Discovery+ is making the holiday season even sweeter, with a little help from Food Network and HGTV. Both networks have teamed up with Warner Bros. Discovery to produce four scripted holiday movies just for the streaming service. After the recent cancellation of multiple holiday projects, it is great to see more Christmas films moving forward at Warner Bros. Discovery, along with A Christmas Story Christmas at HBO Max.
Aside from all the fabulous talent both on and off screen, each of these original Discovery+ Christmas movies will also feature a major star from their respective networks. This comes a year after the enormous success of their first ever scripted project — Candy Coated Christmas, which featured Food Network star Ree Drummond. Now we’re getting four times the holiday cheer right when we need it most. All four have just completed filming and are set to launch on November 11th, 2022.
‘A Christmas Open House’
Our first film by HGTV is titled A Christmas Open House, featuring husband-and-wife team Ben and Erin Napier from the reality series Home Town. The two have spent years renovating houses in Laurel Mississippi, which also serves as the basis of their show. This is the first ever acting role for both of them. Joining the couple are Katie Stevens, Victor Rasuk, and Bobbi Eakes, with Emily Moss Wilson serving as director.
Melissa Norwood (Stevens) is an ambitious Atlanta property stager who teams with her old high school crush, David Phelps (Rasuk), to sell her newly married mom’s home in their small Georgia home town. The place is cozy but hasn’t been updated in decades, so the two join up to renovate the place before a couple of wealthy potential buyers are due to see the house on Christmas Eve. Melissa would love to spend a portion of her budget on a few custom projects created by a unique couple, Henry and Sarah Wright (Mr. and Mrs. Napier), who are gifted at small town home restoration and appreciate the legacy of a family home. Henry is a master woodworker and custom furniture builder, and Sarah is an artist with an expertise in color and transformative design choices. As Christmas approaches and the tensions grow, so does a romantic relationship between Melissa and David, but the fact that Melissa intends to return to Atlanta and start her own business with the cash she will get from the property sale, while David has no intention of leaving his home town, could be a deal breaker for their new relationship.
The next HGTV-based project, Designing Christmas, features renowned designer Hilary Farr, co-host of the long-running series Love It or List It. The British-Canadian had worked as an actress throughout the seventies while getting her start in home renovation. Believe it or not, this is her first on-screen acting role since the mid-1980s. She's joined by ‘Gossip Girl’s’ Jessica Szohr, along with Marco Grazzini, Mykee Selkin, Leighton Williams, Fiona Highet, Eugene Clark, and Nicole Power. Pat Mills is the film’s director.
“For the past six years, interior designer Stella (Szohr) and contractor Pablo (Grazzini), have charmed homeowners and viewers alike as co-hosts of the renovation show “House Sweet Home” by relying on their expertise and palpable on-screen chemistry despite not being an actual couple. After the owners of the home slated for their upcoming holiday episode pull out, Pablo and the “HSH” team convince Stella to be their next client in hopes of saving the episode and the show itself. This has a trepidatious Stella not only agreeing to renovate her family’s Victorian home with Pablo (a.k.a. The Sledgehammer), but also moving her impending nuptials to fiancé Jack (Selkin) up several months in a bid to make this their biggest and best episode yet. As Stella and Pablo labor together more closely than ever before to bring her family’s beloved home back from a state of disrepair in time for the Christmas Eve ceremony, Stella confides in her mentor Freddy (Farr) about the complicated and unexplored feelings that could jeopardize everything.”
‘A Gingerbread Christmas’
Moving on to Food Network, we have a sweet treat, A Gingerbread Christmas. Stepping into a very familiar role is celebrity pastry chef, star of Ace of Cakes, and judge on Holiday Baking Championship, Duff Goldman. While he has dabbled in acting before — most notably in an episode of The Clone Wars — this is his most substantial role yet. Goldman joins an already sizable cast that features Tiya Sircar, Sugith Varughese, Kyana Teresa, Marc Bendavid, Mara Vujicic, and Fereshteh Samimi. Pat Kiley serves as director.
“After a devastating workplace development throws Hazel Stanley’s (Sircar) job prospects as a full-time architect into question, she leaves NYC to spend the holidays with her father Ted (Varughese) in her suburban Chicago home town. While there, she discovers that the family bakery is even worse off than she imagined, having been on the decline since the passing of her mother. And to add insult to injury, her former best friend Shelby (Teresa) has opened a trendy new bake shop across the street. When all seems to be lost, she gets the idea to enter a Gingerbread house competition led by homegrown food celebrity Mark Clemmons (Goldman) offering a $100k prize — enough to get the ailing bakery back on track. While working on her magnificent cookie edifice, a romance begins to bloom with a local contractor, James Meadows (Bendavid), who — along with his daughter — has been helping her father out by lending his baking prowess to the place while trying to fix it up in his spare time. A series of frustrations and misunderstandings threaten to tear them apart, but will the magic of the holiday lead everyone to have a Merry Christmas?”
‘One Delicious Christmas’
And for our last film in this lineup — One Delicious Christmas — we have none other than celebrity chef and long-time Food Network icon, Bobby Flay. Having been with the network since the mid-90s he’s hosted many TV shows over the years such as Beat Bobby Flay, Worst Cooks in America, and BBQ Brawl. Flay has also done occasional acting work, playing different versions of himself in shows like Entourage and Portlandia. Rounding out the cast is Switched at Birth’s Vanessa Marano with Alex Mallari Jr., Kathy Maloney, Elana Dunkleman, and Bert Cardozo, with Stacy N. Harding directing.
“The future of Vermont culinary destination, Haven Restaurant and Inn, rests squarely on the shoulders of Abby Richmond (Marano), who inherited the property from her parents. Unfortunately, managing both the restaurant and the inn is a 24/7 commitment, leaving no time for Abby to have a personal life. Her best hope is to secure an investment from restaurant mogul Alexandra Grantham (Maloney), who would provide much needed resources and guidance. But to do so, she’ll have to navigate rough waters after top food critic Tom Kingsley (Flay) visits Haven and gives Alexandra his menu feedback. Hot shot chef Preston Weaver (Mallari Jr.) is brought in by Alexandra to “shake up” the holiday menu after Abby unexpectedly loses her longtime chef. Unbeknownst to Preston, the menu was curated by Abby’s late father, and she’s having a tough time letting go of it. Despite their undeniable chemistry, will they be able to put aside their differences in time for Alexandra and Tom’s Christmas Eve dinner visit, which will determine whether she invests in Haven or not?”
Food Network and HGTV: Two Happy Holiday Staples
As two of the most popular lifestyle channels in the country, both Food Network and HGTV are chock-full of seasonal specials all year round. But it’s no surprise to anyone that Christmastime is their peak time. From festive recipes and decorating tips to amazing travel destinations, they’ve shown us new ways to celebrate the holiday season for close to three decades now. And even though they now focus on competitions and reality tv, they’re still as popular as ever with a whole new audience. So it only made sense for them to branch out into scripted films. Kathleen Finch, the chairman and chief content officer of US Networks Group at Warner Bros. Discovery, explained further in an interview with Variety.
“The holidays are huge for HGTV and Food Network, which together attracted 90 million seasonal viewers last year. So we expanded our offerings and produced four scripted holiday features for Discovery+, each showcasing some of the biggest personalities on Food Network and HGTV.” Kathleen Finch, Chief Content Officer, Warner Bros. Discovery
We at the Elf Squad can’t get enough of these networks and look forward to their holiday specials every single year. Now, with four original Christmas movies to look forward to, we have even more reasons to be excited!