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Hallmark For The Holidays

Let it be known: Michelle Todd Schorsch loves Hallmark holiday movies. But she is far from an ordinary fan: Michelle is the host of “Hallmark for the Holidays,” a podcast that breaks down the movies where warmth, love and Christmas never ends. Each episode takes the latest offerings from the Hallmark Countdown to Christmas — now in its 10th year — and examines their unique effect on cable TV programming, a feeling of love and romance, nostalgia for a simpler time and the celebration of a seasonal spirit we welcome now — and all year round.

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Episode 5: Christmas In Rome

On the latest Hallmark for the Holidays, Michelle and Peter breakdown “Christmas in Rome,” a story of love, romance and the holiday spirit blooming in the beautiful Eternal City. An independent-minded American tour guide named Angela (Lacey Chabert) loses her job in Rome just before Christmas. She crosses paths with an American executive named Oliver (Sam Page), who wants to buy a high-end Italian ceramics company. Oliver hires Angela to be his tour guide around the city, as Mr. Fermengetti — the owner of the ceramics company — won’t sell it to him until Oliver learns “the heart and soul of Rome.” But is there another heart and soul that he may win? First impressions: — Great Nat King Cole song at the beginning. Rome is beautiful during Christmas ... watch it just to see Rome. Meet cute? — Oliver bumps into Angela while texting — Angela scolds him to put down the phone and enjoy the beauty of Rome. He ends up asking Angela for help finding his business meeting. Angela walks him to his business meeting. What's the dilemma? Is it believable? — Oliver needs to close the deal to acquire a high-end ceramics company, but the owner is very old school and will only sell to someone who knows the “soul of Rome.” — Angela is trying to start her own tour guide company and needs investors to start. Christmas events: — Making gingerbread houses with the neighbors — Oliver makes a gingerbread Colosseum. — Picking Angela’s Christmas tree — Oliver is apparently an expert on Christmas trees. — Baking Panettone as a gift for Mr. Fermengetti — Luigi. — Christmas concert in St. Peters Square. Christmas magic? — No. But there is plenty of magic in Rome! Main events: — Angela gets fired from her tour guide job for being too creative and spending too much time on tours. — Oliver is focused on quickly closing his business deal and Angela encourages him to slow down and enjoy Rome. — Angela points out the nativity scenes to Oliver — Romans take great pride in nativity scenes. — Angela tells Oliver that business protocol in Rome isn’t like in the states — there are cultural differences. — Luigi insists Angela join the business meeting and Angela stays because “she’s always wanted to eat at that restaurant.” — Luigi also insists on Oliver touring Rome, so Oliver hires Angela to be his tour guide for the week. — Angela takes Oliver on a real Christmas tour of Rome, not checklist tourism like so many other guides do. (Let’s say she wouldn’t be a Schorsch tour guide.) — Angela cautions that Christmas cocktails are lethal in Rome. — Pay it forward coffee! — Angela needs help writing a business plan, and Oliver offers to help her with one if she helps him close the deal with Luigi. — Oliver throws three coins into the Trevi Fountain — which brings true love. Angela’s parents had done the same thing. — Oliver gets Forlengheti. Cringeworthy moments? — Angela’s apartment is HUGE! Is working as a tour guide that lucrative?  — Oliver ends up taking a business call and learns he’s being promoted to VP, but he must leave Rome tomorrow. He tells Angela he can’t stay for Christmas, so Angela ends things with him. Swoonworthy moments? — Oliver gives Angela the day off to work around her “no dating clients rule,” so she’ll finally agree to go to dinner with him. — Oliver makes a Christmas ornament at the ceramic company as a Christmas gift for Angela — he’s painted every place she showed him around Rome. — Angela is excited for the date that she borrows a special dress — Oliver picks her up in a horse-drawn carriage. — Oliver ignores the phone call at dinner and says he’ll stay in Rome through New Year’s Day. — They dance to First Noel after Oliver tells Angela she’s the most amazing woman he’s ever met. The kiss 20 minutes before the end of the movie. — Angela finds Oliver at the Christmas concert thanks to the tracker she gave him. — Oliver tells Angela that he isn’t going to leave — he is going to stay in Rome and run Luigi’s company so he can stay with her. She is his new dream. — Oliver takes her to a particular spot in St. Peter’s Square and says — this is the spot your parents stood in that Christmas Eve photo. Then they kiss. Rating — out of 5 crowns. Five crowns. And, most importantly: Christmas cookie pairing — Panettone (of course).


