Category Archives: Hallmark Movie

Sit-Com Stars in Hallmark Movie

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On another post, we had just been talking about 1989, when a few

of our favorite funny situation comedies originated. I could not

believe my ‘luck’ when I turned on the Hallmark Channel to find a

movie with a catchy title, “The Christmas Con.” There is an ensemble

cast of six famous actors from more than six situation comedies.

They show their talent and  versatility in this meaningful Hallmark

movie.

 

I will sketch the plot in, along with giving you the ‘who’s who’ of t.v.

series actors. If you are a fan of television trivia games, you may be

able to ‘keep up with me,’ in this essay about performers who have

been around television for years: one since 1982. Although the title

isn’t very pretty nor the story as simple as some Hallmark Christmas

movies are, it tells a meaningful story of hope and forgiveness.

 

There is a collection of outstanding, amusing actors who played

character parts in this story of ‘redemption.’ The movie has two

characters, an ex-convict who needs to change his way of dealing

with people, passing through his life ‘taking’ and never ‘giving.’ The

second character must face his addiction, he has to fall flat on his

face, embarrass himself, go to jail and then, find his way home.

 

The actor who plays the character of an alcoholic man, came from a

caring family, dramatic show, “Party of Five.”  My two daughters loved

the whole cast of this show. They would know this man who later left

this show to play an irascible red-headed doctor.  Although, you may

or may not,  have known the popular teenaged-cast of “Party of Five,”

he was, “Will Mc Corkle.” Then you may have seen him as the red haired

“pain in the butt” doctor from the serious show, “E.R.”  This character

was the head of the “E.R.” as, Dr. Archie Morris. “Archie” was disliked by

most everyone, (nurses and the E.R. hospital staff) which showed quite

a range of talent in this role played by Scott Grimes. It was nice to have

known him as a likable man in the first show, then respect his portrayal

of a ‘by the books’ doctor who sometimes went ‘head to head’ with John

Stamos, who played another type of character on “E.R.” Scott Grimes

went from “E.R.” to act in a few television movies, along with another

series, “Band of Brothers.”

Interestingly enough, Scott Richard Grimes made a ‘soft rock and roll’

album, (also described as  ‘popular rock’) called, “Sunset Boulevard.” He

wrote all of the songs and sang them, too. I have not checked this out

but it was favorably reviewed, in its genre.

 

Then there was the character of the  endearing ex-convict with a ‘heart

of gold,’ who plays Santa Claus, making a promise he nearly is unable to

keep for the son of the red-headed man. Scott Grime’s plays a father/

ex-husband who is unfortunately battling alcoholism. His son asks Santa

Claus to bring his mother and father back together again for Christmas.

 

Santa promises to bring this estranged father back ‘into the fold,’ becoming

part of the trio the boy considers his ‘family.’ The ex-con is played by Barry

Watson, who both my daughters had major ‘crushes’ on, while he was the

oldest son in a family of seven members being raised by a minister, known

as, “Seventh Heaven.” Barry Watson left “Seventh Heaven,” to battle in his

own personal ‘real life drama,’ Hodgkins Disease. My family, son included,

had Barry in our prayers for a few years. His attractive long-haired look in

the family show changed to a gaunt, bald look when he was interviewed

during this period of time. The producers allowed him to ‘spread his wings,’

by being behind the camera, in his writing plots and helping set up scenes.

 

There is a memorable scene, in The Christmas Con,” which paints a fairly

accurate picture of an A.A. meeting, where Scott Grimes’ meets Santa Claus,

out of costume. I feel capable of analyzing this subject, due to my own personal

experience of being married to an alcoholic, having attended one year of A.A.,

two years of Alanon, and taking my three children to Children of Alcoholics

meetings.

 

The man who is Santa/Barry’s best friend is played by, Jaleel White, who

portrayed the dorky, inept character named, “Steve Urkel,” in “Family

Matters.” His character has mended his ways of conniving and trying to

trick others, while also being a good and supportive friend to Barry’s

character. He gets to also romance Barry’s ‘sister,’ in the movie, using his

charming demeanor. He looks ‘nothing’ like Steve Urkel, has grown into

a handsome man.

