that I couldn’t find a positive Christmas tradition that also didn’t stress me out as a parent.  And so I really kind of sat down and tried to write a story that I felt would be unique and different and you would fall in love with the characters at the most magical time of year and hopefully someday become a Christmas classic.

And when I sat down with my illustrator and we were looking at different reindeers, because, of course, reindeer are the most magical thing outside of Santa, there was one reindeer that we focused on specifically, and that one reindeer had one antler smaller than the other.  And that is the hero of our story, Blizzard or Blizz.  And the reason is because he’s a different reindeer.  Right?  And every child at some point in their life feels different, because being different is normal, and our film celebrates the uniqueness of every child and of course shows that Christmas wishes really do come true.

And I will tell you my Christmas wish has come true because I know we announced our amazing ‑‑ our amazing cast this morning.  I’m so thrilled to have Adam Devine, Henry Winkler, Candace Cameron Bure, Jo Koy, Donald Faison, Melissa Villaseñor, and of course Jim Gaffigan as Santa.  So we are so thrilled to be here.

And just to toss to the clip, you’re going to see a little moment here that has almost all of our main characters in it.  It has a little bit of funny, a little bit of emotion, and a lot of heart.  And we hope you enjoy.

(Clip played.)

KATE FISHER:  We’re so thrilled to start taking your questions.  As a reminder, if you have a question, please raise your hand in the chat feature and unmute yourself.

QUESTION:  Hey.  Thanks for talking to us today.  Is ‑‑ I can only see four of you on the screen.  Is everybody else there?  Or is it just the four of you?

KATE FISHER:  Just the four of us for this panel.

QUESTION:  Oh, okay.  I was confused.  Sorry.

So how long did it take to make this special?  I really enjoyed it, by the way.  I thought it was very cute and clever.  How long did it take to make?  And how long did it take for the actors to work on their voices?

LINO DISALVO:  Adam, you’re muted.

KATE FISHER:  Adam, you’re still muted.  I should remind the panelists ‑‑

ADAM REED:  Apologies.  Sorry, guys.  You know, how long did it take us to make and how long should we have had to make, two different things.  Lino, over to you on this one.

LINO DISALVO:  Yeah.  So we did this in about 13 months.  And, you know, you always wish you had a little bit more time, but 13 months.  And we had actors ‑‑ well, the thing is, is that going back and forth in total, from casting and finding just the right actors, I would say three ‑‑ three weeks, four weeks.

ADAM REED:  And by the way ‑‑ and Candace can speak to this.  You know, typically, before COVID times, we would be in the VO booth with all of our actors working with them.  And of course, you know, during COVID times, we can’t do that.  So everything was recorded remotely.  Candace, do you want to talk about that a second?

CANDACE CAMERON BURE:  Oh, sure.  Well, we did, I mean, lots of work on the computer over Zoom first, but then went into the recording booth solo.  And you guys were all on monitors in the booth with me.  And it was really only a day, day and a half, maybe, of working on that.  So much fun.

cast of "Reindeer in Here" on CBS

QUESTION:  And does that include all the animation as well?

LINO DISALVO:  Yeah, the animation was about ‑‑ was about eight months.

QUESTION:  Cool.  Thank you.

LINO DISALVO:  You’re welcome.

QUESTION:  For Adam, I can’t help noticing that this is the exact opposite of Archer in so many ways.  I mean, Archer just ripples with cynicism, and this is the precise opposite.  So what was it like to go from one to the other?  And which one of those two is really you?

ADAM REED:  Well, here’s what I’ll tell you.  I’m actually not the Adam Reed that created Archer.  That is a different Adam Reed, and that Adam Reed and I always get confused.  He gets my e‑mails; he gets ‑‑ and I get his e‑mails.  So very, very different.  So luckily, to answer your question, this is my only baby.

QUESTION:  Okay.  And let me ask you, what’s it like for so often people to assume you’re the other Adam Reed?  Do you enjoy that or is it weird?

ADAM REED:  No, look, we were at the same agency for a long time, and we’ve never actually met.  So, you know, it’s just kind of funny.

QUESTION:  Okay, thanks.

QUESTION:  Hi.  Question for Lino.  Obviously you’ve been a head of animation before this, but I believe this is your first time as director.  I was curious to know how different that responsibility has been for you being that you used to lead a team of just animators and now you’re managing the whole pipeline.

LINO DISALVO:  Yeah.  I love it.  I mean, especially that ‑‑ I think when you find a script that speaks to you and feels honest to you and you can relate to the characters, it’s really enjoyable.  It’s wonderful.  I mean, you know, the team that I was leading at Disney was ‑‑ you know, I would oversee a couple hundred people, and I think the crew on our show was less than 200 people.  So, listen, I loved it.  Like, as an animator becoming a director and working on a holiday movie, dude, I’m thrilled.  I loved it.

QUESTION:  Okay.  Thank you.

LINO DISALVO:  Thank you.

QUESTION:  Hi.  Thanks, Kate.  Hi, everyone.  Candace, you’ve obviously got a lot going on this holiday season, like a lot.  And you’re very associated with another network these days.  Do you have a special ‑‑ I don’t know if the word is “out” or “out clause” or whatever ‑‑ in your deal with them that if something like this comes up that’s animation only, it’s okay for you to do it for another firm?  And also, did this fit in comfortably with everything else that you’ve got going for this holiday season?

CANDACE CAMERON BURE:  So to answer your question, yes.  Obviously I’m in the project, so I was ‑‑ I was able to do it.  And it’s been a huge dream of mine for a very long time to be in something animated that’s very special.  And it was so fitting to ‑‑ for my first animated movie to be in a Christmas one.  So that was very exciting for me.  And I’m forgetting the second part of your question.

QUESTION:  I’m sorry.  The “yes” part was to that you have a special out clause with the other network in terms of doing something with animation?  Was that what the “yes” was for?  I’m sorry.  Was that ‑‑ there were two questions.  I’m sorry.  The “yes” that you gave was to the question about ‑‑

CANDACE CAMERON BURE:  Oh, that, yes, I was able to do this project.  And, yep.

QUESTION:  And then the other question was ‑‑ I guess the “yes” takes care of both of those.  Thank you.

CANDACE CAMERON BURE:  Okay.

QUESTION:  We’re good.  Thank you.

ADAM REED:  And can I say one thing that is super important?  When we started concepting this movie and how it was going to be, the first person we had in mind was Candace.  She is obviously the queen of Christmas and just an amazing human being.  And so when we created the roles, we ‑‑ you know, she literally was the first person we thought of.  And she is so incredible at this role, there is even a little Pinky plush that ‑‑

CANDACE CAMERON BURE:  Oh, I have her.

ADAM REED:  ‑‑ everyone is going to love.  That is her character and as amazing as she is.

CANDACE CAMERON BURE:  Adam, thank you.  That was so sweet.  I have the little Pinky plush right here.  All my nieces are going to get this.  And godchildren.

And, yes, I ‑‑ you know, I did remember the second part of your question, if this movie was fitting into all of the other things that I’m doing.  And the answer to that is yes.  This movie is such a beautiful story that’s so heartwarming and so encouraging to kids to celebrate our uniqueness, and I just ‑‑ I absolutely love it as a mom first and what the message sends.  And then of course as an actress, it was just delightful to be in.

QUESTION:  Thank you.

QUESTION:  Hi, everyone.  Thanks so much.  I love the special.  My two‑year‑old daughter has a little reindeer in here.  Her name is Ida.

ADAM REED:  Oh, I love that.

QUESTION:  And, yeah, we’ve had her since last year.  So she was home sick yesterday, so she actually watched the screener with me, and then all day today, she wants to watch the Ida movie.  So I really ‑‑ it was really great.

But I was just wondering, did you ‑‑ because the book is done in, like, obviously a different animation style than the show.  Were other animation styles considered when you did the special?