6 Dec 2019

Rank #1

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Episode 4: Christmas At Graceland: Home For The Holidays

This week's episode of Hallmark for the Holidays features “Christmas at Graceland: Home for the Holidays,” where love, warmth and holiday magic take place at the home of the king — Elvis! "Graceland" begins as world-traveler Harper (Kaitlin Doubleday) returns to Memphis for the holidays and nannies for wealthy widower Owen (Adrian Grenier) while awaiting news about a job overseas. As they grow close, Harper encourages Owen to break out of his routine and spend more time with his children, while Owen encourages Harper to have confidence. Harper and Owen prepare for a joint event at Graceland featuring a fundraiser for Owen’s company and an Elvis at Christmas exhibit Harper is producing. They develop feelings for each other, and Harper realizes how much she enjoys living near family and must decide if her home for the holidays will become a forever home. “Christmas At Graceland” also features a special guest appearance by Priscilla Presley. First impressions: — This must be better than the original “Christmas at Graceland” since Kellie Pickler isn’t in it. Meet cute? — Harper agrees to add a family to her tour of Graceland with her nieces. It ends up being Owen and his 3 kids. — Owen is dropping the kids off for a tour, so he doesn’t join. Owen is having a meeting to plan a Christmas fundraiser gala at Graceland. — At the suggestion of Harper’s old boss at Graceland, he offers Harper the job as his nanny while she waits for info on the Brooks Museum job. What's the dilemma? Is it believable? — Owen’s competitor throws a Christmas party before Owen’s — exactly the same as the one Owen planned, so it will seem as if Owen just copied him. That can’t happen because Owen has to impress a big investor. — Owen’s company has to reach its fundraising target and the big investor will match if they double it. The party is intended to inspire people to donate to the charitable cause. — Harper falls in love with Owen ... but he’s based in Nashville and her dream job is in London. Main Christmas events? — Christmas wreath making with her nieces and sister — Christmas at Graceland holiday party — exhibit unveiling — Owen’s vendors business Christmas party that Harper joins him at Christmas magic? No. But, hey, it’s Graceland! Elvis magic! Cringeworthy moments? — Priscilla Presley. — Owen criticizes Harper for going off his schedule and baking Christmas goodies with the kids instead of making them do chores. — “I want my kids to have a magical Christmas and the only way that happens is if they stick to the schedule.” — Owen’s rigidity. His inability to see that being a slave to a schedule kills the joy of life/the holidays — Owen peeking through the window to watch his kids sing Christmas carols, then going back to his work rather than join in the fun and sing with the family — Sound editing — the 3 kids sing on the rooftop, yet it sounds like a whole class full of kids singing, not just 3 kids. — Globetrotter Harper asks if Brooks Museum may have a job in Nashville instead of her dream London job. — Harper gets the Brooks Museum job offer, but if she wants to take it, she has to leave for London on Dec. 28. — Harper and the kids singing “Home for the Holidays” at the Graceland Christmas party. — An old (and tired) trope … the woman gives up her dreams for a man. Swoonworthy moments? — Elvis Christmas carols. — Harper decorating the tree, making Yule logs, singing Christmas carols with the kids. — Elvis’s love of Christmas and family is a big part of this movie, especially compared to the last “Christmas in Graceland” movie. — Owen delivers hot chocolate from the kids to Harper. — Harper and Owen decorating cookies — Harper arranges for Owen and the kids to help Priscilla Presley decorate the Graceland Christmas tree. — Owen’s speech about how Harper taught him the importance of family time. — Chase Bryant surprise appearance to sing “Blue Christmas” at the party. — Owen telling Harper that he doesn’t want to lose her; Owen telling Harper that she doesn’t have to give up London for them — they can make it work. Rating, out of five crowns — 3/3.5 crowns. And most importantly: Christmas cookie pairing — Pecan Pie BarsSpecial Guests: Reggie Cardozo and Stephanie Cardozo.

