Here’s today’s dispatch from the crossroads of faith, media and culture.
‘Tis the season. Yesterday, I posted my conversation with UP Founder and CEO Charley Humbard about how his network’s Top Secret Santa campaign (part of the network’s ongoing Uplift Someone initiative) is an attempt to carry forth the values of the channel’s programming into real life and action.
UP, of course, is building a reputation for offering Uplifting Entertainment and, during the holiday season, bills itself as America’s Christmas Channel. Between Thanksgiving and Christmas the channel will roll out more than 400 hours of traditional, values-based programming of the type that you just don’t find much of on the broadcast networks these days.
Highlights include exclusive world premieres and UP Original Movies, including this weekend’s Silver Bells (to be reviewed here tomorrow) Marry Me For Christmas, Guess Who’s Coming to Christmas, Silver Bells, 3 Day Christmas, Angel in the House, Christmas For A Dollar, Thomas Kinkade’s Christmas Miracle, and the UP Original Christmas Special K-LOVE Music City Christmas Special.
UP’s Christmas season program highlights include the following. All times are EDT. See local listings for encore broadcasts:
SILVER BELLS – UP Premiere Movie
Premiere: Sunday, December 1 at 7 p.m. EDT
Bruce Dalt is an ambitious, gung-ho father and local TV sports anchor who approaches the holidays much like he approaches life – competitively. This Christmas, he wants his interior designing wife Piper to win the neighborhood’s annual holiday house decorating contest. He wants his son Jason to be the winning basketball player on his high school team. And of course, he wants everyone in the family — including daughter Kasey, who is in her first year of law school – to win by securing the biggest Black Friday shopping deals before dawn. Bruce Dalt is all “for the win!” This philosophy, however, has put a strain on his family; especially Jason, who has more heart than competitive drive. When Bruce gets into a physical scuffle with a ref at Jason’s basketball game, the holidays take a turn for the worse. In no time, the video goes viral. Bruce is then sued, suspended from the anchor desk, and sentenced to community service with The Salvation Army. There, he meets Major Melvin Lowell, who patiently guides Bruce while managing his competitive streak. When Bruce encounters the people in his life from behind the kettle, everything – especially his relationship with his son – begins to change. The Dalts are about to embark on the most meaningful holiday season ever — all thanks to ringing that signature bell. Stars: Bruce Boxleitner, Bridgett Newton, Kenton Duty, Laura Spencer, Kevin Downes and Antonio Fargas.
25TH ANNIVERSARY SPECIAL: A VERY SPECIAL CHRISTMAS
Thursday, December 5 at 11 p.m. EDT
This landmark documentary music special celebrates 25 years of A Very Special Christmas, the holiday album series benefiting Special Olympics. The special is a blend of new and historical performances, music videos, interviews and inspirational Special Olympic profiles. Featured artists include Francesca Battistelli, Jon Bon Jovi, Sheryl Crow, Martina McBride, John Mellencamp, Tom Petty, Darius Rucker, Run-DMC, Jordin Sparks, Bruce Springsteen, Sting, Train, U2, Stevie Wonder and many more. Hosted by Grammy, Emmy and Tony-nominated entertainer Vanessa Williams.
GUESS WHO’S COMING TO CHRISTMAS – UP Original Movie
Premiere: Sunday, December 8 at 7 p.m. EDT
Jaded rock star Dax is found by New York paparazzi passed out in his car with a frozen holiday turkey in the passenger seat. In order to repair his tarnished image, Dax publicly agrees to grant a fan’s “Dear Santa” Christmas wish. To his dismay, his manager Jason drops Dax off in Cedar Grove, a small Midwest town, where he’s committed to spend a week and perform in a local holiday Christmas concert. At first, Dax is horrified to be stuck in the Reverend Harding family’s home with strict rules and a curfew. But he soon becomes charmed by the Reverend’s wife Lynne, teenage son Tim and very surprised contest winner and daughter Kelly, a sassy, unemployed book jacket writer. Dax begins to appreciate what the Hardings have as a family – love, caring and an uplifting holiday spirit. Stars: Drew Lachey, MacKenzie Porter, Matt Ward, Peter Lacroix, Ellie Harvie, Evan Bird and Olivia Cheng. The movie features an original musical duet by Lachey and Porter, entitled You.
