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Archive for the ‘Movies’ Category

On July 20 at San Diego Comic Con, actress Melissa Joan Hart (best known for her work on Sabrina, the Teenage Witch and the sitcom Melissa and Joey) and her producing partner (and mother) Paula Hart [among others] participated in a panel focusing on their upcoming new project from their Hartbreak Films production company: The Watcher in the Woods.

This new take on the book by Florence Engel Randall and the 1981 Disney film, which starred legendary actress Bette Davis, will air on Lifetime this Saturday, October 21.

In this new version Academy Award winner Anjelica Huston takes on the role of Mrs. Alywood, the distraught mother whose daughter, Karen, vanished in the English countryside 36 years ago. Jan Carstairs (relative newcomer Tallulah Evans) and her family move into the idyllic Alywood manor for the summer. Upon arriving in the small village of Northrop, the family is warned against entering the surrounding woods, but Jan and her little sister Ellie (newcomer Dixie Egerickx) hear voices coming from the forest. Strange occurrences begin to unnerve the family and Jan begins to suspect that they are linked to Karen’s disappearance. As Jan unravels the dark past hidden by the townspeople, she delves further into the mystery and deeper into danger, but now it might be too late to escape the Watcher in the Woods.

Melissa not only served as executive producer alongside her mother, but she also directed the film, which has been a passion project of hers for the past 20 years. In a special roundtable interview with the press, Melissa and her mother as well as writer Scott Abbott and associate producer Andrew Gernhard shared details about the reimaging of The Watcher in the Woods.

Here is an excerpt of that interview:

What inspired you to reimagine The Watcher in the Woods?

Melissa: I was obsessed with the 1981 movie. I watched it over and over again with my family. When we were doing Sabrina, (we were constantly) looking for projects to do when I was off from the show.

Paula: At the time, Melissa would have been perfect for the part of Jan.

Melissa: (Mom) tried getting the rights for 17 years and we finally got Disney to give us the rights to let us do it, but at this point I was too old to play Jan and too young to play Mrs. Alywood.

Paula: Melissa really wanted to play Mrs. Alywood (though)…

Melissa: Then I was going to play the mom, but I really (didn’t) want to have to act AND direct so we ended up finding a really wonderful woman (Melanie Gutteridge) to play the mom and I didn’t have to do it.

What are the things you most wanted to use in this reimagining?

Scott Abbott (Writer): The first thing I wanted to preserve was the story itself. It’s a gothic story; it’s really a ghost story. The biggest concerns I had were, “Who is the Watcher?” “What is the Watcher?” and “What does the Watcher want?” Another thing I wanted to observe was (the) tone. (I wanted) to tell a straight gothic story. I didn’t want it to be a tale full of blood. I wanted it to be a tale of suspense.

Melissa: I think one of the things that Scott did that was so great, he really preserved (the) family aspect. (He also made) the Watcher be his own character (and that is the one major difference (from the movie and the book). I think he did an amazing job streamlining the story and making it clear who the Watcher is, what it wants and what’s going on.

You’ve got Anjelica Houston and some talented newcomers playing the kids. Can you talk a little about the casting process?

Paula: When we work on projects like this we have wish lists: “Who do we want?” “What do we think?” On top of my wish list was Anjelica Houston. And she said yes, it was fairly simple. We have this fantastic script, (we) sent it off to her and she said “yeah, I’ll do it.”

Melissa: And I freaked out. And (then) I (got) to direct her. We did casting in London and even some of the day players are people from Downton Abbey and Doctor Who because we filmed in Cardiff. But we cast in London and they were an amazing cast. They were all so easy to work with. Everyone gave 110 percent.

Paula: Everybody auditioned…no matter how small the part was or how big the actor was, they all auditioned.

NOTE: It should be noted that actor Benedict Taylor, who played Mike Fleming in the 1981 movie, plays John Keller – the grown version of the teenager who was in love with long missing Karen – in this new version. It should also be noted that Huston was the only American actor, playing a character with a British accent, while many of the British actors in the cast were playing Americans.

What was your favorite part of this version?

Melissa: Everything. It was really fun. It’s been fabulous. It’s an actual dream of mine. This has been going on for almost 20 years for us. So this is something – to finally get it done. This is a dream come true.