1hr 17mins

3 Dec 2019

Rank #2

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Episode 3: Christmas Under The Stars

On this week’s ‘Hallmark for the Holidays,’ Michelle and Peter tear apart   “Christmas Under the Stars.”The story begins when Nick (Jesse Metcalfe), a career-focused investment banker, is fired from his high-powered firm at Christmastime. Nick then takes a job at a Christmas tree lot owned by a warmhearted widower. There, he meets Julie (Autumn Reeser), an astronomy teacher who always has her eyes in the stars. As the Christmas spirit washes over Nick — and he begins falling for Julie — the once self-centered Nick discovers the joy of helping others. First impressions — Since “Stars” features some of our favorite actors, we expected it to be a good film. — Unfortunately, the film starts slow and stays boring. So, what happens? — Nick values superficial things, certain he’s going to be made partner — instead he gets fired. — Clem the owner of Star Topper Tree Lot takes pity on Nick and offers him a job. — Nick first refuses, but then returns to accept the job. — Julie is a single mom mourning the loss of her dad’; she is best friends with Clem. Meet cute — Julie meets Nick at the tree lot when she and her son Matt go to visit Clem. This happens right after Clem offers Nick the job, but Nick declines. — After Nick starts working at the lot, Matt and Julie return to the lot — that’s when Nick and Julie start talking/flirting. What's the dilemma? Is it believable? — Julie is struggling with her dad’s medical debt. — Nick is struggling after losing his job. — Clem’s tree lot is closing after 30 years because the “big bad” developers are going to build condos where the tree lot stands. Christmas magic? — Town Christmas tree lighting — Nick goes with Julie and Matt. The two hold hands for the first time during the tree lighting (Nick initiates). — However, there really isn’t any “magic” other than the tree lot itself. Clem and his wife met on Christmas Eve at a tree lot, then started their own tree lot business. Julie’s mom and dad met on Christmas Eve at Clem’s Christmas tree lot and Nick and Julie met at the lot. Cringeworthy moments? — The whole movie is cringeworthy because it’s just SO BORING! — Julie needing Clem’s help to watch Matt after school because she’s going to be so busy planning the winter solstice star gazing field trip for her class — How busy can you be prepping that easy field trip?— Julie needing Mia’s mom (a student in her class) to help get a permit for stargazing in the park? Don’t parks already exist to stare at the sky and nature? It looked like our neighborhood park — nothing special. — Julie breaking off things with Nick because one of his investment banking clients was Femler Co. (the company that purchased her dad’s medical debt) and she can’t be with someone who helps evil-greedy-corporations-who-prey-on-people-make-more-money. — Julie getting Mia’s mom (who works at the City) to help Clem keep his Christmas tree lot — she convinced the Developer to make the lot a pocket park in order to get a tax break — Urine-colored Champagne — ugh — in the final scene when they finally kiss and sip Champagne under the stars — Nick ends up getting his dream job for an investment banking firm with a conscience and convinces them to buy the medical debt from Femler Co. and forgive it, so Julie can enjoy Christmas and stop worrying about money. Anything swoonworthy? — Nick gifting Julie and Matt a Christmas tree and helping them decorate and sing Christmas carols. — Nick setting up lots of Christmas trees in his condo to make up for all the Christmases he didn’t have one. — Julie asked Nick out for their first date. — Nick swiftly changes date plans to family pizza night and tree lighting when Matt reminds his mom that the town tree lighting is the same night she made dinner plans with Nick — Nick helps Clem when he falls and hurts his knee — has Clem stay at his house so he can take care of him and arranges for Julie to help him run the tree lot while Clem recovers. — Nick’s dad comes home for Christmas as a surprise and is proud of Nick for prioritizing something other than making money and for getting the Christmas spirit. (Nick’s “I don’t want to just make money, I want to make a difference.”) Quotable moment — “Everything works out at Christmas. All you’ve got to have is a little hope.” Final rating? — One out of 5 Crowns And most important: Christmas Cookie Pairing — Don’t waste your freshly baked cookies on this movie. Gingersnaps, fresh out of the box.


26 Nov 2019

Rank #3

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Episode 2: Nostalgic Christmas