 

John Ratzenberger’s in the cast of this Hallmark movie, playing a Grandpa,

and you know where he came from?  “Cheers,” where he was “Cliff Clavin,”

the mailman, the one who sometimes kept the bar stool warm for hours.

He was the stocky man’s (“Norm’s”) best friend, “where everyone knew

their names.” This series lasted from 1982 -1993. No wonder we felt these

actors were part of our family! John R. went on to make a few different

television movies, played guest character roles on shows and my ‘grandies’

love him in such familiar children’s animated films as the “Toy Story” series,

“Monsters, Inc.” and “Cars,” where he plays (‘voices’) a rusted-out truck.

 

Another familiar character, where you may wonder, “Where have I seen

this attractive black woman before?” She has a unique character part,

as a female preacher in a church.  By the end of the story, you realize this

does not exist. It is a boarded up church, having been condemned. The

recognizable woman, who you don’t immediately ‘place’ or figure out

where she came from, is  talk show hostess, Wendy Williams. She ends

up being a fantastic singer, when she is caroling with church folks in a

neighborhood. I felt she was the Guardian Angel for Barry’s ex-convict

character.

 

The last famous displaced series player, is the actress, Melissa Joan Hart.

You got to know her as a teenaged witch in “Sabrina the Teen Age Witch,”

if you had children in the 90’s. (This ran seven years, 1996-2003.) Along

with Melissa’s more current role on  the show, “Melissa and Joey.” In the

Family Channel show, she is a town councilwoman and Joey (Lawrence)

is playing her ‘stay at home’ Nanny/Housekeeper. Can you believe Joey

was on The Johnny Carson Show, singing at age 5 years old? He is NOT

in this Hallmark movie, but was in one with Melissa Joan Hart, a few

Christmases ago.

(Yes, the plot for “Melissa and Joey,” resembles the one of “Who’s the

Boss?”)

 

Melissa’s character believes in her brother, the man who has just been

released from prison. You don’t feel he was a dangerous criminal and

are sympathetic to his character. (He had been a ‘grifter’ or ‘con artist,’

hence the name of the movie…)

Melissa and Barry make a believably good sister and brother team.

Melissa Joan Hart debuted as the director of this movie, which is a

new position for her to be in.

 

When Jameel’s character meets Melissa, he shows his debonair side,

which eventually they become close and they make a ‘cute couple.’

Their characters go about playing the ‘normal’ fantasy of carrying out

Christmas routines, as they decorate Melissa’s house, listen to Santa/

Barry’s quandary. Both Jaleel’s buddy character and Melissa’s sister

character cheer for the miracle of fixing the nearly irreparable marriage

and family together again.

 

Yes, I told you part of the ending.

The journey makes it worth watching.

The cast of recognizable people who have become part of our ongoing

landscape of television. Those people who come into our living room,

visit and stay awhile. They become more familiar than big screen

actors.

There are a few ‘surprises’ and twisting turns leading you to the

expected and satisfying ending. I didn’t tell you anything you didn’t

know since almost all of these movies come out ‘safe and sound.’

 

Hopefully, instead you will want to watch this more. Since it is the

way they handle the simplistic story, how they fulfill their duties as

characters which will help you admire Scott Grimes, Jaleel White,

Barry Watson, Melissa Joan Hart, John Ratzenberger and Wendy

Williams. In my mind, this is an ‘All Star Cast’ of television experts.

 

This is a treat to see, savor and remember. It shows me Christmas is

a time for all possibilities imaginable to come true.

 

October’s Bewitching Month

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In a book called, “Brownie Year Book,” written and illustrated by Palmer Cox, he

gives us twelve poems for a year.  This was found in an old anthology book, which

was published in the year of my birth, 1955. I have not featured the other months,

but may in the coming year, 2015.  It includes amusing, detailed pen and ink drawings

of these little ‘Brownies.’  They are not elf-like nor imps.  They are not younger

versions of Girl Scouts either. They look like little men. You may find these curious

characters on the Internet. Go ahead, check what the ‘Brownies’ look like. Otherwise,

