Word on the Street: Made-for-TV Film Projects, including a Hallmark series, in the Works

On July 24th, Google Trends Now reported a Christmas movie is about to begin filming in late August. So far, this film is titled ‘The Seek for Christmas’. But “that may most likely change earlier than it airs”, says Evergreen Movie Productions’ Daniel Lewis. Erin Cahill, an actress who has starred in five Hallmark films, will be the lead actress and a producer on the project, according to the article. Maclain Nelson has also been announced as the movie’s director. The production is being filmed in Natchez, Mississippi, which is located near the Louisiana border. Daniel said ‘The Seek for Christmas’ “is about three sisters who grew aside and their journey of discovering their manner again to one another over the Christmas vacation”. Daniel also said “that filmmakers did their analysis to make the film as authentically Natchez as attainable and have written Natchez Christmas traditions such because the annual Christmas parade into the script”. Even though Hallmark Channel is mentioned in the article and its title, the network has not confirmed their association to this movie, as of late July to early August 2021.

In Kemptville, Ontario, Canada, a Christmas movie has been in production since July 19th. Ashley Kulp, from Inside Ottawa Valley, writes that this movie is, so far, titled “The Christmas Campaign”. Filming locations in Kemptville have included “the former North Grenville District High School on Prescott Street” and downtown Kemptville. Almonte, Carp, and Ottawa have also been announced as filming locations. No story-related details or casting decisions have been made known at this time. Also, it is unknown where this movie will premiere.

The link to the articles I referenced in this post:

https://trends.blogdady.com/hallmark-channel-christmas-film-filming-in-natchez-in-august-mississippis-greatest-group-newspaper/

https://www.insideottawavalley.com/news-story/10442638-what-s-going-on-here-christmas-in-july-holiday-movie-being-filmed-in-kemptville/

Christmas themed movie tickets created Kraphix at freepik.com. <a href=’https://www.freepik.com/free-vector/movie-tickets-christmas_971544.htm’>Designed by Kraphix</a>. <a href=”https://www.freepik.com/free-photos-vectors/christmas”>Christmas vector created by Kraphix – Freepik.com</a>. Image found at freepik.com.

Angelique Jackson, from Variety, reported on July 28th about Hallmark’s plans to create television films based on the company’s Mahogany card line. The article states how these efforts will consist of “a quarterly slate of original movies coming to Hallmark Movies & Mysteries in early 2022”. The pre-production phase of the project started “in early 2021”, with Wonya Lucas, Crown Media Family Networks’ president and CEO, and Toni Judkins, Crown Media Family Network’s current programming and development senior VP, working to get the project off the ground. “Mahogany is a 34-year-old brand that has been an important part of the portfolio since its existence. So for us, it’s not an initiative; it’s bringing something to life through storytelling”, said Wonya. Toni responded to Variety by saying “It was a brand that I love and have known for decades. It just seemed like the most natural, authentic thing to do, to translate and take the inspiration behind the Mahogany card brand and bring it to air”.

This article from Variety mentions how Hallmark has big plans for their Mahogany series. Angelique writes how the network wants “to further expand the franchise to include podcasts and scripted series in the coming years”. According to the article, the Mahogany series is a stepping stone toward programming based on Hallmark’s other card lines, including Eight Bamboo, which highlights “Chinese values and customs”. But in order to make these big plans a reality, Hallmark needs big money to make them happen. In my last Word on the Street story, I speculated how Hallmark might not be as financially strong as in years past. This speculation is based on things happening with the company that I’ve seen and heard as a consumer of some of the network’s programming. To add to this, it should be noted that Hallmark Movies & Mysteries, the network that will host the Mahogany films, doesn’t have the strongest numbers in viewership. As of late July to early August 2021, the movie from Hallmark’s second network with the highest number in viewership was Aurora Teagarden Mysteries: Til Death Do Us Part, which garnered 1.6 million viewers. This number is lower than those from Hallmark Movies & Mysteries’ past films, with 2017’s Rocky Mountain Christmas receiving a record-breaking 2.18 million viewers. One of the reasons for these low numbers is how Hallmark Movies & Mysteries is a smaller network compared to the main Hallmark Channel. This means that the second network doesn’t have the same amount of sponsorship opportunities as the first network does. Because of Hallmark Movies & Mysteries’ smaller size and lower viewership, maybe Hallmark has been cancelling programs like Home & Family in order to put those finances and resources toward the Mahogany series? Like any film project in pre-production, we’ll just have to wait and see how this series will be carried through.

