If Hallmark Channel’s holiday movies come across like two-hour, live-action Christmas cards, then that is likely the point.
They are “on brand,” you might say -- due to the fact that the channel and two others, Hallmark Movies & Mysteries and Hallmark Drama, are owned by a giant greeting card company, Hallmark Cards Inc.
The company is associated primarily with greeting cards, but in its retail stores, the cards are only part of the picture.
Gift wrap, holiday tchotchkes and decorations are all a part of Hallmark, so it is not at all surprising that the Hallmark Christmas movies come laden not only with seasonal cheer, romance and happy endings but also with plenty of tinsel and other decorative bric-a-brac.
And now, Hallmark's Christmas movie tradition has taken up residence smack in the middle of that great Christmas vacation destination, midtown Manhattan -- specifically, the northern end of it at New York's famed Plaza Hotel.
Yes, Hallmark movie fans, it is time for “Christmas At the Plaza,” filmed at least partly at the Plaza and premiering Thanksgiving night.
It is that time of year again, when Manhattanites and other New York City residents do all they can to avoid venturing to the Fifth and Sixth Avenue corridor stretching roughly from 42nd Street to Central Park.
Welcome, ye crowds of visitors. We implore you to stroll around looking skyward at the tall buildings and ooh-ing and ah-ing at the Rockefeller Center tree and all of the other Christmas displays lining the sidewalks and hanging on the fronts of buildings.
And be sure to take in the Christmas show featuring the Rockettes at Radio City Music Hall. Watching them do their famous “toy soldier” routine, in which they “fall” backwards like dominos, has been known to be life-changing for some of those who have seen it.
Don't miss the Plaza either. After watching this new Hallmark movie -- at a special screening at that very hotel hosted by Hallmark last week -- I am convinced that the Plaza deserves special consideration when it comes to Christmas in New York, right up there with the aroma of roasting chestnuts and the sounds of Salvation Army Santas ringing their bells.
This Hallmark movie “Christmas At the Plaza” drives the point home. In the movie, a young woman historian named Jessica is hired by the Plaza to research the history of Christmas celebrations at the Plaza going back 100 years and then curate an exhibition of the hotel's holiday artifacts.
While working there, she meets Nick, a macho, handsome handyman who also happens to be a professional Christmas decorator hired by the hotel to install this year's Christmas trees and Christmas trimmings in the lobbies and other public spaces (an example of which is seen in the photo above).
Will love bloom between this historian and rugged decorator just in time for Christmas? Chances are, if you have ever seen a Hallmark movie, you can guess the answer to that. But that's not really the point.
Along the way to this possible outcome, much happens -- and almost all of it takes place in the midst of holiday decorations and fresh snow (probably fake snow, since this movie was filmed during the summer).
At the Hallmark screening last week, preceded by a reception at the Plaza's historic Oak Room Bar, our hosts were Bill Abbott, president and CEO of Hallmark Channel parent Crown Media Family Networks, and Michelle Vicary, executive vice president of programming at Hallmark.
Also in attendance: The movie's dapper writer and director, Ron Oliver, along with the movie’s leading man and woman (Ryan Paevey and Elizabeth Henstridge, pictured above), and cast members Julia Duffy (as the woman who hired Jessica), Bruce Davison (as the hotel's long-running head bellman) and Nelson Wong (playing the hotel's exuberant concierge).
And if you cannot make it to the Plaza this holiday season, then let this movie serve as the next best thing.
“Christmas At the Plaza” airs Thursday night (Thanksgiving) at 8 Eastern on Hallmark Channel.