10:00am PT by Lesley Goldberg
Lea Michele to Star in ABC Holiday Movie From Freeform
ABC Entertainment president Karey Burke is making good on her promise to better connect the broadcast network and its cable-focused sibling, Freeform.
The Disney-owned broadcaster has picked up the holiday movie Same Time, Next Christmas, starring Glee grad Lea Michele. The telepic hails from Freeform Studios, the production arm of Freeform — where Burke previously served as head of originals.
The movie — to be released in tandem with singer-actress Michele's first Christmas album — will air in December and brings her back to the network following her role on ABC's short-lived comedy The Mayor. Michele will star as Olivia Henderson, a woman who met her childhood sweetheart during her family's annual Christmas visit to Hawaii. After being separated by distance and years, the two reunite at the same Hawaii resort years later and the old chemistry between them flares up anew — but circumstances conspire to keep them apart.
"This holiday season holds special importance to me, as I get to celebrate both my role in this film and my first-ever holiday album," Michele said Monday in a statement. "I'm honored to return to ABC with this movie event, and I am excited to share the holidays with everyone."
The movie is being executive produced by EveryWhere Studios' Tom Mazza and David Culvert Jones. Stephen Herek (Dolly Parton’s Coat of Many Colors, Mr. Holland’s Opus) will direct. Karen Bloch Morse penned the script.
Burke, in a March interview with The Hollywood Reporter, signaled that she would look to better unite ABC and Freeform in her new role atop the broadcaster. "We’ve been talking with [Freeform president] Tom Ascheim and his team about grabbing a couple projects for ABC and partnering on some holiday movies," she said at the time.
Michele is repped by WME, Untitled and Offer Weber Dern.
Freeform has fully embraced holiday programming and has found success with its annual 25 Days of Christmas, which includes multiple original movies. The themed-programming month has performed well for the network, which typically benches its original scripted series outside of that, as well as its annual monthlong Halloween fare.