On the latest “Hallmark for the Holidays,” Michelle (joined by Peter) offers a deep dive into a heartwarming “Nostalgic Christmas.” Plot — Anne Garrison (Brooke D’Orsay) takes her annual holiday visit to her Maine hometown. — The trip is somewhat bittersweet this year — Anne’s dad is set to sell his hand-carved wooden toy store and retire from a woodcarving career; the town’s lumber mill is up for sale. — It will probably be Anne’s last Christmas trip home. — Things get complicated when Anne is drafted and paired with handsome local widower Keith McClain (Trevor Donovan) to co-chair the town’s Christmas celebration, she begins to question what she really wants in life. — Soon, Anne is torn between returning to her fast-paced career in New York and staying in the small town to take over her dad’s business — as well as seeing where a burgeoning romance with Keith might lead. First impressions of “Nostalgic Christmas” — Finally – a Christmas movie that feels like Christmas. — Michelle and Peter like that there are two likable lead characters and love the plot points of planning three Christmas events. The action — Anne goes home to help her father sell his toy store and house, so he can move closer to his kids. — Keith is a single dad who manages the town mill, which is the main employer in the town. — The two end up accidentally chairing the town’s Christmas committee and with the help of a little Christmas spirit, they end up falling in love. What are our lead characters’ jobs? — Anne – A toy buyer for a major department store – selecting digital high-tech toys that are a far cry from the wood toys her dad makes and sells. — Keith – Manager of the lumber mill/lumberjack. Meet cute? — Keith’s daughter Jess remembers the school toy drive on her way to school. Upset that she forgot a toy, she begs her dad to take her to Garrison’s toys on the way to school so she can get a toy. — Anne and Mr. Garrison, who just closed the toy store, take pity on Keith and happily help them find a toy for Jess to donate. — Mr. Garrison gifts one of the hand-carved wood Santa’s Anne made as a child to Jess. — Keith accidentally insults Ann when he laments all of the high-tech toys most stores push at the holidays and wonders what type of person would select those toys for stores to push during the holidays. Is the dilemma believable? — The lumber mill is the main employer in town. The owner (Mrs. Wentzel) wants to sell the mill, so she can retire and move closer to her family now that her husband is dead. — The town is worried about the loss of jobs, casting a shadow over the Christmas celebrations. The town is having a hard time getting people excited about the holidays. — Keith is the manager of the mill, so if it closes, he’ll have to move to Vermont. — Mr. Garrison’s toy store may have a tough time selling if the mill closes. Key Christmas events — Ann and Keith both accidentally volunteer/pushed into chairing the town Christmas Committee. This means planning the Christmas Tree Lighting and Silent Auction, which supports the school’s music program. — They also organize the Christmas Pageant and Christmas Carnival. — The town’s 40-foot-tall artificial Christmas tree the town always uses missing, leaving Anne and Keith to find a replacement. The school music teacher has a family emergency and can’t direct the Christmas pageant — leaving a reluctant Anne to direct the pageant as well. Is there Christmas magic? You bet! — Garrison Toys give an “Anne’s Wood Santa” with a purchase. — “Super Santa” for Jess helps her find the courage to audition for the pageant. — “Good Neighbor Santa” for Martin (tree lot owner) – inspires him to donate enough trees to save the town tree lighting. — “Music Santa” – helps give Anne the courage to direct the town pageant. — And “Santa of Years Yet to Come” to Mrs. Wentzel. Swoonworthy moments? — The Christmas-y sets — the movie’s set decorating budget is definitely substantially greater than previous movies. — Lots of snow! — Anne, Keith and Jess decorate the Christmas tree together while singing Christmas carols. — Religious carols — keeping Christ in Christmas! — Plus, Christmas cookies and uplifting speeches about love and taking over the mill — there’s no greater gift than love here! Lead quotable moment — “Get over being over it.” The verdict? — 3.5 Crowns of a possible 4 Crowns And the most important thing: Christmas Cookie Pairing Paula Dean’s Snowflake Sugar Cookies – recipe available on Food Network.


22 Nov 2019

Rank #4

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Episode 1: Christmas Wishes and Mistletoe Kisses

In the premiere episode of “Hallmark for the Holidays” Michelle Schorsch — joined by her husband Peter — take a deep dive into the first movie in the 10th annual Countdown to Christmas series: “Christmas Wishes & Mistletoe Kisses.” Starring Jill Wagner, Matthew Davis, and Donna Mills, “Wishes” takes place weeks before Christmas, where Abbey — an interior designer/decorator and single mom — is hired to decorate the estate of businessman Nick for the holidays and Christmas party. During which, she must break down the wall between her and Nick, and struggle to keep the holiday spirit alive. But first, Michelle and Peter explain the inspiration for the podcast— as well as their 5-Crown rating system — before breaking down “Wishes,” including various moments that are cringeworthy, swoon-worthy and where Christmas magic comes alive.Then, as with every podcast, the duo passes a final verdict on the film with a rating. Did “Wishes” come true? Find out now!


6 Nov 2019

Rank #5