K-LOVE MUSIC CITY CHRISTMAS – UP Christmas Special
Premiere: Monday, December 9 at 8 p.m. EDT
UP and contemporary national radio powerhouse K-LOVE partner to create the very first K-LOVE Christmas music special, hosted by Candace Cameron Bure (UP’s Finding Normal, Full House). The special will include interviews and performances of beloved Christmas standards and new original songs by top contemporary music artists, including TobyMac, Newsboys with for KING & COUNTRY, Mandisa, Colton Dixon, Kari Jobe, Matthew West, David Crowder and Tenth Avenue North. Taped before a live audience in Nashville, TN. The special will be simulcast nationally to K-LOVE radio listeners. ,
Premiere: Saturday, December 14 at 7 p.m. EDT
Marcie Jewel is a successful ad executive who is happy with her life. But while all of her cousins are married and having babies, Marcie is the only one who has passed up marriage and motherhood for the sake of her career. As the family prepares for the big Christmas Eve wedding of Marcieʼs favorite cousin, Dana (who also happens to be the last of the cousins besides Marcie to get married), Marcieʼs mom, Stephanie Chandler Jewel, is applying pressure to her daughter to settle down and have children. So she does the only thing she can do: find a fake fiancé. Star: Malinda Williams.
CHRISTMAS FOR A DOLLAR – UP Premiere Movie
Premiere: Sunday, December 15 at 7 p.m. EDT
The Kamp family is struggling to get by, particularly since Mrs. Kamp’s untimely death. The older children do their best to take care of the family, but the younger children — straight-talking little Ruthie and Norman, a fan of fictional cowboy hero Hopalong Cassidy – struggle most with a bleak-looking future. With their father facing mounting debts resulting from Norman’s battle with polio, the siblings expect a Christmas without presents. But when father scrapes together a dollar to use for gifts, things change. As each child comes up with a special gift to give another member of the family, they soon begin to see many of their dearest wishes come true. Perhaps a boy who struggles to walk can become a real cowboy after all. Based on the book by Gale Sears. Stars: Brian Krause, Nancy Stafford, Danielle Chuchran, Heather Beers, James Gaisford, Jacob Buster, Ruby Jones, Ethan Hunt.
Starting on Monday, November 18 and running through Tuesday, December 31, all of UP’s music blocks will feature all genres of Christmas music.
On December 24 at 8:00 p.m. EDT, UP will present its annual Yule Log featuring 24 toasty hours of gospel and Christian music with limited commercial interruption.
UP will also present musical specials from Mary, Mary (11/30, 12/21), Ann Nesby (11/30, 12/14)), Chris Tomlin (12/12) and Ernie Haase (12/17),
Other December movies and specials will include Christmas Angel, 3-Day Pass, Fred Hammond’s Christmas Who Needs It, Bless all the Dear Children, Town Without Christmas, Finding John Christmas, When Angels Come to Town, Angel in the House, The Heart of Christmas, Christmas at Union Station 2007: Jars of Clay, Stealing Christmas, When Angels Come to Town, The Homecoming: A Christmas Story, Ebbie, Thomas Kinkade’s Christmas Miracle, Christmas with a Capital ‘C’, The Christmas Gift, A Christmas Snow, A Heartland Christmas, The Christmas Box, The Kid Who Loved Christmas, Esther, The Ten Commandments, Jeremiah and Mary, Mother of Jesus.
Between now and Christmas UP will also present a treasure trove of Christmas-themed episode of vintage series such as 227, The Waltons, Touched by an Angel, 7th Heaven, Family Ties, Moesha and Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman.
Encourage one another and build each other up – 1 Thessalonians 5:11