Entertainment, News

Local screenwriter fuels holiday cheer

By Aaron Blevins, 11/21/2012

‘Hitched for the Holidays’ to screen on Hallmark Channel

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When people return to their normal operations following Thanksgiving, one Laurel Canyon resident is hopeful that they’ll tune in to the Hallmark Channel for a dose of holiday comedy relief.

Joey Lawrence and Emily Hampshire appear in “Hitched for the Holidays”, to air on Nov. 25 on the Hallmark Channel. (photo courtesy of the Hallmark Channel)

Screenwriter Gary Goldstein’s “Hitched for the Holidays” will air at 8 p.m. on Nov. 25, and its message to viewers is clear: The holidays can be tough, but sharing them with loved ones can overtake the emotional craziness.

“The holidays are not going away, so you have to find a way to enjoy them,” Goldstein said.

This is especially true for singles Rob (Joey Lawrence) and Julie (Emily Hampshire), who are being pressured by their families to bring significant others to the upcoming holiday festivities. They both confide in an Internet classifieds site, and enlist one another to fill their respective vacancies.

The pairing of the two New Yorkers isn’t entirely perfect, however. Rob’s family celebrates Christmas, whereas Julie’s family is Jewish. Goldstein said the conflicting religions offered a fun canvas for a holiday comedy.

“That created a great engine for it,” he said. “In comedy, you want to create as much conflict as possible. …It also creates a lot of opportunities to show that these characters are good people who are trying to do the right thing.”

Goldstein said he wrote “Hitched for the Holidays” as a feature film five or six years ago. Although it didn’t sell as a feature, his agent was able to sell it as a TV movie to Hallmark.

He said the idea stems from a Christmas Eve party he attended in which a large number of people were single. With so much emotional baggage attached to the holidays, Goldstein wondered how far a person would go to secure a date, especially if there are extenuating circumstances.

“I thought it was very universal,” he said. “It was a very broad-based comedy.”

Goldstein said repurposing the “Hitched for the Holidays” screenplay for television was an “interesting process.” He said the acting is “terrific,” and the original integrity and heart of the screenplay was maintained.

“I think they just did a great job,” Goldstein said. “I had an excellent collaboration with my director and producer.”

He said Hallmark held a screening of the movie at The Grove earlier in November, and he was pleased with the response.

“It was so great to watch the movie on the big screen in the theatre with a packed audience,” Goldstein said, adding that he is looking forward to the movie airing. “It’s always fun when they air it, and they’ll be re-running it throughout the holidays.”

“Hitched for the Holidays” is not Goldstein’s first Hallmark TV movie. He’s also written “The Wish List”, “A Crush On You”, “The Cabin” and “Strawberry Summer”. Two movies — “This Magic Moment” and “My Boyfriends’ Dogs” — will air on the Hallmark channel in the relatively near future.

“The TV movie world has created a lot of opportunities for the kind of writing that I do,” Goldstein said.

He said the first screenplay that he sold was an episode of “Saved by the Bell”. Since then, he’s written for TV, movies and stage plays. Goldstein has also written six TV movies in the last six years.

“They all have their different forms of gratification and kind of availability,” he added.

Originally from New York, Goldstein moved to Southern California in 1984. A Boston University graduate, he began his career as a marketing executive for Universal Pictures. Goldstein then began writing and got some work in television. That segued into screenplays and stage plays.

“I really enjoy the writing process,” Goldstein added. “I find it really gratifying.”

He said he frequently writes “high-concept comedies” and romantic comedies, though he has also written material that is more serious in nature. The Laurel Canyon resident, who is “hitched,” said he likes getting big laughs at big moments.

“By and large, I’m a comedy guy,” he said. “People will get a kick out of it, having just spent Thanksgiving with their families. I’m really proud of it. I think it’s a fun story that people relate to. Everybody kind of relates to the times they were alone.”

For information, visit www.hallmarkchannel.com/hitchedfortheholidays.

 

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