Here’s today’s dispatch from the crossroads of faith, media and culture.

Production began this week in Atlanta on the UP Original Movie A Baby for Christmas. The romantic comedy stars Malinda Williams (Soul Food), Victoria Rowell (The Young and the Restless) and Karon Riley (35 and Ticking) continuing the roles they created and honed in UP’s Marry Me for Christmas and its first sequel Marry US for ChristmasA Baby for Christmas will premiere on UP on Sunday, December 13 at 7:00 PM (ET) as part of the network’s Everything you Love About Christmas annual Christmas programming slate.   

The film reunites the ensemble cast which includes Greg Alan Williams (Necessary Roughness, The West Wing), Chrystale Wilson (For Richer or Poorer), DeEtta West (Lyfe’s Journey), Clifton Powell (Ray, Norbitt) and Kristoff St. John (The Young and the Restless, Family Time) A Baby for Christmas is produced by Atlanta-based Swirl Films.

Rhonda Freeman-Baraka, who wrote the first two films, makes her directorial debut with this one. “Some of the best times I’ve ever had on a movie set,” she says, “have been with the cast of the UP’s Marry Me for Christmas franchise…Making my directorial debut with the third installment of this series and directing what I sincerely believe to be one of the best casts to ever appear on TV is beyond exciting! Can’t wait to see the magic unfold — again!”

UP Original Programming SVP Barbara Fisher adds “It’s a joy to bring the heart-warming Chandler family back this year with another magical story about love, family and Christmas…The chemistry between this talented ensemble cast brilliantly shines in a story packed with wonderful funny moments as the Chandler family deals with a frenetic Christmas season.

Synopsis (From UP’s press release): This Christmas, the Chandler family, much to Stephanie’s (Victoria Rowell) dismay, seem to be distracted from the usual family holiday traditions. Marci (Malinda Williams) and Blair (Karon Riley), who tied the knot in last year’s Marry US For Christmas, are eagerly awaiting the birth of their first child due on Christmas day. The couple is doing everything in their power to ensure that they have the perfect baby girl – from meditation to changing their eating habits. Work-wise, Marci is trying to juggle impending motherhood with meeting the demands of her top client, Friendly Family Floral. Blair is back to running his own firm. Money is tight but he and Marci are happy and eagerly awaiting the arrival of their little bundle of joy.  Meanwhile, Marcis Aunt Myra (DeEtta West) and Uncle Donald (Greg Alan Williams), who recently retired, are feeling useless.  Eventually they find a meaningful way to occupy their time at the urging of Donalds cousin, Gavin Brooks (Clifton Powell).  Aunt Elizabeth (Chrystale Wilson) is obsessed with getting a promotion at work.  Add to the mix, Stephanies blooming romance with Lawrence (Kristoff St. John) who is torn between being with her or continuing his mission work. It appears the Chandlers have abandoned their Christmas traditions and lost the spirit of Christmas.  That is, until a group of kids at an orphanage helps the family to realize there is more to Christmas than wrapping gifts and baking cookies. 

IMHO: I reviewed the first two films about the Chanders (which you can read here and here) and I must say that it’s true that the writing for both of those was crisp and the cast displayed remarkable chemistry. As UP continues its push into scripted series, I personally think the network could do far worse than to consider continuing the story of the likable Chandler family on a weekly basis.

Encourage one another and build each other up – 1 Thessalonians 5:11

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