sean_faris_1296940989Lisa Kleypas has finally made the announcement, which means I am free to reveal the news I’ve been sitting on for months.  Christmas Eve at Friday Harbor will be an ABC and a Hallmark channel movie this year called Christmas with Holly.  Better still, unlike some other past “movie deals,” we know it’s the real thing because the movie is already shooting up in Canada for airing this holiday season.

Here’s the Hallmark press release:

Filming begins this week in and around Halifax, Nova Scotia on the newest Hallmark Hall of Fame production, Christmas with Holly.  It will premiere on ABC in December, 2012, with encore presentations on the Hallmark Channel.

“I’ve been holding on to my old dreams.  But I realize I need to make room for new ones.”  So says Maggie Conway, played by Eloise Mumford (The River, Lone Star), in the film.  She’s decided to move on in life after being left at the altar months earlier.

Maggie relocates from Seattle to a smaller, calmer place – specifically, Friday Harbor, Washington State.  It’s the kind of town where everybody knows everybody – but not in a nosy way.  Everybody cares for everybody, too.  She opens a toy story that’s dedicated to kids, encouraging them to explore their imaginations.  As Maggie says, “Kids need to play make believe.  Imagination helps to make their dreams come true.”

The “Holly” in Christmas with Holly is six years old.  Her single mom died a few months earlier.  In accordance with her wishes, her 25-year-old brother Mark, played by Sean Faris (Hallmark Hall of Fame’s The Lost Valentine, Leverage) now has full responsibility for raising Holly.  Mark – who runs the town’s coffee shop — has help from his two older brothers.

All three uncles have their hearts in the right place.  But they’re charmingly inept in their new roles – and they’re not helped by the fact that Holly hasn’t uttered a word since her mom died.  That’s where Maggie comes in.  Despite the approach of the busy Christmas retail season, she gives extra attention to Holly every time the young girl comes into Maggie’s welcoming shop.

eloise-mumfordMaggie assumes Mark is “spoken for” during the whole getting-to-know-you dance, because Mark is in a relationship with Shelby, played by Alex Paxton-Beesley.  But that relationship is floundering, and by Christmas Eve Mark and Maggie discover they’ve fallen in love.  All three of them – Mark, Maggie, Holly – are starting to think of a life together as a loving family.

The teleplay for Christmas with Holly is by P’Nenah Goldstein (Hallmark Hall of Fame’s Loving Leah and November Christmas); it is based on the book Christmas Eve at Friday Harbor by Lisa Kleypas.  It is directed by Emmy Award winner Alan Arkush (The Temptations, Caddyshack II).  Brent Shields (Firelight, A Smile as Big as the Moon) is Executive Producer; Andrew Gottlieb (Beyond the Blackboard, The Lost Valentine) is producer.

Well, what do you think of the leads?  I can’t say I am familiar with either actor, but they both certainly look the part to me.

So, what do you think?  Are you as excited as I am?

– Sandy AAR

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