ADAM REED:  Well, I want to toss that to Lino in a second.  The only thing I want to say is you will see very quickly this year there’s a new vision of the book and plush set.  So the art is elevated.  It’s a completely new and fresh look.  And it was very important that we not only elevate it, but we kept it classic.  And when Lino and I first started talking, we wanted to have ‑‑ look, for us, we want this to be a Christmas classic, right?  To outlive us all, like Rudolph.  So for us, we wanted something that was contemporary but also had classical feels to it and felt hand‑painted.  And I got to give Lino all the credit for that.  He was the one that said, “Look, it’s CG‑looking, but we’re going to hand‑paint all these elements.”

Lino, can you give some context to that?

LINO DISALVO:  Yeah, yeah, yeah.  I wanted to capture the charm of the illustrations from the new book that’s coming out.  So, you know, a lot of times in CG, you’ll put this default fur on a character, and it’s very challenging to art‑direct the silhouette of the characters.  The two things that’s very common and which makes illustration so appealing is when you handcraft and suggest fur in silhouette, you do the little drawings of a tuft of fur on the elbow.

So you’ll see ‑‑ when you watch Blizz, you’ll notice that he has these little hero elements on him that really stand out and are really handcrafted.  And the other is a lot of the times, you know, when two textures meet on a CG character, they kind of blend together.  And I wanted to celebrate, again, what the illustration ‑‑ what illustration artists would do, which is maybe use a dry blush to blend in the textures.  So when you look at Blizz again, if you look at his nose, like at the top of his nose, there’s a dry brush stroke there.

And, yeah, I really love the idea that the movie is handcrafted and very high quality.  We take pride in that.

ADAM REED:  And by the way, if you want to be mom of the year, have Ida bring a special new gift, there is ‑‑ we have “Reindeer in Here” PJs this year and blankets.  Yeah, at Target.  So they just ‑‑ they just launched and they’re pretty awesome.  So maybe an early little Thanksgiving gift from Ida.

QUESTION:  Very cool.  Thank you.

QUESTION:  Certainly.  It’s a question for Candace.  I’m wondering how you ‑‑ you found the voice.  I mean, it’s not that very different from your own voice, but, yet, it does have a distinctness to it.  How did you find the voice for the character?

CANDACE CAMERON BURE:  Well, that was ‑‑ that was Lino.  Really, I didn’t know if I was ‑‑ if they even wanted me to try a different kind of voice.  And we worked on that, and they initially were like, “No, we just ‑‑ we really want your voice.”  I think my voice is distinctive.  I hear a lot from people on the street that they’re not sure if it’s me when they see me, but as soon as they hear my voice, they instantly know that it’s me.  And so they really did want my voice.  So it was just really working on the delivery of the lines and the little nuances of how we wanted her to be.

And I feel like ‑‑ I feel like Pinky, she’s that ‑‑ she’s that friend that tells it straight, but she has a little bit of a motherly quality to her, or that big sister quality, that she’s still gentle in speaking the truth.

QUESTION:  Well, it’s a charming character.

CANDACE CAMERON BURE:  Thank you.

KATE FISHER:  We have another question actually for Adam.  Adam, what has been your favorite part about bringing the book to life?

ADAM REED:  Oh, my gosh.  That’s a great question.  Truly, that we get the opportunity to ‑‑ for everybody in the world to see this.  For every child at the most magical time of year to celebrate their uniqueness and their differences, to me, is the most important thing.  And certainly my Christmas wish, the only thing I ever wished for was that ‑‑ at some point in every child’s life, they feel different, and to celebrate those uniquenesses at the most magical time of year is all I could wish for, and the fact that this is happening is just all still surreal.

KATE FISHER:  Thank you.  And a question actually for Candace.  What was one of the defining reasons you agreed to be part of the animated movie?

CANDACE CAMERON BURE:  Well, one of my ‑‑ my longtime friends ‑‑ I have a very close friendship with Jonathan Koch, who’s a part of this movie.  And then meeting with Adam.  They ‑‑ I talked to both of them, and I was very excited once I heard about the project.  But after I read the script, I was like, “Oh, I’m in.  Please.  Anything.  Like, anything that I can do, I would love to be a part of it.”

QUESTION:  Thank you.  Candace, I’m just curious.  We know you so well for all these holiday projects.  Has this been a case of you just wanting to do that because you love Christmas so much?  Or do you find that when people start talking about Christmas projects, they think of you automatically?  And is there a point where you ever went, “Gosh, I’d just like to do an Arbor Day movie”?

(Laughter.)

CANDACE CAMERON BURE:  Christmas truly is my favorite holiday of the year.  I’m a woman of faith, so there’s no bigger holiday than to celebrate Christmas.  I love that I’ve become synonymous with Christmas because of the movies that I’ve done over the past 15 years.  So it’s a great joy for me.

But, again, I’ve dreamed of being a part of a classic animated movie for a very long time.  And when I was ‑‑ was offered and pitched this project, it was just, I mean, even more magical for the fact that it was Christmas and it’s for children.  I ‑‑ you know, I’m a mom of three and I’ve written several children’s books myself.

So all ‑‑ just the culmination of everything was a no‑brainer and ‑‑ and just a delight to be a part of.  So I’m ‑‑ I’m happy ‑‑ I’m happy to be, you know, a part of people’s Christmas traditions hopefully for years to come.

QUESTION:  Thank you.

QUESTION:  Yes.  For Candace, when you do a regular holiday film, you’re dressed up in the holiday outfits and your makeup, and you’ve got the surroundings of Christmas.  How did you get yourself into the holiday spirit for doing this when it’s ‑‑ it wasn’t all decorated ‑‑ set wasn’t decorated?

CANDACE CAMERON BURE:  Oh, well, this was so exciting for me.  I remember leaving the booth where ‑‑ after recording the voices, and I was just like on the biggest high from recording these.  I don’t think I need to have the surroundings of Christmas to feel like I’m in the Christmas spirit.  I feel like I’m in Christmas 24/7 because I’m constantly ‑‑ you know, 365 days a year, because I’m always reading Christmas scripts and always developing the next Christmas movies, whether I’m starring in them or producing them.

But it was ‑‑ animation is just a whole different ball game and very new for me.  So to be able to voice a character, to see some images on a screen, but then work with such an incredible director as Lino who really just pulled all different kinds of just different performances out of me through the character was so incredibly exciting.  And I think that was ‑‑ that’s a challenge as an actor when you are in front of the camera and you’re not used to doing things off camera.  Everything about your voice has to change because people don’t get to see your facial expressions.  They don’t get to see your hand movements.  And I’m a big ‑‑ I move.  I had to move around that room.  I had to move around the booth and really perform it as an actor.  But you have to make sure that it all carries through your voice and you can’t rely on your body.

KATE FISHER:  Thank you so much.  I’m just going to ask Adam to maybe make a few final remarks to close our panel.

ADAM REED:  Sure.  Look, Candace and Lino and everybody at CBS, thank you.  Look, this movie and the “Reindeer in Here” tradition is really to celebrate the uniqueness of every child and show that Christmas wishes really do come true, not only at the most magical time of year, but year‑round.  And this movie, we have created not only to be a Christmas classic that I hope outlives us all, but also is meant for the whole family.  This is not just for children.  It is funny.  It works for adults.  It works for children.  You can really sit down with your entire family.  And the adults will pick up on things that children don’t, and maybe vice versa.  But we really hope you enjoy.  And thank you, everybody.  I’d encourage you to watch the whole film.  And thanks for having us.  We’re excited to share this tradition with the world.

KATE FISHER:  Thank you so much to our panelists and journalists for participating in our “Reindeer in Here” panel.

MORE INFO: Trailer

"Reindeer in Here" key art Celebrate the holiday season with a festive new special full of adventure and cheer for the whole family! “Reindeer in Here®,” a new one-hour animated holiday special, will premiere Tuesday, Nov. 29 on cbs Photo: CBS ©2022 CBS Broadcasting, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Highest quality screengrab available.