Scott: I learned a lot about the process from working with Paula and Melissa.

Andrew Gernhard (Associate Producer): We did all the post-production. We loved every minute of it. From the rough cut to the color correction to the special effects. It was just cool to get to recreate the 1980’s to something that was new.

Here is a trailer for the movie:

The Watcher in the Woods will debut on Lifetime on Saturday, October 21 at 8/7c.

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The Hallmark Movies & Mysteries movie Darrow & Darrow will debut on October 22 at 9 PM.

Claire Darrow, a lawyer, fights for what’s right, regardless of whether it makes her a dime. Naomi, Claire’s estranged mother and a lawyer as well, would rather make a profit. They clash on nearly everything, even on the best way to raise Claire’s daughter, Louise.

The film stars Kimberly Williams-Paisley, Tom Cavanagh and Wendie Malick.

Here is a preview of Darrow & Darrow.

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On October 22, the Hallmark Channel series Good Witch will air a special two-hour Halloween special called Spellbound at 8 PM.

A long-forgotten prophecy is unearthed in the basement of city hall and – when the things that were predicted to happen actually start to come true – the people of Middleton begin to fear that this might be the year of a horrible curse that could change their lives forever.

And as Halloween night approaches, Cassie (series lead Catherine Bell) comes to realize that she and Sam (series lead James Denton) might be the key to ending the curse and saving their town.

Here is a trailer for Good Witch: Spellbound.

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On October 21, the Lifetime movie The Watcher in the Woods will debut at 8 PM.

Based on the 1980’s cult classic film, Anjelica Huston stars as Mrs. Aylwood, the distraught mother whose daughter, Karen, vanished in the English countryside over 20 years ago. When Jan Carstairs (relative newcomer Tallulah Evans) and her family move into the idyllic Aylwood manor for the summer, Mrs. Aylwood is taken aback by Jan’s striking resemblance to Karen.

The family is warned against entering the surrounding woods, but Jan and her little sister Ellie (relative newcomer Dixie Egerickx) hear voices coming from the forest. Strange occurrences begin to unnerve the family and Jan begins to suspect that they are linked to Karen’s disappearance. As Jan unravels the dark past hidden by the townspeople, she delves further into the mystery and deeper into danger, but now it might be too late to escape.

The movie is executive produced and directed by actress Melissa Joan Hart (Melissa & Joey and Sabrina, the Teenage Witch).

Here is a preview of The Watcher in the Woods.

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The made-for-TV Hallmark Channel movie A Harvest Wedding will debut on October 21 at 9 PM.

Sarah Bloom, an up and coming wedding planner in New York, is hired to plan the most anticipated wedding of the season. However, she learns the bride is from Sarah’s home town of Williamstown, Massachusetts, and wants her wedding on the family farm, which is now being run by the bride’s older brother – who is also Sarah’s first love.

The film Jill Wagner (Teen Wolf and the Hallmark Channel movie Autumn Dreams) and Victor Webster (Continuum and the Hallmark Channel movies Summer Villa and Love Blossoms).

Here is a trailer for A Harvest Wedding.

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The new movie Hailey Dean Mystery: Dating is Murder will debut on October 15 at 9 PM will debut on Hallmark Movies & Mysteries.

Attorney turned therapist Hailey Dean (Kellie Martin) is pulled into another investigation when a popular new dating app links multiple missing persons cases from around the city. Reuniting with her old team, Hailey discovers the potential dangers of online interaction, and must track down a killer before anyone else gets hurt.

Here is a trailer for Hailey Dean Mystery: Dating is Murder.

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The Hallmark Channel made-for-TV movie Love Struck Café will debut on October 14 at 9 PM.

Megan Quinn, an aspiring architect, faces multiple tasks – developing her hometown lake into a commercialized entertainment center, forcing Mrs. Frances Figgins, her childhood mentor, out of her family’s home, and helping out at her family café after her father breaks his leg, all while also dealing with the return of her childhood sweetheart, Joe, who broke her heart.

The film stars Sarah Jane Morris (Brothers and Sisters and NCIS) and Andrew Walker (the Hallmark Channel movies The Perfect Catch and A Bride for Christmas).

Here is a trailer for Love Struck Cafe.

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