Shouts & Scripts: The Christmas Prince(s)
Dear Netflix and Hallmark,
We need to talk. As I wrapped presents this year, with your many, many (many) Christmas movies playing in the background, I began to go into a numbed state of alternative existence. It was as if by osmosis I began to believe I too would render my entire career and life irrelevant, only to be “rescued” by a bland, uninteresting male character with a heart of gold. Or a big bank account. Or a royal status. Lucky for me I snapped out of it, and while I realize we all love some good holiday entertainment schmaltz with outlandish meet-cutes, hasty engagements and even occasionally an irrational wedding, I thought I would suggest some alternative scripts for next season because I just can’t deal with another dumbed down journalist-type or in one case, an inexplicable hunky ghost. Most of your films seem to be based on a “choose your own adventure” scheme using a variation of the same plot points:
A) She/He is: A single, lonely, but optimistic individual OR A hard-nosed, overworked professional desperate for a promotion OR A sweet do-gooder who knows deep inside they are engaged to the wrong person OR A big city type forced to spend the holiday in a small town due to some circumstance
B) She/He is: Available (or possibly engaged to the wrong person), attractive, has no hobbies/social life, secretly looking for love and is either a CEO/Royal/person-who-used-to-work-in-NYC-but-returned-home-to-help
C) Suddenly they: Bump into each other (literally) somewhere, looking impeccable OR are forced to work together and have a life-altering bonding moment over something minor OR Find themselves having inappropriate feelings for the person who is trying to takeover your town/favorite landmark/small business OR Are forced to identify their true self by pulling off several miracles so the dubious townspeople will listen to their wisdom (P.S. One or all of these scenarios will be supported by a lecture from a wise Aunt or elderly town folk somewhere along the way about ‘searching your heart’ or ‘finding your true self’ or the ‘holiday spirit’)
D) The Result: Falling unexpectedly in love OR Falling unexpectedly in love and saving your town/favorite landmark/small business OR Falling unexpectedly in love and recapturing the Christmas spirit that vanished after your parents/guardian were tragically taken away when you were a child OR you just get engaged after knowing someone for a week
Now, given my degree in English Literature (Austen + Bronte novels galore), an affinity for romantic comedies (guilty), and my slightly skeptical tendencies (New Yorker), I can offer a wide range of new possibilities. Let’s get to it and mix impossible romance with current cultural realities, shall we?
1.The Christmas Queen. The fact that one of the most interesting characters is missed in all of these millennial-age prince/princess films. Notice the Queen is always widowed or alone? She’s far more interesting, let’s do something about that. Cast a dashing Pierce Brosnan as the romantic interest. After all, they have all the money and wisdom at that age, and pass on the responsibilities apparently. Clearly ‘Grace & Frankie’ is a winner, so let’s hit that age demographic!
2. The Media Holiday. It’s Christmas time and all of the White House correspondent journalists are trapped covering the current chaos. This is perfect, because they will be actual sassy, smart journalist types tangled in Aaron-Sorkin like dialogue with mounting sexual tension. And you can still have a big city ivy-league type and a small-town-made-it-on-gumption type.
3. Home Alone (reboot). No need to rename a reality for far too many people. Cut to an overpriced charming neighborhood in NYC or London, where two over-worked execs and co-op building neighbors fall in love over binge-watching movies, eating takeout, and defending themselves from would-be robbers. This would seem in reach for more people… (see ‘Friends’)
4. Love Maybe. Ok, so I’ll let you have your formulaic holiday meet-cute scenario. But after the holiday….no one stays together because it makes no damn sense. It could all end in a rousing sing-along (an original song by Lin-Manuel Miranda obviously) on split screens where everyone returns home to their lives and gets progressively happy about it.
5. It’s A Complicated Life. This could work with a Christmas miracle after a horrendous 2017. I see a slow run through the snow with some killer music at the end a-la-Chris Martin in “Fix you”.
6. Ghosts of ex-boyfriends past. Too easy, and too relatable. Maybe the message in the end is that she made all the right choices in trusting her gut and walking her own damn path to success. The end is her handing out gifts to all of the children attending a party she is hosting at the house she bought.
7. How To Marry A Millionaire: Holiday edition. This one has the potential to pull out all of the stops. A crew of roommates (male, female, gay, straight) decide f**k it, they are tired and ready to sell their souls to marry rich. They lay a number of traps too see what they can get over the holiday season in NYC. Shallow & problematic? Certainly. But you know in the end, they will all fall in love, under the City lights and tumbling snow, for the right reasons (hopefully).
8. Miracle on Hollywood Blvd. Forget 34th street, let’s talk movie industry business. You could cast heroines Ashley Judd and Miro Sirvino as Hollywood executives who take down a sexist mogul in time for Christmas…oh wait. Ava Duvernay can direct, Shonda Rhimes can write it, Beyonce soundtrack is a must.
9. A Meghan Markle Christmas. No explanation needed. I would watch this, wouldn’t you?
10. How The President Stole Christmas. I mean, we’ll see what happens next year, but this has ‘potential’ written all over it. But redemption…unlikely. Unless you write in a Claire Underwood type who saves the day, the country, the world. It could literally be a “Die Hard” situation, that’s a win all around. Happy Holidays!
And there you have it. Plenty of new script material to begin shooting in random Canadian locations for 2018. Have your people call my people.
P.S. Writers: Hallmark is actually look for romance and mystery novel writers. Get to it here.