“REINDEER IN HERE®” ANNOUNCES THE STAR-STUDDED CAST BEHIND THE NEW ONE-HOUR ANIMATED HOLIDAY SPECIAL, PREMIERING TUESDAY, NOV. 29, ON CBS

Cast Led by Adam Devine, Jim Gaffigan, Melissa Villaseñor, Henry Winkler, Candace Cameron Bure, Donald Faison, Jo Koy, Gabriel Bateman and Brooke Monroe Conaway

Click HERE for REINDEER IN HERE Voice Cast Graphic

CBS announced today the star-studded voices behind the new CBS Original animated holiday special REINDEER IN HERE®, which premieres Tuesday, Nov. 29 (9:01-10:01 PM, PT/ET), on the CBS Television Network and will be available to stream live and on demand on Paramount+*. The one-hour special, filled with joy and magic for the whole family, will immediately follow the beloved holiday classic RUDOLPH THE RED-NOSED REINDEER (8:00-9:01 PM, ET/PT).

REINDEER IN HERE’s cast includes Adam Devine voicing Blizzard “Blizz;” Jim Gaffigan voicing Santa; Melissa Villaseñor voicing Candy; Henry Winkler voicing Smiley; Candace Cameron Bure voicing Pinky; Donald Faison voicing Bucky; Jo Koy voicing Hawk; Gabriel Bateman voicing Theo; and Brooke Monroe Conaway voicing Isla.

Based on the award-winning Christmas book and plush set created by acclaimed author Adam Reed, written for the screen by Greg Erb & Jason Oremland, and directed by former head of animation for Walt Disney Animation Studios Lino DiSalvo, REINDEER IN HERE is the heartwarming story of how Blizzard (Blizz), a young reindeer who has one antler that is significantly smaller than the other, and his unique group of friends band together to save the future of Christmas. In doing so, they unknowingly create a magical holiday tradition like none other.

Full Press Release

Proofread and Edited by Brenda

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"Reindeer in Here" on CBS

Holiday Guide 2021

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Time Life Richard Pryor Collection

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DOLLY: THE ULTIMATE COLLECTION

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Masterpiece Mystery: Guilt - Season One

Masterpiece Mystery: Guilt – Season One

Batwoman: The Complete Second Season

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The Flash: The Complete Seventh Season

The Flash: The Complete Seventh Season

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Superman: The Complete Animated Series

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Masterpiece: All Creatures Great And Small

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A Charlie Brown Christmas Deluxe Edition and other DVDs

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Interview with Jacky Lai

TV Interview!

 

Jacky Lai of "A Sugar & Spice Holiday" on Lifetime

Interview with Jacky Lai of “A Sugar & Spice Holiday” on Lifetime by Suzanne 11/24/20

Some people are very easy to talk to… Jacky is one of those people! I enjoyed chatting with her. This movie that premieres tonight is a fun confection. One thing I liked about it is that it’s funny. I laughed out loud in parts. Also, unlike many of these Christmas movies, the ending is a little more satisfying and less stereotyped than many of the others. You’ll have to watch it to see what I mean.  Of course, it almost goes without saying that it’s very refreshing to have a holiday movie starring an Asian actress.

Sorry about the sound quality of the audio file because I was having trouble hearing her. There was some problem with the phone line or something.

Here is the audio version of it.

Suzanne: So, tell us how your role in the movie came about.
Jacky: I got the audition. I read the script. I was very pleasantly surprised by the storyline and kind of very deep ending compared to a lot of other romantic comedies. Then I got a call back. This was all during COVID, so everything was through Zoom, and it was probably the most extensive callback I’ve ever had. It was 19 pages; it was an hour and a half with our executive producer, Nancy (Bennett), and our director, Jennifer (Liao)…But shortly after that, I got the offer for the role.
Suzanne: Oh, that’s cool. Did you know any of the cast and crew already?
Jacky: No, no, not at all, but I was very lucky. Tony (Giroux), who plays [Billy], we’re with the same agency, so we got to connect a little bit beforehand and [unintelligible].
Suzanne: That’s good. And how long did it take to shoot the whole movie?
Jacky: Fifteen working days.
Suzanne: Oh, wow. Quick.
Jacky: Very quick. Yeah.
Suzanne: Yeah, I heard they they do that now.
Jacky: Right. I mean, if they can, they will.
Suzanne: And where was it shot?
Jacky: It was shot in Vancouver but about an hour away, the Abbotsford Langley area.
Suzanne: Okay, great…There were a lot of sweets in this movie. Were any of them edible, or were they all fake?
Jacky: They were all edible, but they were touched by a lot of people, so it wasn’t advised to eat them, but the baked goods were all real baked goods.
Suzanne: It’s tough to watch these Christmas movies, because they’re all filled with all those things. You know, they all have the eggnog and the hot chocolate and the cookies and the gingerbread and oh my gosh.
Jacky: Exactly. You pretty much named everything that was in the movie.
Suzanne: It seems that they all do that. They’re all sweets, and it makes my blood sugar go up just watching the movie!
Jacky: That’s good; then you don’t have to go eat it!
Suzanne: It’s hard though, because when I see it, I want to eat it.
Jacky: I know. I know what you mean. You’re stomach starts making room for it, right?
Suzanne: Yeah. So, do you do any baking in real life?
Jacky: No, not at all.
Suzanne: That’s okay.
Jacky: I don’t think I’ve ever made anything that wasn’t burnt!
Suzanne: Oh, no. Well, here’s the trick – at least if you want to make cookies, because they don’t usually take very long – stay in the kitchen and watch them, because if you try to go do something else, then they will burn.
Jacky: Okay, yeah, that’s what I need to do.
Suzanne: Now, please let me know if this is too personal or not, but your character Suzy is of Chinese descent. What about you?
Jacky: I am Vietnamese. My last name is Lai, which I’ve been told is a Chinese last name, but I’m not that close to my dad’s side of the family, so I don’t really [unintelligible].
Suzanne: Okay, well, that’s interesting. You should do one of those DNA things one of these days. I did one; it was really exciting.
Jacky: Oh, did you? Did you find it was a good thing? Something I should definitely try?
Suzanne: Yeah, it was different than what we all thought. We all thought we were very Irish, and we’re actually only about 10% Irish, because my original last name was Irish, and I’m a quarter Jewish, which we had no idea.
Jacky: Oh, that’s amazing. I’ve seen this YouTube video where they did that just to show everyone that we’re so connected; we’re not just one thing. Yeah, I’m definitely into that.
Suzanne: Yeah, it was fun. I mean, we always knew we were Europeans of some kind or another, but we didn’t know all the little bits and pieces. So yeah, it’s fun. It’s really easy, because they just send you a little kit in the mail, and you do a swab, and you send it back. So it’s simple.
Jacky: I’ll definitely look into that.
Suzanne: Yeah, then you can find out where your ancestors come from. It’s exciting.
So, what was the most challenging part of doing this role?
Jacky: It’s the karaoke scene. Oh man, I am not a singer, and [my] character is not a singer either. So, it wasn’t like I had to be, you know, good, but when you don’t sing, and you’re singing in front of people from set, knowing that this is going to be seen by North America – So, I would have to say that was probably one of the most challenging things for me, just mentally.
Suzanne: So, did you just sing the best you could, or did you try to make it sound bad, because she’s not supposed to sound good?
Jacky: It was a transition. So, the scene is about a transition. So, there was both. There was me being the real me, which is not good, and then me trying really hard, which I hope doesn’t kill your ears. But we did it again in the studio just to get it more clear, and I mean, I guess there’s some magic to that
Suzanne: I haven’t seen that one yet, because they sent me the one – I mean, I guess it’s cut, but it’s not completely done, and it says that they’re substituting a different song, so I don’t think I’ve heard the finished one yet. So, I’ll have to watch and see how you sound. I’m a karaoke person. I know how you feel, though. A lot of people don’t don’t like to sing. But, you know, the good thing about karaoke, though, is that is that nobody cares really how you sound as long as you go up there and act like you’re confident and put on a fun show. That’s all they care about.
Suzanne: Yeah, exactly, because they’re all amateurs; they don’t care, but don’t do a Christmas song.
Jacky: I’ve heard that’s the trick.
Suzanne: Yes, exactly.
Jacky: Fake it until you make it.
Suzanne: Yeah, exactly, because they’re all amateurs; they don’t care, but don’t do a Christmas song.
Jacky: I wish you were there!
Suzanne: Yeah, right? That song was too high for you. You need to do a lower song definitely.
Jacky: So, I mean, on top of the talent, there was that.
Suzanne: Well, they were trying to make you sound like you weren’t a good singer, so it was okay.
Suzanne: So, what was the most fun part of doing the movie?
Jacky: The most fun part I think was just working with everyone. I feel like every time we had a break, I would sit outside and just bask in how grateful I am to be able to work with the people I got to work with. Everyone was so kind and friendly and talented, and I just had so much fun on set. You know, it was fifteen working days, so very extensive, but I never felt truly drained.
Suzanne: So, I know you said you’re not close to your dad’s family, but were you able to relate to how close Suzy is to her family? Especially your grandmother?
Jacky: Yes, my family is very close. My mom had me when she was really young, so we have a very great friendship relationship. My sisters [too]. Yeah, we’re very close.
Suzanne: Okay, good. So, she wasn’t one of those scary moms that you hear about sometimes.
Jacky: No, no, but she is definitely one of those – Honestly, Lillian (Lim) who plays my mom actually reminds me of someone who’s [unintelligible] like my mom.
Suzanne: So is there anything else you have in common with Suzy?
Jacky: I think I’m very hard on myself as well. I think we’re both very passionate. We love our jobs, and I think that sometimes makes us a little crazy about how badly we want things to be great and perfect, and that’s something that I constantly have to remind myself: it’s the journey, not the destination.
Suzanne: Okay. And I liked your name, since my name is Suzanne, and when I was younger, my family called me Suzy when I was younger. I don’t let anybody else call me that though. What have you been doing to keep busy during the pandemic?
Jacky: I’m learning to sing. That’s something I’m doing. I [write in] a journal. I meditate. I write a lot. I’m starting to read a lot more; I feel like it’s a great exercise for the brain.
Suzanne: Okay, great. Do you have a voice teacher that you take lessons from virtually or in real life?
Jacky: Not yet, because I feel like I’m not I’m not good enough yet to train with a vocal coach. I want to be able to understand pitch and tone and know where it comes from within my body [before I] invest in a vocal coach. So, I made it a thirty day challenge where I would YouTube like twenty minutes of vocal exercises every day for thirty days, and after that, I will definitely search for one.
Suzanne: Okay, good, because even if you just find someone like at a local college or something like that, they can help you a lot, even as a beginner. They can show you if you’re breathing right and those kinds of things, and your posture, and you’ll probably have good posture being an actor. So, I recommend that, definitely.
Jacky: You’re so right, yeah. It’s posture and breathing. Definitely. Thank you so much.
Suzanne: Yeah, I mean, I started taking lessons when I was in high school, and it was just an older lady who had been a singer and retired, and she taught kids or whatever.
…Last question. Do you have any other projects coming up you can tell us about?
Jacky: No, right now I’m just auditioning.
Suzanne: Okay, good. Well, I hope he gets something; I’ll be rooting for you.
Jacky: Thank you.
Suzanne: You’ve done so much already and all your series that you’ve done; I’m sure you’ll find something.
Jacky:
Thank you. I’m manifesting. I kind of want to play the opposite of Suzy. Manifesting that.
Suzanne: You’ve been in quite a few sci-fi type things. Do you like doing that kind of thing?
Jacky: I do. I love it. I think, you know, there’s a great calling for it, and I think it’s a great way to expand our imagination, but I’m really excited for my for my family to be able to watch A Sugar & Spice Holiday and be able to understand what’s going on. Sci-fi is not very easy for them, being English is their second language.
Suzanne: Oh, okay. Yeah, this should be pretty easy for them to figure out. Alright. Well, thanks. I really appreciate you talking to me.

