Hallmark Holiday Movies Look To Hanukkah, Other Traditions – Forbes
The Hallmark Channel is showing its first Hanukkah-themed movies in seven years as part of its “Countdown to Christmas” holiday movie block.
More stories about the Jewish Festival of Lights are the works for next year, and The Crown Media Holdings-owned network is open to telling stories about other faiths, according to the company.
The company has increased the diversity at both Hallmark and its sister network Hallmark Movies and Mysteries in recent years.
“We take pitches for all kinds of movies,” said Michelle Vicary, Executive Vice President, Programming & Publicity, Crown Media Family Networks, in a statement. “We talk about being purposeful each year and making sure that of the hundreds — if not thousands — of pitches we get for the holiday season all tell the right story. (That’s) Because that’s the first decision point for our development team. Celebrating holiday seasons in lots of different ways is important to every family across the United States, and we do our best to bring to light the different traditions and different things that are happening to people in their lives.”
Hallmark declined to be more specific.
The Crown Media-owned channel is planning on showing Holiday Date on December 14 and Double Holiday on December 22. Both follow the familiar Hallmark formula of how a seemingly mismatched couple finds true love that has made the features as a staple of the holiday season since 2009.
Holiday Date tells the story of a fashion designer named “Brooke,” who, after being dumped, decides to hire an actor named “Joel” to pretend to be her boyfriend while she visits her parents for Christmas. Joel, however, is Jewish, which makes it difficult for them to keep up the charade. Brooke’s ex-boyfriend confronts her and Joel when he hears a rumor about their engagement. Brooke and Joel must then decide whether to tell the truth about their relationship and their feelings for one another.
Double Holiday tells the tale of a Jewish woman “Rebecca” and her “insufferable officemate” and rival “Chris.” Their boss asks the rivals to plan the company’s Christmas party along with her “insufferable officemate” Chris. After they are forced to work together, Rebecca and Chris begin to see one another in a new light.
Their budding relationship, however, almost is derailed by the competition for the promotion. A rival for Rebecca’s affections also emerges. In true Hallmark fashion, Chris makes a grand gesture at the company Christmas party to win Rebecca’s heart.
Telling Hanukkah stories are “something that all of us in the Hallmark world have talked about for years,” Double Holiday writer Nina Weinman told JewishJournal.com “This year, (we) wanted to branch out and be part of the proper representation of what the world looks like, not just a Christmas story in a small town where two people fall in love. There is plenty of that. But it’s about diversity and thinking outside the box.”
Hallmark is planning to show 24 Countdown to Christmas movies and another 16 films on its Hallmark Movies & Mysteries network during the holiday season. The cable network has gotten the production of uplifting movies down to a science.
Many Hallmark movies are shot in Vancouver, Canada, with modest production budgets of around $3 million. They feature a roster of actors who have appeared in them for years such as Danica McKellar, Candace Cameron Bure, and Lacy Chabert. Lori Loughlin was a Hallmark mainstay for years until she was charged in the Varsity Blues college cheating scandal.
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