November 8, 2011

Hallmark ‘Countdown to Christmas’ begins

Posted in Between Us column, Entertainment, Movies, Television at 1:34 am by dinaheng

Christmas may come but once a year, but the Hallmark Channel produces a holiday extravaganza of original movies and holiday-themed programming designed to celebrate the spirit of love and joy, stretching from November to January.

This year’s “Countdown to Christmas” includes movies, animated specials, the Hollywood Christmas Parade and the 123rd Tournament of Roses Parade. Kicking off next weekend’s movie offerings is “Lucky Christmas,” airing Saturday, Nov. 12 at 8 p.m. Eastern.

When a single mom who’s struggling to make ends meet wins the lottery, she can’t believe her luck. Unfortunately, while Holly Ceroni (played by Elizabeth Berkley) has the winning number, she loses the ticket when her car is stolen, with the ticket inside. Mike Ronowski, the accidental beneficiary of the theft, is convinced by a greedy friend to romance Holly for a cut of the money to help save his family business.

Mike, of course, falls for Holly, and has to figure out how to make things right, just in time for Christmas.

“I read the script and thought it was really charming,” says Gray-Stanford, familiar to many as Lt. Randall Disher in the hit series “Monk.” “It’s a warm holiday piece about two wounded people who have a chance to open up their hearts, and then good things happen.”

He explains that his character Mike has returned home to help with the family business because of his father’s health issues, giving up his own dream of being an environmentally-conscious architect.

“Mike was wary of relationships, and was just focusing on the family business when he met Holly and her son,” Gray-Stanford says. “Meeting them moves him forward with his dream. He realizes how lovely Holly is, and how wonderful her son is. Once the facades break down, they’re both really similar people.”

Gray-Stanford, also known for his work in the Academy Award-winning film “A Beautiful Mind” and Clint Eastwood’s “Flag of Our Fathers,” says he enjoyed making a holiday film that talks about what’s important in life.

“I think we get sidetracked with work and other things,” he says. “People are scared of going after what they want. Sometimes, it’s easier to stick with the status quo than tackle the challenge. But life passes you by pretty quick, so you have to go after things.

“I hope people see that you can go for your dream. If you open your heart, people will come into your life and really support you. Even with adversity, just have faith and stick with it.”

Gray-Stanford, engaged to actress/writer Jes Macallen, is looking forward to getting married next year.  As for his character on “Lucky Christmas,” he’s pretty sure that Mike and Holly spend the rest of their lives together, too.

For more information on this and other holiday fare on the Hallmark Channel, check out


1 Comment »

  1. Just wanted to say GREAT JOB! on your artical titled “Hanging Tough” in the most recent issue of Realtor Magazine. I have been selling real estate since 1995 and felt every word you wrote. Great Job showing the Agents side of the picture! Thank you, DeMarcus

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