Interview Transcribed by Jamie of http://www.scifivision.com

MORE INFO:

Jacky Lai is a stunning beauty whose contagious smile and warm personality on and off-screen have landed her countless opportunities. Jacky took a leap of faith in 2014 to uproot her life in Toronto and move to Vancouver to pursue her dreams of acting. Jacky always knew her true calling was for the arts and her body of work in Film and Television since is a testament to her belief being more than just a hunch. Jacky’s upcoming leading role in Netflix’s vampire series“V-Wars” will continue to demonstrate her rising star power and enigmatic presence.Jacky is a Toronto native who had everything she needed on the east coast, supportive friends and family and a stable and growing career in developing small businesses. But she knew that her passion for acting was too great to set aside as a hobby. In the summer of 2014, Jacky made a quick and swift decision to move across the country to Vancouver, leaving everything and everyone she knew behind. Since relocating, Jacky has appeared in The CW’s “The Flash”, and CBS ’ “Ransom” and had recurring roles on Freeform’s “Beyond”, “Shadowhunters” and ABC’s “Once Upon a Time”. Jacky has also appeared in the feature film SILENT HILL: REVELATION. Jacky’s latest project, which will be released on December 5th, is already receiving a lot of buzz. Jacky co-stars alongside Ian Somerhalder of The CW’s “Vampire Diaries” fame and Adrian Holmes of Bravo’s “19-2” in Netflix’s horror, scifi series “V-Wars” which will bring to life the beloved graphic novels by Jonathan Maberry and Alan Robinson. Jacky will also appear in the indie feature FALL BACK DOWN which will have its world premiere at the Whistler Film Festival on December 5th.

A Sugar & Spice Holiday is about Suzie (Lai), a rising young architect, returns to her small hometown in Maine for Christmas where, her Chinese American family runs the local Lobster Bar. Following the loss of her beloved grandmother who was a legendary baker in their community, Suzie is guilted into following in her grandmother’s footsteps by entering the local gingerbread house competition.  Teaming up with an old high school friend Billy (Giroux), who grew up to be a catch, Suzie must find the right recipes and mix of sugar and spice to win the competition and perhaps find some love in the process.  The movie stars Jacky Lai, Tony Giroux and Tzi Ma.

Stills from of "A Sugar & Spice Holiday" on Lifetime 12/13/20

Proofread and Edited by Brenda

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Jacky Lai of "A Sugar & Spice Holiday" on Lifetime

Interview with Tim Reid

TV Interview!

Tim Reid Actor, Comedian, Filmmaker and Social Activist was the guest speaker at the United States Department of Agriculture Black History Month celebration “Black Women in American Culture and History” in Washington, DC Thursday, February 16, 2012. Reid spoke of the importance of women in his family, life and of the contributions of Black women to American history. Reid produced a documentary for USDA Cultural Transformation.

Interview with Tim Reid of “A Welcome Home Christmas” on Lifetime by Suzanne 10/28/20

I really enjoyed this interview. Most people are probably familiar with his work through his many roles, starting with Venus Flytrap in “WKRP in Cinncinnati,” or Lt. Brown in “Simon & Simon,” Ray in “Sister, Sister,” Bishop Jeffries in “Greenleaf,” or his many other roles. I just loved him in those first two series, so I made sure to watch him after that. I’m a huge fan. He’s a brilliant person and activist as well as actor and filmmaker. He’s not the star of this Lifetime holiday movie, but he’s an important part of it.  Don’t miss it because it’s fun, romantic and inspiring.

Suzanne:   So, how did your part in this movie come about?

Tim:   Someone called me, and I said, “Yes.” The old fashioned way.

Suzanne:   Oh!  So, do you find that you don’t have to interview so much anymore? They just call you?

Tim:   No, sometimes. You know, I’ve been fortunate enough to have done a Christmas movie for the last, I guess, four or five years, and I’ve done a couple of them through Lifetime, Oprah, and a few other places, Hallmark. So, they were familiar with my work and thought that I would fit the role of General O’Toole. I said, “Yes.” I got the script, and I liked it. It was dealing with something that’s current today: soldiers and coming home and some of the angst that they go through. I thought, “Oh, it’s a nice theme; it’s a different way to do a Christmas movie.” So, I came on, and they did a wonderful job.

Suzanne:   Yeah, I watched it. It was good. I enjoyed it.

Tim:   I was pleased to be a part of it.

Suzanne:   Were you familiar with any of the cast and crew?

Tim:   Not before. Well, of course, Charlene [Tilton], I knew her from from the old days, but other than Charlene, I did not know the other actors. [They were] very nice actors and good people.

