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Milwaukee's Daily Magazine for Saturday, Oct. 25, 2014

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In Movies & TV Commentary

Lacey Chabert and Warren Christie star in the Hallmark Movie Channel's "Color of Rain" that airs at 8 p.m. Sunday.

"The Color of Rain" brings real-life story to TV


It takes a certain group of skills to bring a true story to life. Instead of playing a written character, the actor has to portray someone who actually existed. And it is even harder if that person is alive, standing behind the camera watching the actor at work.

Lacey Chabert, probably best known for playing the young Claudia Salinger on "Party of Five" and Penny Robinson in the "Lost in Space" movie, faces that task in playing Gina Spehn, co-author of the 2011 book "The Color of Rain."

"Whenever you have the opportunity to play someone that is a real live person, and to be a part of telling their story, it's an exciting chance," Chabert said in an interview conference call last week.

"I saw a piece that Gina and Michael (Spehn) had done on the 'Today' show, and I was really moved just by their story and the fact that they were able to find each other after suffering through such loss. And I read the book actually before I read the script, and I was just so moved by it."

The Spehns wrote The New York Times bestseller, "The Color of Rain" about blending their families after they both lost their spouses to cancer.

The story goes like this: When young husband and father Matt Kell succumbs to a terminal cancer diagnosis on Christmas day 2005, his widow, Gina, and two young boys are left to cope with the pain of his loss while their close church community gathers around them for support.

In a gut-wrenching coincidence, just weeks after Matt's death, Cathy Spehn is also suddenly taken by cancer, leaving her distraught husband, Michael, to care for their three kids on his own.

Inspired by this true story, the film -- which airs at 8 p.m. Sunday on the Hallmark Movie Channel -- follows both families as they become one after cancer.

Warren Christie, who played key roles in "Alphas" and "Happy Town," stars in the film as Michael Spehn.

"When I was sent the script. I didn't realize that it was a true story until the very last page, and at that moment my stomach dropped a little bit and I went back to figure it out," Christie said.

"You know there's obviously an added responsibility, like Lacey (Chabert) said, that comes and you want to make sure you put the heart and soul into the story that it deserves and that it warrants. And I just thought it was a really beautiful story about love and loss and healing, and an important one, and one that was going to resonate with a lot of people."

In the made-for-TV project, Gina and Michael learn to lean on each other during at-times insurmountable obstacles, tears and adversity. They begin to heal with laughter, compassion and faith. And, when Gina and Michael realize their newfound bond could be more than just friendship, they struggle against surprising resistance from their families and community to unite their two grieving families as one, and eventually learn to open their hearts to love again.

NEW NIGHTIME HOST: Going the way with one-word names like Cher and Oprah, a man known as Shane will join the WXSS-FM 103.7 Kiss FM line-up on June 23.

Shane takes over the 7 p.m. to midnight slot left open when Michele McKnight left the station for a gig in San Antonio.

"After a nationwide search, we are excited that the absolute right candidate was in our own backyard and are thrilled to welcome Shane to the KISS Klubhouse," said Entercom Milwaukee VP of operations Brian Kelly.

Shane worked nights on WIXX-FM in Green Bay.

"I'm so thrilled to start working for KISS-FM in Milwaukee," Shane said.

"I'm so thankful that Brian Kelly is giving me the opportunity to entertain the great people of Milwaukee! I can't wait and I am so excited that I'm going to be working alongside some very talented on-air personalities. I hope Southeast Wisconsin accepts my love for hot pockets, Chuck Norris and great music,"

SUMMER SCHEDULE: In the summer, when school is out, Milwaukee Public Television knows that its audience of children 4-8 years old grows. So, starting next week, the daytime schedule on Ch. 10 will offer more children's programming.

Below is the new PBS KIDS program schedule to air on MPTV 10, Monday-Friday:

5 a.m. -- "Clifford the Big Red Dog"

5:30 a.m. -- "Caillou"

6 a.m. -- "Wild Kratts"

7 a.m. -- "Curious George"

8 a.m. -- "Peg + Cat"

8:30 a.m. -- "Dinosaur Train"

9 a.m. -- "Sesame Street"

10 a.m. -- "Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood"

11 a.m. -- "Dinosaur Train"

12 p.m. -- "Sesame Street"

1 p.m. -- "Super Why!"

1:30 p.m. -- "Cat in the Hat"

2 p.m. -- "Curious George"

3 p.m. -- "Arthur"

4 p.m. -- "Wild Kratts"

5 p.m. -- "Martha Speaks"

5:30 p.m. -- "Cyberchase"

Also the new "Space Racers" will launch at 9 a.m. on Sundays on MPTV Ch. 10. This new animated series for preschoolers is designed to teach young viewers about the power of scientific investigation and observation, the wonders of space, and the importance of teamwork -- all with fun and engaging characters.

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