Hilarie Burton and Jeffrey Dean Morgan pitch a quarantine Christmas movie
With films like Christmas on the Bayou, Last Chance for Christmas, A Christmas Wish, and the epic One Tree Hill reunion in The Christmas Contract, Hilarie Burton has become the go-to actress for Lifetime Christmas movies. But with production on these feel good chestnuts now on hold due to COVID-19, are we facing the unthinkable — a 2020 holiday season without Christmas films?!?
We posed that question to the Christmas queen herself when Burton and husband Jeffrey Dean Morgan called into EW Live (SiriusXM, channel 109) to chat about their new AMC talk show Friday Night In With the Morgans. “We were supposed to be filming mine in May,” Burton revealed of her next Lifetime offering. “And so we’d been doing our development and writing all winter, and it’s going to be a change.”
But change can be a good thing. “I’ve been pushing for Lifetime to do some more unscripted kind of stuff,” says Burton. “We had done an unscripted special when we did our big One Tree Hill reunion Christmas movie and that did well! And people like connecting with people who make these Christmas movies. So perhaps we’ll switch over to some unscripted stuff this year, and then next year we will start filming as soon as we get the green light and it will be an avalanche of Christmas.”
However, Morgan is not ready to concede defeat in 2020. “Hopefully you have time between now and December to get one done,” he chimed in. “But we just don’t know. I still have hope that you’ll save Christmas somehow.”
“It will be live,” laughed Burton. “It will be theater!”
But as the couple began laughing, an actual plausible idea began to form during the following back and forth:
BURTON: “We’re working on it. We’re doing what we can. I’ve got a really good producing partner, Daniel Lewis, down in Louisiana.”
MORGAN: “Maybe you do a Christmas movie doing quarantining and social distancing.”
BURTON: “So it’s just a Zoom Christmas?”
MORGAN: “How do people fall in love and sell Christmas trees…when you can’t see people?”
BURTON: “Or you fall in love in quarantine, and Christmas is the first time you see the person! That’s it!!!”
MORGAN: “We cracked it. We’ll shoot it here on the farm!”
BURTON: “Done! Christmas 2020, brought to you by the Morgans!”
Don’t put it past them, folks. The multi-tasking couple has already — when not making and delivering masks to essential workers in their Hudson Valley community — started their own AMC quarantine talk show from scratch on the farm, so a Lifetime Christmas movie could be next. And their idea of a couple meeting in-person for the first time after communicating remotely in a different medium certainly proved successful for films like The Shop Around the Corner and You’ve Got Mail.
Regardless, Burton is at least currently avoiding one of the less pleasant aspects of shooting a Christmas movie in summer. “She’ll be shooting a Christmas movie in the Bayou and it’s 120 degrees and she’s having to wear a parka,” laughed Morgan, “She sends me picture because I’m usually working on The Walking Dead that time of year, and it makes me giggle.”
“We’re really good actors!” Burton added with a chuckle. But will she now act out her quarantine Christmas dream story? Only time will tell if that is a present that shows up on our TV screens in six-months time.