We were all under a very difficult shoot, because we one of the first movies, if not the first movie, to have to operate under the new rules and regulations from both unions, SAG-AFTRA, and DGA and APSE, and so we were sort of like the test case. It was very difficult, but that being said, I applaud the crew and the production team and, of course, the cast for putting up with these rules. There wasn’t anything that anybody could do to stop it. I mean, our businesses look different than the rest of the world, because we have not only strong unions, but we have a sense – we know our business is a very dangerous business. People don’t realize how dangerous making a movie can be, but it is, and it’s one that doesn’t have a lot of tolerance for debate. It is very dictatorial, based on you take the job, the calls for you to do a particular task, lighting, acting, whatever, makeup, and you’re told these are the rules. You have to wear a mask, and you can’t take that mask off until the director yells action, if you’re an actor. If you’re not an actor, you don’t take it off at all. And you will be tested. Every other day, someone will stick a cotton swab up your nose, and you will do that every other day.

Now you have the option of saying, “You are violating my rights,”  [but] then you go home, and somebody else will come in and do that job. So, if you don’t want to do it, don’t come. If you come, these are the rules.

And I think because of that, it was very difficult when you’ve got so many people, actors and crews, and you have to be tested; the cost of that, one hundred dollars a pop. We were there three weeks. We had to stay in quarantine for one full week, because somebody did come down [with it], were tested positive, I should say. So, from that point on, I was under quarantine in a hotel in the middle of somewhere in Tennessee, where I think you’d go for witness protection, but there was nothing going on there, and the hotel was on lockdown, so I couldn’t leave. I was stuck there for several days in the middle of this pandemic, and it was a test of character for everybody.

And you’ve got to remember, when we’re shooting, you see these wonderful shots of us, and there’s no masks. The directors just yells, “Roll camera,” and everybody who’s in front of the camera takes off their mask. Everybody behind the camera, every human being, has a mask on. You know, we’re supposed to be playing winter, right? It’s 85 degrees, and I got on a coat, and we’ve got snow, fake snow, around, and you’ve got to act like it’s cold. Imagine working with a mask on at 80 something degrees, carrying heavy equipment and all of that. It wasn’t an easy job, but everybody worked hard. I think the look of it is certainly good, and the performances are good, but I give my hat to the crew and the production unit, because it was like a war. I mean, it really was difficult for them, more so than I’ve ever had to go through anything like that.

Now everybody has to do it; we were some of the first to do it, but we pulled it off. I appreciate the opportunity. I learned from it, and I applied it in my work and what we’re doing.

Suzanne:   Good. Yeah, when I watched it, it was a very rough take, and I’m used to seeing the screeners ahead of time, but it seemed like there was more than usual of these little things where it said [on the screen] , “visual effects, add snow,” whatever.

Tim:   Well, yeah, it was 80, 90 degrees some days, and it was for the exterior stuff. It was not easy, but even interior is hot inside. We’re in hangars and offices and, you know, air conditioning is in some of these buildings. They were not active buildings, because the quarantine closed down the city. I mean, this town was pretty much shut down. So, it was an interesting shoot.

Suzanne:   I’m sure. I’m hearing that a lot from various people I’ve been interviewing. It sort of adds an interesting layer to the interviews, that people have been talking about the pandemic or the shooting.

Tim:   Well, it tests your character, that’s for sure. But here’s the news: if you don’t want to do the job, go home; somebody else will do it.

Suzanne:   I thought it was funny when they paired your character with Charlene Tilton. She’s so much shorter than you are.

Tim:   Yes, I’ve known Charlene from way back when she was on Dallas. So, when they told me I was working with her, I said, “Oh, wonderful,” and then I thought, “Oh my god, she comes to my elbow, but we worked it out, [with] a few apple boxes here and there. We were fine. I hadn’t seen her in many, many years.

Suzanne:   Yeah, she’s looking good.

Tim:   Yeah, she’s hanging in there. She’s still got that vivacious character and fun sense of humor.

Suzanne:   It added to the comedy of the of the characters, I think, that she’s so much shorter than you are.

Tim:   Yes. It does happen in real life.

Suzanne:   So, I was in high school when WKRP was on. So, I remember watching you on that, and I loved Simon & Simon, and I watched Frank’s Place, and I really loved Linc’s; I wanted to tell you.

Tim:   Wow, [that’s rare] for somebody bring that up. That was my pet project.

Suzanne:   I was so upset when it didn’t go longer than a couple years.

Tim:   I’m upset that they won’t give me the 33 episodes. I did 33 episodes. I’m trying to get them back, because they deficit financed Viacom Productions, then they were sold to CBS. So, I’ve been trying to get them back, because I want to put them on streaming, then do maybe four more, five more episodes of today. You know, those people today, those who would come and then are recasted. But I thought now that show would be a wonderful show. Just think of the politics we could get into.

Suzanne:   I think it was a little bit ahead of its time, right?

Tim:   Yeah. I’m tired of being ahead of the time. Linc’s was ahead of the time. I want to be right up with what’s happening.

Suzanne:   Well, that was the first time I noticed – I don’t know if it was her first role, but Golden Brooks.

Tim:   It was her first role.

Suzanne:   She was so great.

Tim:   Also, a young man who played the cab driver from Nigeria in the first 10 or 12 episodes, he went on to do Oz and is big time actor now. That was his first job.

Suzanne:   So, which role do people usually recognize your most for?

Tim:   It depends on the age. I’ve been around for almost 45 years in the business, so, you know, your father and grandfather would know me from WKRP. Some baby boomers would know me from, like you say, Simon & Simon or That 70’s Show, and then the young people know me from Sister, Sister.

Suzanne:   Yeah, and I guess that’s streaming somewhere too.

Tim:   Yeah, it’s setting a record. I mean, it’s the most watch streaming show on Netflix of any brought  back show like that. So, people are finding it, and I think the timing of what’s going on with young people, especially the Z generation, they’re seeing themselves reflected in the show in a way that normally wouldn’t take the time to watch, but because everybody’s in lock down, I think [binge-watching] is helping a show like that. Once a week, it’s hard to stay in tune to the characters, but when you watch three or four of them in a row, you are there. You’re into these characters. You watch the nuances and the pathos and all that stuff that’s happening. You don’t see on them; you forget, but when you’re in it [you do]. And I’ve had some correspondence with people who are watching, and they’re saying, basically, that they saw it in reruns, but they never knew this was going on, the lessons.

Suzanne:   Yeah, I think there’s a lot of 90s nostalgia right now, too, so there’re a lot of people who grew up watching those shows that are going back and finding them.

Tim:   Yeah.

Suzanne:   Tell me about your new streaming network.

Tim:   Legacy of a People Network, that’s the full title, but the logo title is LGCY of a People Network. That’s what you can find me on; if you go on our webpage, it will be LGCY of a People Network. I chose a platform and advertising based platform to put all the content on, but what you do, if you go to my webpage, is you’re one click away from any title that you see there. We are trying to create a more international view of the African diaspora wherever they may find themselves. We have production, connections and talent, behind the camera talent, writers, producers, in London, in Nigeria, and Ethiopia, and now in South Africa, and they will be providing the original content and some of their other content.

Then, of course, I’m doing original content here. We’re going to be doing some talent; we’ve got some exciting talent coming up. We’ve got a young lady from South Africa, who is in the mole of Trevor Noah. I’m giving her a show called The Theta Show. It’s a talk show, but it starts out small, 15 to 20 minutes, and then we’ll see where we go with it. She’s very funny, a great singer and opinionated, feminist, and I think there’s nothing like that in the nighttime programming in America. So, hopefully, she’ll find a spot.

All these shows, they’re organically being created. So, we’re following how people respond to them and the subject matter, but I’ve seen so far three or four episodes, and I’m very excited about where this could go and how a talent could come out of it.

 

We have a young lady from Ethiopia doing cooking, lifestyle, and fashion, and Sally May, she’s an international model and all that, so we’re trying to bring it in. And we can redo a fitness show from someone. Again, these are a more personality driven shows as opposed to about fitness, but she’s certainly gonna shake up a few things with what she’s doing.

And I’m doing some stuff; we’re doing a talk show. Well, actually, it’s not a talk show. I call it a documentary. It’s a combination documentary talk show. We’ve done five episodes.