I like the power and intricacy of words and will try to draw a picture in your mind of

them.  Their eyes are sometimes bugging out of their sockets.  In the wacky month

of June, the Brownies are banding together to go on a gentle ride in a boat along a

lazy stream. Alas, they reach a sudden increase of speed. Soon, they are falling out of

their boat going down a waterfall!  Chaos and amusement can be found in each month’s

transitions. The ‘Brownies’ are an unexpected pleasure like some kind of dwarves in

their own little adventures. I think they could compare to the movie, “The Box Trolls,”

in their antics. There can be some ‘episodes’ of serious intent as this October shows:

 

“October

When woods are tinged

with all the glow

October on the woods

can throw,

And game is plenty

on the tree

And every kind

of weapon free:

The Brownies

imitate the way

Mankind does creep

upon the prey.”

(Palmer Cox)

 

 

 

OCTOBER CALENDAR

 

Birthstone: Opal

Flower: Calendula

 

You should be filling out your absentee ballots applications, if you won’t be able to

make it to the polls. One month until elections are here in the U.S. in November.

It will land on Tuesday, November 4, 2014. My Mom and my youngest daughter

sometimes vote using absentee ballots. I sent out a text to one, a hand-written

letter to the other.  Not sure if this will be true this year or if they will make it to

the Polls!

 

Late October, exciting times are coming: The 110th World Series of Major League

Baseball Championship games keep on going with round #7 playing on October 29th.

 

October 1st-

Remembering 10/1/64 when over 3000 University of California Berkeley, gathered

in protesting Civil Rights activist, Jack Weinberg being arrested, surrounding the

police car. Mario Salvo and other activists had formed the organization of FSM,

(Freedom of Speech Movement.) It was not necessarily just for African Americans,

as there were many Spanish speaking members, along with whites, including Jewish

people. This incident lasted over 32 hours and ended peacefully.

 

1- Quarter Moon.

 

3-4- Yom Kippur.

From sundown on October 3rd until sunset on October 4th.

 

7- Children’s Health Day

Support mothers and fathers who protect their children by keeping their vaccinations

and shot records current. I support our local health clinic in Delaware, Ohio by donating

to their funding.

 

8- Hunters’ Full Moon

In October, Native Americans also call this Dying Moon and Travel Moon.

 

9- Leif Erickson Day.

Leif Erickson was believed to be the first (recorded) Nordic explorer of North America.

His Viking ship and members of his crew are shown appreciation on this day. If you

wish to see a humorous interpretation that explains this to children, see Leif Erickson

on Google, then add “SpongeBob SquarePants.”

 

13- Columbus Day.

Celebrating the ‘discovery’ of America, by Christopher Columbus.

Fly flags for honoring Veterans as this is a government holiday in the U.S.

 

15- Last Quarter Moon.

 

17- Alaska Day (observed).

The U.S. officially got the territory of Alaska from Russia transferred on the

date: October 18, 1867.

 

18- Two very different kinds of television programming going on:

1.  Stephen King’s movie, “Big Driver,” will be shown on Lifetime on this evening.

2.  “My Boyfriend’s Dogs,” will be shown on Hallmark Channel tonight. The

actress, Ericka Christensen is known for her role on the show, “Parenthood.”

 

 

 

23- New Moon (rising)

 

24- United Nations Day.

If you have never looked at all the lovely designs for different stationery, you

may wish to check out the UNICEF website. My parents ordered their Christmas

cards every year around this time. My father’s obituary had two donation places

designated in ‘lieu of flowers,’ as UNICEF and the Hospice organization in Cleveland,

Ohio. Mark Chagall’s lovely designs and the iconic Peace dove with the twig of an

olive branch were some of my favorite cards ever.

 

30- Hallmark Channel presents the American Humane Society Dog Show and

will include: 8 Hero Dogs competing for a national title. Watch these unsung

canine heroes on Hallmark Channel at 8:00 p.m. (EST).

 

31- Happy Halloween Day!

The evening before All Saints Day was once designated as “hallowed evening.”

All kinds of spirits will be roaming neighborhoods, mainly children dressed

up in costumes. Beware! If you don’t offer treats, you may have some ‘devilish’

tricks or pranks played on you or your house. . .

 

Also, a very special celebration will be going on in Nevada!

