How a Particular Kind of Star's "Pivot to Christmas" Became a Career Expander

Some talent has come to view the Christmas movie industry as a haven and even an opportunity to experiment as it has evolved into a 365-day-a-year proposition.

Holly Robinson Peete, who starred in hit television series in the 1980s and 1990s like 21 Jump Street, Hanging With Mr. Cooper, and For Your Love, was 40 years old when she decided she didn't like her prospects in the film and television industries.

Holly Robinson Peete, who starred in hit television series in the 1980s and 1990s like 21 Jump Street, Hanging With Mr. Cooper, and For Your Love, was 40 years old when she decided she didn't like her prospects in the film and television industries. If she was fortunate enough to get any roles at all, she feared that they would primarily be grandma or aunt roles. Lori Loughlin, a friend and fellow star of the 1990s, then informed her of a location where actors are still playing romantic leads well into middle age and where it just so happens to be Christmas most of the year: the Hallmark Network

In a recent phone interview, Peete stated, "Now that I'm approaching 60, I'm still number one on the call sheet with lovely chocolate brown boys who are my love interest. Like, I'm not even an aunt.

You don't need Vanity Fair to know how popular Christmas and other holiday movies have become over the past five to ten years. Just switch to any streaming service or channel after October 21. There were over 120 produced this year alone, and Hallmark and Lifetime aren't the only ones who make Christmas-themed made-for-TV movies in the US. The recently revived, and swiftly divisive, Great American Family, as well as Up TV, BET, Netflix, AMC, and ABC, have all attempted to take a piece of the lucrative pie. This year, Coca-Cola even produced an anthology of holiday films.

However, alongside that boom, there has been a steady rise in the number of stable, well-paying acting jobs for a variety of performers. Through the Napster period and into the Spotify era, musicians have relied on holiday albums for a consistent triumph in record sales against the odds. See Michael Bublé, Justin Bieber, Idina Menzel, Mariah Carey, Barbra Streisand, and a plethora of others. Since Hallmark leaned heavily into Christmas more than ten years ago, those performers and actresses now have another chance to do the same. Although there are actors who break into the Christmas film industry, for some professionals with extensive résumés, the season may be a place to advance their careers both on and off camera. Now, practically anyone may fit in as long as they wish to integrate their brand with the typically moral and family-friendly content available.

With Falling for Christmas and a two-film agreement with Netflix, Lindsay Lohan is possibly the largest star for a certain audience to enter the 2022 market. This deal is largely seen as the actor's return. You can also discover Jonathan Bennett and Lacey Chabert at Hallmark, who are also Mean Girls co-stars with Lindsay Lohan. They also have Dermot Mulroney, the king of the rom-com, and Tamera Mowry-Housley from Sister. (There are some reactionaries within the "all cheer, all the time crowd. Candace Cameron Bure and Danica McKellar, who starred in The Wonder Years, were previously associated with Hallmark. However, last year, the two actors switched to the Christian-focused television series Great American Family, which was co-created by Bill Abbott, the former CEO of Hallmark's parent company Crown Media. Therefore, Bure has made a point of saying that LGBTQ+ tales shouldn't be expected.) Meanwhile, the on-screen talent at Lifetime is full of well-known names and faces: Kelly Rowland, Mario Lopez, Reba McEntire, Kelsey Grammer, Tia Mowry, Patti LaBelle, and Rita Moreno have all joined the cause. Lifetime, like Hallmark, switches its programming over to holiday content before the clock even strikes Halloween.

According to Amy Winter, executive vice president and head of programming at Lifetime, the "nostalgia factor" is definitely present in the performers that make a tremendous "get" in the genre. In addition to being known, the characters also have likability and relatability to everyone else in the season. You have the impression that you would become quick friends if you met them and they were in your vicinity. No matter how well-known they are, each of them is merely special in its own way.

And on occasion, the pairing is everything. Winter continued, "We were thrilled to work with Jane Seymour this year. "Then, we inquire as to whether we could be able to obtain Joe Lando. Because a Dr. Quinn reunion would be absolutely incredible. The audience loves it and understands it. There is a sentimental element to it.

These two former co-stars presented A Christmas Spark on Lifetime this year.

