It’s not even Halloween yet, but as far as Lifetime is concerned, it’s already the Christmas season — and the network proves it by kicking it off with a series of holiday films this weekend. On Sunday, viewers can check out Forever Christmas, the love story of a man who doesn’t stop celebrating December 25th and a woman who needs to open her heart to the festive holiday.
Forever Christmas Premieres Sunday
Forever Christmas tells the story of a workaholic reality TV producer, Sophia Worthy (Chelsea Hobbs), who wants to recruit Will Saunders (Christopher Russell) to play the lead in a reality series based on his passion for Christmas. She’s driven to succeed and he wants to be taken seriously. Will the two find common ground? Or love?
Entertainment Hub spoke to screenplay writer Gary Goldstein, who adapted a novel by Ruth Clampett, to get the inside scoop on this holiday love story.
Entertainment Hub: How did Chelsea and Christopher come to be cast?
Gary Goldstein: I don’t really have input in that, but lead casting is generally about finding really talented, attractive actors with name recognition who can generate the kind of comic and romantic energy needed for these films. For those shot in Canada, like Forever Christmas, Canadian-born actors can also be a consideration.
Lifetime holiday movies usually have happy endings, which people enjoy especially at this time of year.
This movie was originally made for the streaming service Passionflix. Their content definitely leans into the more ‘passionate’ side of things. Like the book it’s based on, the story allowed for characters to be not so perfect, a little more flawed and real. We go a bit deeper into the personalities of the characters here. Still, it’s a Christmas movie–so plenty of joy and happiness.
Sophia works in reality TV. Did you research that world for your script?
This is based on a novel called Mr. 365. A friend of mine is friends with the author, Ruth Clampett. We all had lunch and Ruth gave me a few of her books including this one. It’s about a guy who celebrates Christmas 365 days a year and there’s the reality TV element. It’s a unique story and I finally found a production company to make it. I really took my cues from the book about reality TV. Ruth had done a lot of research. It’s a TV world created for a movie so there are creative licenses [taken]. I knew it was important not to make it too much about reality TV, but more about the relationship between Sophia and Will.
What stops Sophia from tailoring the show more to Will’s liking?
She has a boss, Paul (Matthew Kevin Anderson), who gets in the middle of all of this, someone who pulls all the strings. She’s not the bad guy but things get out of hand. The story’s set up where she is on the ropes in her job. She wants to succeed. We see that Sophia’s an honest person, but there’s a limit to her honesty.
Will has a neighbor, a widower, Fred, played by Ken Camroux-Taylor. He’s not into Christmas.
Yes. It adds to conflict, but we’ll see that Will’s a good guy [based on their interactions].
We learn why each of them feels about Christmas the way they do.
Yes. There’s usually a reason one character has a ‘bah humbug’ approach to the holidays. The holidays can be stressful. Some people can’t wait for them to be over. Others can’t wait for it, hoping it’ll be even better than the last one.
There are a lot of holiday films. What makes Forever Christmas unique?
I think the subject is unique, how reality TV is presented. I like the slight element of darkness beneath these characters, which Ruth created in the book. It’s about people who are pushing their way through, who are holding on. Without trying, they end up finding somebody. Chris brings a tremendous amount of warmth, strength, and soulfulness to the part. Chelsea is a very good actress and she brings a lot to her part. The story’s buoyant and fun. They’re good people who try to do the right thing despite their own problems.
Forever Christmas premieres on Sunday, October 25 at 8 p.m. ET on Lifetime.