So, things like that. We’ve just going out there and seeing what we can do and give a different view of culture. You know, see it through someone else’s eyes for a while.

Suzanne:   Yeah, I looked it over briefly. Interesting!

Suzanne:   So, what have you been doing to keep busy during the pandemic?

Tim:   Just what I just explained. I think one thing I didn’t realize, is that launching a network was going to be [so] involved, other than just content as it is. I had just returned from shooting over in Ethiopia. We went on lockdown. So, that is what actually caused me to think about doing the channel once on lockdown. You know, we’ve got to finish work we do on this project. So, I thought, you know what? I got all this stuff in my library, and I know these filmmakers, emerging filmmakers, why don’t we just put up something and stream it out there? So, I got this idea probably in March. It’s been in the back of my head for a while, but, I mean, I would say the idea I got the boldness to do it in March, and we took off from there.

So, I’ve been busy, busier than I imagined to be. My studio is a media center; it’s only about 10 minutes from where I live here in Richmond. So, between this and my home, is where I’ve been, and we try to keep them safe and clean, and very few people are involved. We never have more than three or four people in our shoot or wherever it is at one time, and everybody wears masks. So, it’s been easier to adapt to that kind of working atmosphere. So, we’ve been very busy. I did travel to shoot the movie. Other than that, that’s all I’ve been doing, creating content.

Suzanne:   Most of the things you’ve mentioned were nonfiction. Are you going to have fictional content as well?

Tim:   Yeah, we have in the movie shorts – I call them shorter shorts – you will find a lot of fictional [content]. As a matter of fact, we just we put up a couple of sci-fi pieces from one of my associates in London, and we will be adding more movies. The movies, of course, are the hardest thing to really get, but I wanted where we just put a movie up. I want to do sort of a Turner Classic movie style. In other words, context; I want to put the movie in context. I want somebody to talk about what was going on in the world when the movie was made, how the movie either was affected by what was going on or affected what was going on, and then in the end, what happened to these people? Who were they? Even in a classic movie.

So, the ones we have up now, one of my favorite movies that fits now, is Native Son, the original Native Son, with the writer, an author playing himself in it.

Then we have a movie from London, one of my associates in London, his movie, Emotional Backgammon. That is a mystery shocker at the end, but again, deals with the issues that are in our [world] now.

Then we have two more coming. We have a movie with people Sidney Poitier and Eartha Kit and [John] McIntyre from the 50s, I think, called The Mark of the Hawk, and it deals with the Mau Mau rebellion in Kenya.

So, those, and then we’re doing another movie; we’re bringing a movie from Ethiopia that will be subtitled about the war in Ethiopia, but it’s a love story. Different things that you won’t see on normal television.

Suzanne:   That sounds interesting. I’m gonna have to check that out.

Tim:   Yeah, it’s called “Here’s to Movies,” and if you go to our page, you’ll see a little thing, click on it, and it will take you straight there. Hopefully, I mean, what I want the page to be, is one click away from anything that we have.

Suzanne:   You mentioned Native Son. Is that by Richard Wright?

Tim:   Yes, Richard Wright.

Suzanne:   I read that a while ago.

Tim:   This was the movie that he made…It’s from the 50s; I think 52 or 53.

Suzanne:   I have to watch that.

So, do you have anything else coming out that you can tell us about?

Tim:   I can say I’m springing talent. We have some new programs. Every week, I put up something new, a lot of documentaries, a lot of lifestyles.

We just put up a new cooking show, I mean, a new episode of the cooking show, and we’re going to add stuff every week; there’s going to be something new going up.

I’m launching a comedian out of South Africa, probably in two weeks, putting her up, and we have a thing called “She Speaks,” which is going to be a a piece for women, spoken word artists. I’m going to have – I already shot some time ago a thing with Nikki Giovanni, she will speak. I’ve got a young lady named Gina Loring out of LA, who’s a very powerful spoken word artist. It’s a place where women can go in and say and respond the way that they feel and not become concerned about staying within any kind of format. So, I have offered it to about three women, and one of them has already sent something out, and that’s gonna go up probably in another two weeks, week after next. So, things like that.

I want to give people a voice. It’s time we see the world through other eyes instead of the standard structure of network television, or even Netflix. I mean, Netflix is gobbling up as much content as they possibly can. I understand that. But, again, context, you know?

Suzanne:   It seems to be, I don’t know if it’s just a temporary thing or if it’s gonna keep going, but it does seem like the networks are all doing a lot more African American content and stars than they were before.

Tim:   Yes, they are acquiring it, and I think that the talent pool is so large; it’s so great, so many different kinds of talent both in front of behind the camera, but my major push, and it’s not a complaint, it’s a reality, is until we get people within the confines of the corporations that make decisions, the green lighters, a lot of this stuff is still going to be filtered. In other words, it has to fit the format of the controlling the people who control the propaganda; let’s put it in a very direct way. So, I hope, and I know that there are people out there who want to be free of that and begin to reveal culture through their eyes and not have to put the filter, the confines of the structure of the network, or we only do things that are this kind of stuff, but we want to do stuff that relates to this and have a place where you can go and someone says to you, as I’m saying to these creative people, “Tell us your story, and explain it, and express it in the way that you feel best suits your your purpose. What’s your purpose? Who’s your audience?” And I know, in the time that I’ve produced television for network, you seldom get that. You have a structure; you have a genre. You have this, and within that.

I mean, you look back at comedies. Until recently, 95% of all comedies were written and created by white people.

Suzanne:   Right.

Tim:   Black comedies, I mean. Not just comedies. People are asking me about Seinfeld. They said, “Were you a fan of Seinfeld?” I said, “Not really.” It wasn’t that I didn’t like it, but there were never any black people on it. Why would I sit down and watch something – [It was] one of the reasons I didn’t go to Woody Allen movies; why would I go to a Woody Allen movie? There are no [black] people. It doesn’t sound anything like the reality that I live in.

But we’re now beginning to see from all kinds of structures, you know, comedies that deal more from the propaganda point of view of the creators. I like that. I mean, that’s storytelling, I like to see people who have the ability to tell their story, their way.

Suzanne:   Yeah, we need more shows like Black-ish. That’s a good one; I love that show.

Tim:   I have not watched it. I think I watched one episode.

…We have a tendency in our business, and it’s a very crude way to say it, but we eat our own waste, you know what I mean? It’s like, if you’re going to be a creator, you have to be able to – first you study the masters. You learn your craft; you find a style and a master that makes you feel like this. “This is the path that will allow me to discover myself.” Once you do discover yourself, then you have to become a master. You have to begin to create the kind of things that someone else will want to follow. And I think be free to tell your story, you have to have people who will commit, to give you that freedom.

I think that Netflix, Apple Plus, and all that stuff, they are [going in] the right direction. However, when you start something, the first thing you do is bring in the old players. You go to your tried and true. So, that’s not really doing anything dangerous. Of course, Spielberg’s going to give you a good show, of course, you know, all the people – I just saw on Comedy Central, Jon Stewart has gotten a show. Great; that’s wonderful, but that’s not being daring.

Give me a show like I’m giving this young lady out of South Africa; give somebody a show who has talent and enhance the passion and see what they can come up with. If it works, it works. If it doesn’t, it will not. So, I don’t see that kind from the people who control the space and the time. They’ll try things, and if it works, it works, but as soon as it works, then it becomes the model for everybody else, but there’s an incredible talent pool out there in all cultures. [There’s] a great talent pool, and I think the young generation, especially z generation, are more interested now in new and interesting concepts, because they’ve got to create a new world for us, because we can’t do it, obviously. If this the world that we have created, if this is what we plan as a model, we’re in deep trouble. So, we need some young energy, some passion, that will say, “All right, I don’t like what you guys have done. I’m going to do it this way.” Now, we’re not going to like that, but out of that will come a new thing, and I think that change is a wonderful thing. We need to change more, give opportunity for change, us old timers.

Suzanne:   Right. I think there should be more dramas. You see a lot of black comedies and soap operas dramas, but you don’t see shows like – well, take that one that you did a long while ago, Snoops. You don’t see any cop shows or private eyes or anything different than just, you know, soap operas, really.