One benefit of the talent may be clear. In a world where rom-coms no longer frequently receive theater releases and the streaming environment is so fragmented, they are able to reach wider audiences. Every year it seems like a ratings story revolves around holiday programming. 2022 has not yet been any different. Nothing has been wrapped up yet, but according to Decider, Hallmark movies averaged two million viewers per by the beginning of December.

At some point in their careers, performers may also be searching for a participatory element. We take great care to make our talent feel valued and welcome because, as Lisa Hamilton Daly, executive vice president of programming for Hallmark Media, explained to me via email, "In the grand scheme of things, we are a small shop and our talent is our most valuable commodity. We want them to feel seen and heard, and we invite their creative input."

Peete continued, "It was the appreciation for my body of work, for my career. I executive produced The Christmas Doctor and A Family Christmas Gift, among other things. I was not subjected to an audition.

Lifetime has a similar emphasis on the rustic. The majority of the tales viewers see on television, especially when it comes to the big-name stars, originate directly from the actors, according to Tanya Lopez, the network's executive vice president in charge of scripted content. For her part in Christmas Ever After, Tony-winning actress Ali Stroker was allowed to make changes to the script that seemed accurate to her life in a wheelchair. But it didn't have to "feel like an after-school special," Lopez continued. She starred in a holiday film as the love interest.

And when Kelly Rowland and Lifetime were discussing prospective movies, she served as the inspiration for one of the network's most well-liked holiday movies. When Rowland and Lopez's team first met, it was in February. Rowland was still recovering from the trauma of having her entire family for Christmas, including her nieces and nephews, in her newly decorated home, which was freshly adorned in white from top to bottom.

Lopez remarked, "We were giggling because we could fully connect." We praised it as a fantastic holiday film, and that is how the Merry Liddle series got its start.

When it comes to these movies, Ebenezer Scrooge would have a lot to say. They are corny. They are irrational. They follow a formula. All of these criticisms are valid, yet viewers who watched them continually throughout Q4 often saw them as big pluses. The production's morality might be a positive trait for actors to align themselves with. Lopez mentioned Kelsey Grammer, who, if you're a certain age, you could recognize as the obnoxious character from Fraser or Cheers, and his daughter Spencer Grammer, who, if you're a different certain age, you might recognize from Greek.

The senior Grammer proposed his own daughter could star in the film he had in mind for the network, which would center on a tense father-daughter relationship. When Lifetime presented the notion to the younger Grammer, they may have unintentionally fulfilled the role of therapist or at least facilitated the connection. She says, "I need to talk to him," according to Lopez. They conversed, returned, and confirmed that they were interested. It was a wonderfully therapeutic Christmas movie.

Through the tale of a tense father-daughter relationship in this year's release, 12 Days of Christmas Eve, both Grammers have spoken about making peace.

Naturally, there are other performers whose holiday employment may have outpaced their prior careers. Lacey Chabert has starred in more than 30 Hallmark Christmas movies and has been compared to Mariah Carey (Mariah Carey being the undisputed, non-trademarked queen of Christmas music). Around the time Hallmark began airing the "Countdown to Christmas" programming, she and the network connected and haven't looked back since. She excels. She admitted that the schedule is demanding and that it may be sweltering outside when filming, but she loves the efficiency.

Chabert told me, "Shooting an entire movie in 15 days might be incredibly difficult, but for me, as a parent, with that schedule, I'm able to return back to my family." Naturally, I also spent time before to it developing and promoting the projects. However, most of the shots are out of town, so it's far easier for me to coordinate those with my family than a four- or five-month shoot.

Leaving out the journey. "I've also got the chance to travel the world while producing these films. If it weren't for the opportunity I had to film these movies, I might not have ever traveled to locations like Belgium, South Africa, Ireland, or Greece," she remarked. And I adore doing the ones that are shot on location because I believe that the viewer comes along because the nation in which we are shooting becomes a character in the picture.

In numerous interviews, Chabert, Peete, and many other holiday film professionals mention their real love of the season as one of the main factors contributing to their continued success. Why else would they not? They have prospects and huge, devoted fans thanks to capitalizing on the culture's love of comforting, pleasant holiday meals. At the end of the day, they are producing Christmas movies, and no matter how diverse and convoluted the storyline becomes, some themes always recur. Like any other career, you gain skills at the expense of variety. Peete claims to have attended "Hallmark University" and earned a "masters." First lesson: "At Hallmark, you have to realize that the cookie is the star in the cookie scene."

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