Lifetime is making a star-studded list, checking it twice, and adding EGOT award winner Rita Moreno and returning favorites Marissa Jaret Winokur and Sarah Drew to the network’s 2022 It’s a Wonderful Lifetime movie slate. Moreno will be starring in Santa Bootcamp along with Winokur (Hairspray), Emily Kinney (The Walking Dead) and Justin Gaston (Nashville Star) and the holiday tentpole movie will be directed by the network’s Queen of Christmas, Melissa Joan Hart. This will mark a holiday reunion for Hart and Winokur, as they previously starred in the network’s 2018 film A Very Nutty Christmas together. In addition, Santa Bootcamp will be Hart’s fourth directed picture for the network, which will join her previously directed Lifetime films, The Santa Con, Feliz NaviDAD and The Watcher in the Woods. Santa Bootcamp will also showcase the network’s commitment to diversity and inclusivity, as deaf actors Deanne Bray and Zyra Singleton will be joining the cast.
Sarah Drew (Grey’s Anatomy, Cruel Summer) pulls triple duty as the star, executive producer, and writer of Reindeer Games Homecoming. Drew stars opposite Justin Bruening (Sweet Magnolias, Grey’s Anatomy), reuniting the two former co-stars. Sarah has previously starred in Twinkle All the Way and Christmas Pen Pals. All will be joining Lifetime’s current nice list of announced 2022 holiday talent which includes Mario Lopez, Jana Kramer, Keshia Knight Pulliam, Patti LaBelle, Brooke Elliott, Brandon Quinn and Danny Pintauro.
“I have always been a holiday person… particularly Christmas. The idea that I’m actually going to participate in this wonderful Lifetime Christmas movie, Santa Bootcamp, just tickles me to no end,” said Moreno. “I have been known, at Christmas time, to decorate anyone in my house who happens to stand still for more than a minute. I will decorate anyone and anything because I turn into a child. Therefore, what a treat for me! Thank you Lifetime. My grandchildren are already celebrating!”
The full It’s a Wonderful Lifetime slate and airdates will be announced this fall.
Full movie descriptions:
When event planner, Emily Strauss (Emily Kinney, The Walking Dead), is hired by mall magnate, Ed Mancini (Patrick Cassidy, Castle) to stage the ultimate Christmas Gala for his most important investors, Emily finds herself being sent to bootcamp – Santa Bootcamp – to find the perfect Santa and inspiration she will need to make the evening a success. While there, Emily meets Belle (Rita Moreno, West Side Story), the bootcamp’s drill sergeant with a heart of gold, who helps Emily rediscover the magic of Christmas and find romance along the way. Additional casting includes Tony(R) award winner Marissa Jaret Winokur, Justin Gaston, John Schuck, and deaf actors Deanne Bray and Zyra Singleton.
Santa Bootcamp is directed by Melissa Joan Hart, who also serves as executive producer along with Irene Dreayer, Gina Rugolo Judd, and Paula Hart. The film is produced by Hartbreak Films Inc with a script written by Michael J. Murray.
MacKenzie Graves (Sarah Drew, Grey’s Anatomy, Amber Brown) is a brilliant, competitive, crossword puzzle loving Biology teacher in Vermont who recently lost her father, beloved fire chief and the heart of the town’s holiday fundraising tradition “The Reindeer Games.” Every year since his death, she competes with her dad’s former team, a group of colorful retired firefighters, to win the Games and keep his tradition alive. The holiday however, her world is rocked when fading Hollywood star, and Mac’s high school crush, Chase Weston (Justin Bruening, Grey’s Anatomy, Sweet Magnolias), comes home for Christmas to visit his pregnant sister and nephew and is begrudgingly roped into participating in the Games. When the opportunity to compete against her former mega crush arises, Mac is determined to show him up and win the Kris Kringle Cup at all costs. As the competition heats up, so does the spark between Mac and Chase, and Chase soon finds himself eager to not only win the games, but also win her heart as well. Brian Sills also stars.
Reindeer Games Homecoming is produced by Johnson Production Group for Off Camera Entertainment. Stephanie Slack, Margret Huddleston, Sarah Drew, and Tim Johnson serve as executive producers. The film is directed by Brian Herzlinger with a script written by Sarah Drew.