Links to the references I included in this post:

https://variety.com/2021/tv/news/hallmark-mahogany-card-line-tv-movies-2022-1235028599/

http://www.ratingsryan.com/2021/06/cable-tv-ratings-week-ending-june-13.html

https://web.archive.org/web/20171227121829/http://www.showbuzzdaily.com/articles/showbuzzdailys-top-150-friday-cable-originals-network-finals-12-22-2017.html

Christmas card image created by Freepik at freepik.com. <a href=’https://www.freepik.com/free-vector/christmas-card-with-watercolor-mistletoe-decoration_965555.htm’>Designed by Freepik</a>. <a href=”https://www.freepik.com/free-photos-vectors/watercolor”>Watercolor vector created by Freepik</a>. Image found at freepik.com. 

Andrea Brooks, who stars on When Calls the Heart as Faith, will be co-leading two upcoming movies. In an article from Heavy, these movies are, right now, titled ‘Sit, Stay, Love’ and ‘Fishing for Love’. With ‘Sit, Stay, Love’, Andrea will star alongside Hallmark alumni, Marcus Rosner. The film will be directed by Heather Hawthorn Doyle. According to the article, this movie is about the following:

“A woman’s tightly controlled life starts to loosen up when she adopts a dog and falls in love with him and the owner of the animal shelter she adopted him from”

For ‘Fishing for Love’, Andrea will star with Spencer Lord. The article from Heavy states “the movie was filmed in Brentwood Bay, British Columbia, Canada” and is about the following:

“When Kendall, a successful restaurant designer comes home to Mystic Bay for the annual Big Catch Festival, she finds herself in uncharted waters with town newcomer Zack. Is Kendall baited for trouble in her home town or will she catch true love?”

As of late July to early August 2021, “It’s not clear if either of her [Andrea’s] two new movies will be airing on The Hallmark Channel or somewhere else”, as stated in the article.

The link to the Heavy article I referenced:

Group of puppies image created by Rawpixel.com at freepik.com. <a href=”https://www.freepik.com/free-photos-vectors/background”>Background photo created by rawpixel.com – http://www.freepik.com</a>. Image found at freepik.com.

What are your thoughts on these pieces of movie news? Which project sounds the most interesting to you? Please let me know in the comment section!

Have fun at the movies!

Sally Silverscreen

Take 3: The Story of Us Review

Happy Valentine’s Day, everyone! It seems like it has become a tradition for me to review a Hallmark movie on February 14th. Last year, I reviewed an appropriately themed film called My Secret Valentine. This film was also the first movie that I ever reviewed on 18 Cinema Lane! This year, I have decided to review another Valentine’s Day themed Hallmark movie called The Story of Us. While I thought the film’s basic premise sounded like other Hallmark movies I’ve seen before, I was looking forward to seeing Sam Page and Maggie Lawson’s performance in the film. So, even though I watched this film with low expectations, I still hoped that this movie was good. Was this movie as good as I had hoped? Keep reading if you want to see if my review of The Story of Us has a happy ending!

The Story of Us poster
The Story of Us poster created by Crown Media Family Networks and Hallmark Channel. Image found at https://www.crownmediapress.com/Shows/PRShowDetail?SiteID=142&FeedBoxID=845&NodeID=302&ShowType=&ShowTitle=The+Story+of+Us.

Things I liked about the film:

  • The acting: The cast in The Story of Us was very strong! I think that everyone in this movie did a good job portraying their characters! Even though I wasn’t a fan of My Favorite Wedding and Christmas Encore, I did enjoy Maggie Lawson’s performance in both of those movies. In The Story of Us, Maggie’s portrayal of Jamie was very believable, providing the right amount of natural reactions and expressions! Sam Page is another actor whose performances I’ve enjoyed in several Hallmark movies. His portrayal of Sawyer was great, giving his performance enough charm and talent to bring a sense of likability to his character! All of the performances in the supporting cast were very good as well! I really enjoyed Marco Grazzini and Zibby Allen’s performances as Rick and Lucy! Both of these characters came across as sweet and genuine. I hope that Marco and Zibby can appear in more Hallmark movies in the future.

 

  • The on-screen chemistry: Like I mentioned earlier, Maggie and Sam both gave a great performance individually. They also gave a great performance as a pair! Their interactions were fun to watch and their delivery of witty dialogue added to their on-screen presence. I also thought that Marco and Zibby had good on-screen chemistry! Seeing Rick and Lucy’s relationship develop over the course of the film was something that I liked seeing. Their interactions were so sweet and adorable, helping their on-screen relationship appear as genuine as possible.