Happy 150th Anniversary to Nevada’s Statehood! There will be no schools

and all government offices closed on this Friday. Then on Saturday,

November 1st, there will be major hoopla going on, starting with a huge

parade! Congratulations for all those living in Nevada and Enjoy!

 

 

In Autumn, I enjoy going for a drive in the country, stopping and having a

hike in the woods. This is one simple pleasure that almost anyone, except

an invalid or someone bedridden can partake in. I hope you are healthy,

will enjoy the way your senses can all come into play, while enjoying the

great outdoors.

 

“The Open Road

Afoot and light-hearted,  I take to the open road.

Healthy, free, the world before me,

The long brown path before me, leading

wherever I choose.

 

Henceforth I ask not good-fortune, I myself

am good-fortuned.

Henceforth I whimper no more, postpone

no more, need nothing.

Done with indoor complaints, libraries,

querulous criticisms,

Strong and content, I travel the open road.”

(Walt Whitman)

 

 

 

Listening to Carols

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We were at my son’s house with (I am not kidding!) 11 kids

under 12 running around, listening to Christmas Carols. We

adults each mentioned our favorites. They are revealing in their

variety and how they fit almost perfectly each person.

I would like to say the one that will inspire me to make a new

resolution: “The Little Drummer Boy” (I especially  like Nat

King Cole singing it.)

Why this song? Because we all have gifts or talents to give.

We all have things that are inside of us that sometimes we

do share, sometimes we hide and sometimes we still need to

discover them.

I think the point of the song is Christian but the way I like it

best to be read in this post is: Whoever or whatever you love,

believe in or seek for serenity let them know by your sharing

your special gifts.

I would like to make this a universal resolution. It might bring

peace, it may bring joy, it would bring Hope surely, it would!

I will meditate or contemplate every day in 2013 how I can be

more giving, more thoughtful, more outside of myself and it

will be amazing how this will take my worries and anxieties

away.

Lastly, I think we all believe that we are good inside, but we

don’t always believe what we can do will make a difference.

My mother was wonderful as a teacher, later a substitute and

a tutor. She was a good neighbor and she is still one of the

sweetest women I have met. But one thing she never envisioned

herself doing was taking her 2 dogs to a nursing home.

She walked into one the year my Dad passed away, 2001, and went

to the front desk, she asked to talk to a social worker. She said, “I

brought my 2 dogs, Cassie and Nicki, with their shots records and

my neighbor’s letter of recommendation. Can I go to visit someone

who misses their dogs? ”

This seems like a very simple idea, but in its most humble way it

was her final gift to her little town she lived in. She doesn’t have

Cassie and Nicki is her companion and her solace in her senior

living apartment. You can come up with a simple way of giving

or paying it forward. I will work on mine this coming year, much

better and more often than before.It would make me so happy if

you would want to share your idea, maybe it will become a way

to inspire others to try something out of their comfort zone…

This reminds me of  a wonderful movie that my mother and I watched

this Christmas holiday. The script was written by a fellow graduate of

my high school in Bay Village, Ohio. His name is Michael Heaton,

he writes a column for the Cleveland Plain Dealer, “Minister of

Culture.” It was first shown on December 2, 2012.

This heartwarming story, titled “The Christmas Heart,” was about

a life that is redeemed by giving. This is the ultimate gift to share.

It is a meaningful reminder of how we all need to be organ donors,

live the best life we can, and care for our neighbors. The writer, Michael

Heaton, had an interesting side note in an article telling about how the

movie was made. The airplane carrying the heart was going to have to

go through a big snow storm. This is an “inside story” and they took

the chance it would snow out where they filmed. No, they had to use

potato flakes! The characters in the Hallmark movie, include famous

actresses Teri Polo and Tess Harper. A teenager’s life is in danger if he

doesn’t receive a heart. Meanwhile a man whose life has gone astray and

made some mistakes, dies. His mother has to decide to give his heart to the

young man who needs it. It has a very exciting paced ending so if you get a

chance to, please watch this! The movie was produced with Michael’s

sister, Patricia Heaton’s help. A family movie with Bay Village roots.

May this coming year be the one you reach farther and touch more.

Happy 2013!!