Mistletoe and menorahs: 5 movies with suburban stars airing for the holidays
Halloween is barely over, yet Hallmark Channel's already a week into its annual Countdown to Christmas movie marathon.
Each year, Hallmark and a handful of other channels release a Santa's sleigh worth of holiday movies -- many following well-worn formulas with sure-to-see scenes of falling snow, twinkling lights and attractive couples caught beneath a perfectly placed sprig of mistletoe.
And as an added bonus, several feature local actors who got their start in the suburbs.
Here's a look at five holiday films with suburban stars premiering in the next few weeks:
"Holly & Ivy"
Starring: Marisol Nichols of Naperville
When to see it: 9 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 1, on Hallmark Movies & Mysteries
What we know: Hallmark's sister channel takes a more dramatic approach to its holiday fare, and this one stars Nichols as a mom facing a serious illness whose neighbor agrees to adopt her daughters and keep them together.
Former suburban resident Virginia Madsen stars in Netflix's "Operation Christmas Drop," streaming on Nov. 5.
- Courtesy of Netflix
"Operation Christmas Drop"
Starring: Virginia Madsen, a graduate of New Trier High School in Winnetka
When to see it: Begins streaming Friday, Nov. 5, on Netflix
What we know: A political aide (Kat Graham) looking to shutter an Air Force base with an important Christmas tradition falls for a pilot (Alexander Ludwig). Madsen plays a tough congresswoman.
"A Nashville Christmas Carol"
Starring: Former Buffalo Grove resident Jessy Schram
When to see it: 7 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 21, on Hallmark
What we know: Charles Dickens' holiday classic goes country with Schram starring as a television producer forced to work on a country music Christmas special with the guy who once broke her heart. And if that's not messy enough, she encounters Christmas spirits bent on revisiting her past.
Rivalry turns to romance in the Lifetime holiday movie "People Presents: Once Upon a Main Street," starring Vanessa Lachey and Ryan McPartlin.
- Courtesy of Lifetime
"People Presents: Once Upon a Main Street"
Starring: Ryan McPartlin, who grew up in Glen Ellyn
When to see it: 7 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 29, on Lifetime
What we know: McPartlin stars with Vanessa Lachey as rivals for a piece of storefront property. To sway the owner, they offer to chair a holiday decorating committee. Cue the competition -- and the inevitable chemistry.
"Love, Lights, Hanukkah"
Starring: "Boy Meets World" star and Highland Park native Ben Savage
When to see it: 7 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 20, on Hallmark
What we know: Hallmark dipped into Hanukkah movies last year, with mixed reviews. In this one -- released after Hanukkah actually ends -- a surprising DNA test sends a restaurant owner (played by Mia Kirshner) in search of her newly discovered Jewish roots. Then, of course, she finds romance.