 

  • The humor: Hallmark Channel movies are known for incorporating humor into their films. The Story of Us was no different, with several funny moments that were found throughout the movie. One of the funniest scenes in this project was when Sam’s character, Sawyer, accidently took too much of an important ingredient while he was having a disagreement with Jamie at a cooking class. This error that Sawyer made was hilarious because of how relatable the moment was. Having humorous moments that make audiences laugh with the characters and not at them is what makes The Story of Us so memorable.

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Valentine’s Day themed items created by Freepik at freepik.com. <a href=”https://www.freepik.com/free-photos-vectors/background”>Background photo created by freepik – http://www.freepik.com</a>. Image found at freepik.com.

What I didn’t like about the film:

  • Too many plots: In The Story of Us, there were six plots simultaneously going on throughout this movie. Because of this, some plots were given more focus than others. An example of this is how the Fire and Ice Festival was not talked about as much as Jamie’s efforts to save her bookstore. Personally, I think that The Story of Us should have had, at least, one main plot and two subplots. This way, all of the plots could have balanced out each other and had an equal amount of focus.

 

  • Limited amount of focus on the Fire and Ice Festival: Within The Story of Us, there was a Valentine’s Day themed festival called the Fire and Ice Festival. When this event was shown on-screen, I thought it looked like so much fun! Unfortunately, this festival was presented in the film for only a few minutes. It also wasn’t a part of the film’s main plot, causing the festival to feel like an after-thought. If Jamie used the Fire and Ice Festival to save her bookstore, this would have been a good way to incorporate both ideas into the film’s overall narrative.

 

  • The protagonist’s-ex-unexpectedly-comes-back-into-the-protagonist’s-life cliché: A cliché that I have found in several Hallmark movies is the protagonist’s-ex-unexpectedly-comes-back-into-the-protagonist’s-life cliché. This cliché was present in The Story of Us, when Jamie’s ex, a dentist who moved away to Texas, came back into Jamie’s life after hearing about her efforts to save her bookstore. To me, this part of the story felt unnecessary, like it was added to the overall narrative just for the sake of it. Within the movie as a whole, this part of the story didn’t seem to go anywhere. If this cliché were cut from the film, it wouldn’t have made an impact in the overall project.

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Pink themed image created by Freepik at freepik.com. <a href=”https://www.freepik.com/free-photos-vectors/mockup”>Mockup psd created by freepik – http://www.freepik.com</a>. Image found at freepik.com.

My overall impression:

I really liked The Story of Us! While this movie had its flaws, there were things about this movie that I enjoyed. To me, this movie was much better than My Favorite Wedding and Christmas Encore. The narrative of The Story of Us was not only a better written story, but the movie’s overall tone fit the style of a typical Hallmark Channel movie. So far, the “Countdown to Valentine’s Day” lineup has been good. The only other Valentine’s Day themed movie I’ve seen (and reviewed) is Valentine in the Vineyard. I’m really looking forward to Love, Romance & Chocolate because the story sounds very creative and takes place in Belgium (which I believe is the first time Hallmark has ever filmed there)! Hopefully, that movie can be just as good as The Story of Us.

 

Overall score: 7.8 out of 10

 

What are your thoughts about this year’s “Countdown to Valentine’s Day” line-up? Which Valentine’s Day themed movie is your favorite? Share your thoughts in the comment section!

 

Have fun at the movies!

Sally Silverscreen

Take 3: The Christmas Card Review

For Moon in Gemini’s The Greatest Film I’ve Never Seen Blogathon, I put a lot of thought into what film I would review. When I thought about which movies I had never seen up until this point, one of the first films that came to mind was the Hallmark movie, The Christmas Card. Since the movie’s premiere in 2006, it seems like a significant amount of Hallmark fans love this movie. The Christmas Card is so beloved that it almost always is included into one of Hallmark’s Christmas movie line-ups. This film also won Hallmark Channel’s first Christmas movie March Madness contest last year! Since 2006, fans of The Christmas Card have asked Hallmark on numerous occasions to give this film a sequel, wishing and hoping that their dream of revisiting this story would come true. Because of my participation in this blogathon, I was finally given the chance to not only watch this movie, but to see if it was truly as beloved as people had made it out to be. So, take a seat on this sleigh ride as we travel through this review of The Christmas Card!