Tim:   Well, you know, I say, stealing from the masses, Snoops was literally The Thin Man. That’s what it was…The network just could not get their head around it, and the audience.

I remember one of the worst write-ups I’ve ever had for anything I’ve ever created for television came out of the New York Post. I can’t think of the guy’s name, but he was a serial writer for New York. He basically said, “Snoops, out there, Tim Reid, at a time when black people are struggling and living in the thing, he comes out with a show with this state department professor at Georgetown, how dare him. He’s not showing real black life,” and I’m going, “What? This is insane.” In other words, you know, Jared said a few weeks ago that we should all pull ourselves up by our bootstraps, and most of us don’t want to do it, but then, when you do it, you’re criticized for portraying a world that they can’t comprehend. In other words, he can’t comprehend that a black woman would be working for the State Department and a black man is a professor at Georgetown. He just couldn’t comprehend them living in in Georgetown. I was like, “Oh man, this is sad.” You know, what hurt me about the review, is he didn’t really review the show; it’s just he was so upset that I had the audacity to put a whirl in, when I’m saying, “Even then I knew black billionaires.” I knew people better than those two characters, but unless you can conceive of that –

There’s a wonderful show coming out of South Africa called Queen Sono.

Suzanne:   Yeah, that’s really good; I saw that.

Tim:   Is that not a wonderful show?

Suzanne:   It is.

Tim:   I love the writing, because I love how they have exposed apartheid. They actually pulled the curtain back and showed you the man behind the curtain, and in that way they tell the story. And I’m like, “Wow, these guys are awake.” They are writing some really interesting scenarios in a drama format, and the young lady, she’s incredible. I mean, she makes James Bond look like a wimp, but I like that, and it’s coming out of South Africa, and it’s well done. It looks good. It has great use of of camera work and lighting and wardrobe. More of those. I want to see those come from not just [there]. I certainly love this country, and now that I can’t travel anywhere else, I gotta love it more, but there are so many other cultures, including of the African diaspora, that should be exposed. Nigeria is beginning to get exposed more about fashion, out of Ghana. I mean, there’re some exciting things happening, as opposed to just what’s happening in the world of hip hop, the world in America. You know, all of entertainment in America is focused around 40 some million people, but there are 20 million Caribbean’s; there are 110 million Ethiopians. There are 180 million Nigerians. The African continent is a billion people of African descent. You got 10, 12 million Europeans. How are they living?

Suzanne:   Well, I think that’s one good thing about Netflix, is they have a lot of shows that Americans wouldn’t see otherwise. They have a lot of foreign shows on there.

Tim:   Yes, and they’re changing, you know, until they run out of money, and if they keep doing what they’re doing, they will do that soon, but they are the only – There are a lot of people following them that try and do [that], but they are the first ones to realize that if you just keep eating the same diet, it’s going to affect [things], because they’re global. I mean, my little thing is global. You can reach me anywhere in the world on the internet. So, I’m global.

Here is the audio version of it.

Interview Transcribed by Jamie of http://www.scifivision.com

MORE INFO:

Jana Kramer and Brendan Quinn star in "A Welcome Home Christmas" on Lifetime Saturday, 11/7/20. Photo by Brandon Bassler.

A Welcome Home Christmas Starring Jana Kramer, Brandon Quinn, Tim Reid, Charlene Tilton, Craig Morgan
11/7 at 8pm ET/PT Repeats on Veteran’s Day 11/11

Chloe (Jana Kramer) has always supported various military organizations, including the town’s Army toy drive for Christmas.  This year, she is paired up with Michael (Brandon Quinn), a vet who recently returned home, and together they recruit other veterans and active military personnel to help in the cause. As the community gears up for the Officer’s Christmas Ball, where all the kids will meet Santa Claus and receive their gifts, Michael and Chloe begin to realize the greatest gift this season has been each other’s company. Craig Morgan also stars. A Welcome Home Christmas is produced by Johnson Production Group with Timothy O. Johnson and Michael Vickerman serving as executive producers. Brian Herzlinger directs from a script by T. Booker James.

Tim Reid’s bio from IMDB

Tim Reid was born December 19, 1944 in Norfolk, Virginia and came from a troubled, impoverished childhood. He straightened out his life enough to attend Norfolk State College (now University) and graduate with a business administration degree. He worked for Du Pont in Chicago for a period of time in the late 60s and married his first wife Rita, whom he met at college. They had two children, Tim Reid II (born 1968) and Tori Reid (born 1971); both are currently involved in entertainment. His first taste of the limelight came around the turn of the 70s when he met an insurance agent named Tom Dreesen, and the two of them decided to form a nightclub act called “Tim and Tom”. Within six years, both the team and his first marriage had dissolved. At this juncture, Tim decided to focus completely on acting, took up drama classes, and worked as a comic. TV and commercial work started coming his way, finding regular placements on a number of variety series that starred Frankie Avalon, The 5th Dimension singers Marilyn McCoo and Billy Davis Jr., and Richard Pryor in the late 70s.

His biggest break, however, came after nabbing the cool and very hip role of “Venus Flytrap” on TV’s WKRP in Cincinnati (1978). It is this radio disc jockey character for which Tim is still best known. Other TV series came his way, including Simon & Simon (1981) as Lt. Marcel “Downtown” Brown. Once firmly established, Tim started taking more control over his career. After fronting a number of series including Frank’s Place (1987), Snoops (1989) and, most notably, Sister, Sister (1994), he and wife, Daphne Reid, co-founded their own production studio (New Millenium Studios), the first ever built in his native state of Virginia. The short-lived program Linc’s (1998), starring both Tim and Daphne, was the first to come out of the studio. Over the years, Daphne has been a frequent partner to Tim both in front and behind the camera lens, as actress and co-producer. Toning down his slick facade over the years, the handsome, mustachioed actor has dedicated himself to films and other projects that have raised social issues as well as increase black awareness. More recently, in 2002, he released his film For Real (2003), which was made at his studio. It took an updated African-American spin on the “Pygmalion” story and starred Tim in the “Henry Higgins” role. The film opened the fifth anniversary of the Hollywood Black Film Festival.

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Tim Reid as General O'Toole in "A Welcome Home Christmas" on Lifetime. Photo be Brandon Bassler.

Happy Holidays!





Blog Post #208

Happy Holidays!

Our new site is here at https://tvmeg.com as of this week! Hooray! It may be a wee bit premature, with most of our new content still over on The TV MegaSite, but I’m confident that we’ll be able to move a lot of content over in the next few months. I wanted to make sure that people can find us at our new home because I had new business cards made, and because I sent them out in my Christmas cards to a lot of people! I wanted to make sure that they pointed to the right place.

new card

This week I’ll start moving over the daytime soap pages and updating the content. Hopefully that won’t take too long. Once we get that done, then we’ll no longer have to archive all of the week’s pages and make new ones, which is a big hassle. Brenda will be free to do other great things on the site!  There are only 4 daytime soaps, so it shouldn’t be too difficult. For now, we’ll leave the older shows where they are.

After that, we can start moving over the Primetime show pages. I’m trying to figure out a way to put up our weekly news and schedule here in WordPress that will be both easier for us to write, and easier for you to read.

Besides working on this site, I’m also a part-time student, and finals are next week, so hopefully that won’t make things too difficult.  Christmas often takes up a lot of time because I like to have a lot of decorations, send out a lot of cards, and make a lot of cookies! This year I’ll have help putting up the decorations, at least.

Speaking of holidays, I hope you can spend some time watching holiday movies because there sure are a lot of them on the tube, especially Hallmark, Lifetime, and Freeform.  That’s not even to mention the old favorites and specials that are everywhere. And if you can’t find them on regular TV, I’m sure you can find them on Netflix, Hulu, Amazon or somewhere else streaming.  What’s your favorite holiday movie? What’s your favorite holiday TV special or episode?  Let us know in the comments below. My favorite holiday movie is probably “Miracle on 34th Street” (1934) with a young Natalie Wood (you can watch it for free on YouTube!). I also love the musical “Scrooge!” from the 70’s (also free on YouTube!). I always love the specials, too, that I grew up with, like “A Charlie Brown Christmas,” “Rudolph the Red-Nose Reindeer” and “How the Grinch Stole Christmas.” I’m sure that people who are younger than I am have their own favorites, like “Elf” or “The Santa Claus” or “Christmas Vacation.”  There’s no wrong answer!

