The Hallmark holiday movie craze is officially coming to Milwaukee!
Hallmark's production company announced today that the channel will leave the cozy confines of its typical Canadian backlot and film a new Christmas movie, "Brewing Up Love," right here in Brew City next month.
The film will star Kendra Michaels (most famous for playing "Classmate #4" in "Mean Girls") and former "The Bachelor" star Nick Viall as rival brewery owners Jessie and Adam. Jessie is a small-town craft brewer whose family's heartfelt and handcrafted brand of beer, Rose's County Craft Brewery, has gotten the residents of her quaint humble hamlet rip-roaring drunk for decades. However, unless the company can come up with a big new beer idea, her mother has plans to sell the family brewery to Adam and the big-city conglomerate beer company he represents, Milweiser Lite.
Will Jessie, and her son Noah, be able to come up with a new brew to save the family business? And will cynical Adam learn to love not only the small town and Christmas ... but Jessie, as well?
And how does a magical holiday angel in the form of the Bronze Fonz, played by Henry Winkler, fit into this bubbly tale of Brew City rivals fit in? Will there be more than one black person with a speaking role? Was beloved local actor and smiley loveball John McGivern really left out of this precious Milwaukee movie moment? There's only one way to find out: Tune in this holiday season to Hallmark!
First, however, they need to shoot the film – and for this one, director Jeff Jott thought they really needed to shoot on location.
"Right when we got here, we knew it was perfect," Jott told OnMilwaukee. "And by here, I mean Cedarburg. We'll shoot some B-roll of some generic buildings, the skyline, maybe the big funky art museum and a quick shot of the Milwaukee Public Market so there's something with the word 'Milwaukee' on screen, but we'll film the rest in Cedarburg. I mean, the town already looks like a Hallmark movie!"
While the location's worked out, however, the production has already run into some drama. Hallmark favorite and co-star Lori Laughlin, originally cast as Jessie's mother, had to drop out of "Brewing Up Love" due to some legal troubles, and Candace Cameron Bure was unavailable to fill in the role due to the fact that she's currently filming 17 other Hallmark movies this month.
"We're running out of 'Full House' alums to cast," Jott told OnMilwaukee. "We're legitimately THIS close to casting Kimmy Gibbler."
Thankfully, "Brewing Up Love" is locked in for its romantic leads – including Viall, taking on his biggest acting role since an advertisement for Halo Top ice cream.
"It was either this or a fourth season of 'Bachelor' – and frankly they weren't answering my calls anymore. So Hallmark it is," Viall confided to OnMilwaukee. "I feel pretty confident about the role. I'm used to pretending I'm falling in love, so shouldn't be too difficult for me."
The screenplay seems tight as well. Jott passed along an advanced copy of the script, which features plenty of surprises for Hallmark fans. For instance, Jessie's son is precocious as opposed to just merely cute and charming, and – spoiler alert – and Jessie and Adam don't stop falling in love until about the 45-minute mark, very different from the usual 30-minute mark of most Hallmark features.
"It's definitely it's own thing, very original – but still, if you're a fan of our Hallmark originals 'Autumn in the Vineyard,' 'Summer in the Vineyard,' 'The Sweetest Christmas,' 'Moonlight in Vermont,' 'Matchmaker Santa,' 'Christmas in Love,' 'Another Autumn in the Vineyard' and pretty much any Hallmark movie, you'll feel right at home," Jott said.
Some local color will definitely make an appearance as well. The aforementioned Bronze Fonz will play magical matchmaker, while the former Grand Avenue Christmas bears will make for an adorably precious and unique setting.
"It's not only the perfect backdrop for our characters' meet-cute, but I'm filming a horror movie, 'Stuffed Bears From Hell,' just a few days later that they'll be idea for," Jott said.
Filming will begin in May, with the film's premiere expecting sometime during the Christmas season – which, on the Hallmark Channel, should begin sometime in early August.