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Thank you, television of mine, for reminding me that I watched this film. Screenshot taken by me, Sally Silverscreen.
Things I liked about the film:

The acting: For the most part, the acting in The Christmas Card was fine. However, the three stand-out performers in this film were Edward Asner, Lois Nettleton, and Peter Jason! Their performances were so lively and animated when it needed to be, but also contained the emotions required for the film’s dramatic moments. It was always a delight when these three actors came on-screen, with the interactions involving their characters being enjoyable to watch. Because of their ability to provide the right amount of versatility to their roles, Edward, Lois, and Peter brought a good amount of believability to their performances, even more than the other actors in this cast.

 

The scenery: Any time the characters went into the forest, the setting surrounding them was beautiful to look at. The story’s natural landscape were showcased very well in the film and really captured the spirit of the season. Whenever the Spelman’s “special place” was featured in the movie, it was absolutely breath-taking. The natural beauty of the film’s snowy environment was definitely a highlight to this film!

 

The reverence and respect toward the military: Hallmark usually does a good job whenever the military or military families are incorporated into their stories. The Christmas Card is no exception. When the subject of fallen military members was brought up in the film, the creative team associated with this movie not only made sure the right emotions were featured in those moments, but that those moments were presented in a respectful and appropriate manner. During the Christmas Eve Service, the pastor said a prayer where he hoped the members of the military would stay safe during the Christmas season. I thought this prayer was well-written and handled by the film’s creative team with great care.

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Christmas card image created by Freepik at freepik.com. <a href=’https://www.freepik.com/free-vector/christmas-card-with-watercolor-mistletoe-decoration_965555.htm’>Designed by Freepik</a>. <a href=”https://www.freepik.com/free-photos-vectors/watercolor”>Watercolor vector created by Freepik</a>. Image found at freepik.com. 

What I didn’t like about the film:

A weak and drawn-out plot: The main plot of The Christmas Card is Faith (one of the main characters of the film) writing and sending a card to Sgt. Cody Cullen (the film’s protagonist), which causes him to travel to her hometown in order to thank her for the card. Because Cody doesn’t thank Faith for the card until the last ten minutes of the movie, it made the plot feel weak and drawn-out. Before I watched The Christmas Card, I was hoping there would be two interesting subplots to complement the main plot. Sadly, the only plot in this film was the main plot, with the story being filled with “filler” material just to keep the movie going. The scenes that show Cody working at the Spelman family lumberyard, one of the film’s “filler” material, were the most boring scenes in this movie.

 

The character of Faith’s boyfriend: The incorporation of Paul, Faith’s boyfriend, into this story was meant to add conflict for the protagonist. However, I found this conflict to be just as weak as the main plot. It felt like Paul and the conflict he brought were included in this story just for the sake of adding something to the plot. If Paul had been written out of this story, it wouldn’t have made much of a difference.

 

Being forced to suspend more of my disbelief than I wanted to: More often than not, Hallmark asks their audience to suspend their disbelief when it comes to their movies (which, as a Hallmark fan, I am more than willing to do). However, there were moments in The Christmas Card where I felt Hallmark was asking me, as an audience member, to suspend more of my disbelief than I had wanted to. For example, I thought Faith’s card, while written with the best of intentions, was very unrealistic. I’ve participated in several activities that required me to write a letter or card to a military service-member. During my participation in these activities, I was always told that the only information I could share about myself was my first name. The idea of Faith not only sharing her full name, but also sharing other personal aspects of her life, such as where she lived and photos of what her family’s house looked like, seemed so ridiculous to me, that, to a certain extent, I was taken out of the film.

Greatest Film I've Never Seen blogathon banner
The Greatest Film I’ve Never Seen Blogathon banner created by Debbie from Moon in Gemini. Image found at https://debravega.wordpress.com/2018/09/09/announcing-the-greatest-film-ive-never-seen-blogathon/.

My overall impression:

At best, I thought The Christmas Card was ok. While there were a few good things about the film, it wasn’t enough to sweep me off my feet, as it did for some Hallmark fans. When I reflect on this movie, I can think of Hallmark movies with similar themes that are better than The Christmas Card, with Operation Christmas and Home for Christmas Day being two good examples. While I was watching The Christmas Card, I couldn’t help but ask myself, “this won Hallmark Channel’s very first Christmas movie March Madness”? Over the twelve years that this movie has existed, I feel that it has been over-hyped. I don’t think this movie is bad, but I do think it could have been stronger. I’m glad that Moon in Gemini created The Greatest Film I’ve Never Seen Blogathon because I now have an honest opinion about one of Hallmark’s most beloved films.

 

Overall score: 6.2 out of 10

 

Do you agree or disagree with my thoughts on The Christmas Card? What Hallmark Christmas movie do you cherish the most? Please let me know in the comment section!

 

Have fun at the movies!

Sally Silverscreen