I know it’s a little early to talk about the holidays (or maybe it just seems that way to me), but this year it seems like we really need some holiday cheer, with so many terrible things going on in the world. I know I do!

Every year, some of the great TV networks, or the people who make their DVD’s, ask if we’re going to do a “Holiday Guide.” I should have made it back a few months ago, but I finally did get it done. It only took me 3 days! During Thanksgiving! I hope you can check it out if you want to buy any DVD’s for yourself or your family. They make great gifts.

When I made out my holiday cards, that includes the 20 or so I sent out to our volunteers.  We have a great group of people that work on our site, writing fan fiction, recaps, updates, scoops, forum posts and more.  Every year, I send them all holiday cards, along with an Amazon gift card. I can’t afford to pay anyone, even myself, so this is the way I can show that I appreciate them.  I wish I could do more!

Christmas Wish

Maybe one day the site will make enough money to pay us…that’s what I’m hoping, anyway. That’s why I’m taking classes and working to improve the site. This time of year, it’s easy to believe that all our wishes can come true.  I hope yours do, too!

~ Suzanne

Here are all of our Articles!



TV Movies and Specials DVD Guide

Page 3 – Holiday Movies and Specials

Click on the title to get information about the DVD and to buy it from Amazon. com!

These make great gifts for your favorite TV or movie fan and helps out our site…

How the Grinch Stole Christmas DVD coverHow the Grinch Stole Christmas: Ultimate Edition Dr. Seuss’ timeless classic comes to life in a shiny all-new Ultimate Edition of How the Grinch Stole Christmas, now with 2 newly remastered Grinch Specials: The Grinch Grinches the Cat in the Hat and Halloween is GrinchThe Christmas Train DVD cover Night! With Who-ville brimming with joyful anticipation of Christmas, high above in the chilly mountains, the Grinch shares no such warmth for the holiday. Why this green meanie has hatched a plan to do away with Christmas once and for all! Featuring animation by the legendary Chuck Jones, bring home this heartfelt reason for the Yul-tide season.

Hallmark Hall of Fame: The Christmas Train From Hallmark Hall of Fame comes a story about the journalist who embarks on a cross-country train ride at Christmas, having no idea this journey will take him into the rugged terrain of his own heart.

Christmas at Holly Lodge DVD coverChristmas At Holly Lodge When a major developer sends Evan to evaluate the value of Holly Lodge, he and lodge owner Sophie have an instant attraction. But when Sophie realizes the reason for Evan’s stay, she must convince him the lodge is a bad investment- while trying not Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer Deluxe Editionto fall in love.

Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer Deluxe Edition Have a holly jolly Christmas with the most famous reindeer of all in the original holiday special, Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer! After being told he could not play in any Reindeer Games due to his glowing nose, Rudolph sets out on a fantastic journey where he meets Hermey the elf, prospector Yukon Cornelius and a host of Misfit Toys, all while trying to hide from the Abominable Snow Monster. It’s a race against time as his family and Clarice try to find him during a big snowstorm that threatens to cancel Christmas. Based on the timeless story and song, the Rankin/Bass production of Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer features groundbreaking “Animagic” stop-motion animation, narration by Burl Ives and unforgettable Dashing Through the Snow DVD coversongs including “A Holly Jolly Christmas,” “Silver and Gold” and “We’re a Couple of Misfits”. It’s pure holiday magic for the entire family!

Debbie Macomber’s Dashing Through the Snow Based on a novel by Debbie Macomber, this yuletide movie tells the story of Ashley Harrison (Meghan Ory) and Dash Sutherland (Andrew W. Walker). Ashley, who is based in San Francisco, is desperate to spend the holidays with her family in Seattle and Dash is also in a rush to get there. When Ashley encounters a problem with her reservation at the airport ticket counter, she attempts to rent a car. But there s just one vehicle left and Dash beats her to it. Reluctantly, Ashley takes him up on his offer to join him on a road trip. Will this unexpected bump in the road lead them down a path to romance?

Murdoch Mysteries: Home For the Holidays Dashing detective William Murdoch (Yannick Bisson, Sue Thomas: Murdoch Mysteries: Home For the Holidays DVD coverF.B.Eye) must solve a holiday whodunit in this feature-length special of the award-winning mystery series set in Edwardian Toronto. Days before Christmas, Murdoch and his wife, Dr. Julia Ogden (Gemini winner Hélène Joy, Durham County), travel to Victoria, British Columbia, to spend time with Murdoch’s eccentric brother. But instead of a relaxing holiday with Jasper (Dylan Neal, Dawson’s Creek) and his family, they end up investigating a murder at an archaeological site.
Back in Toronto, Constables Crabtree (Jonny Harris, Still Standing) and Higgins (Lachlan Murdoch, Copper) try to impress their sweethearts before a skiing outing, and Inspector Brackenreid (Thomas Craig, Where the Heart Is) and his wife invest in a money-making scheme run by a man Christmas Connection DVD covernamed Ponzi. Guest stars include Kate Hewlett (The Girlfriend Experience), Jake Epstein (Degrassi: The Next Generation), and Megan Follows (Reign, Anne of Green Gables).

Christmas Connection Flight attendant Sydney is tasked with looking after Leah, an unaccompanied minor. After Leah is safely delivered to her father, Jonathan, Sydney finds a package Leah left behind and delivers it to Leah. She ends up missing her connection and Jonathan invites her to spend the holidays with them. Starring Brooke Burns and Tom Everett Scott.

The Sound Of Music Live  The beloved family classic comes alive once again! The world’s most popular musical, The Sound of Music Live DVD coverRodgers and Hammerstein’s The Sound Of Music, comes brilliantly to life in this ambitious, live-broadcast production from BAFTA-nominated director Coky Giedroyc!
The spectacular Kara Tointon (Mr Selfridge, EastEnders) delivers a “mesmerizing performance and incredible vocal talents”, (Daily Mail) as Maria, the tomboyish nun who reluctantly becomes the governess for seven children living in the shadow of their stern widower father (Julian Ovenden, Downton Abbey). Along with her required duties, Maria brings love, music and excitement back into the children’s lives … and also eventually begins to have an effect on their father. But just when things are looking up, the rise of Nazism and the looming threat of war darkens their future …
Supported by Katherine Kelly (Mr Selfridge, Coronation Street) as Baroness Elsa Schraeder and Alexander Armstrong (The Armstrong And Miller Show, Danger Mouse) as Max Detweiler, The Sound Of Music Live is an enchanting experience that will remain with you long after the last curtain call.

A Christmas Story Live DVD coverA Christmas Story Live! A live musical event inspired by the perennial holiday movie favorite and the Tony Award-nominated Broadway musical production, A CHRISTMAS STORY LIVE! follows nine-year-old Ralphie Parker, who dreams of finding a genuine Red Ryder Carbine Action BB Gun under the tree on Christmas morning. The over-two-hour TV movie stars Maya Rudolph, Matthew Broderick, Jane Krakowski, Chris Diamantopoulos, Ana Gasteyer and talented newcomer Andy Walken as Ralphie. This winter-wonderful extravaganza features stunning choreography on massive sets and family-friendly songs with music and lyrics by Benj Pasek and Justin Paul, lyricists of La La Land’s Academy Award-winning* song, “City of Stars.” Get ready to sing and dance along to your new favorite holiday tradition!A Christmas Story DVD covers

A Christmas Story / A Christmas Story 2 Holiday Collection 1 and 2 This delightfully funny holiday gem tells the story of Ralphie Parker (Peter Billingsly) a 1940’s nine-year-old who pulls out all the stops to obtain the ultimate Christmas present. Plus: The original, classic, holiday favorite continues five years later with Ralphie, Randy, Mom, and the Old Man. This time, Ralphie has his eyes fixed on a car… but trouble is sure to follow.

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