Candy Coated Christmas
Molly Gallant was counting on seed money from her father to help launch an exciting new venture with her best friend. However, just as she and her dad are supposed to be jetting off to Hawaii for their annual Christmas trip, Molly learns that the family business is facing bankruptcy. The only way to recoup the funds she needs is to sell her late mother’s childhood home in the town of Peppermint Hollow, Washington: the “Peppermint Capital of the World.” Molly fully intends to get the house on the market and get out of the cold to sunny Hawaii by Christmas, but then she meets the current renters, Noah Winters and his family, who warmly welcome her into their home, sharing their holiday traditions with her. It begins to seem as if fate, and the weather, are conspiring to keep Molly in Peppermint Hollow, even as she begins to appreciate the value of family. And she and Noah may discover a new way to make a mint…together.
Molly Gallant lives in Beverly Hills, spends Christmases in Hawaii, and wears designer clothes. But her carefully planned life takes an unexpected turn when she takes a business trip to the picturesque town of Peppermint Hollow.
A marketing executive for her father’s resort company, Molly was counting on seed money from her dad, Fred, to help launch an exciting new venture with her best friend, Gracie. However, just as she and her dad are supposed to be jetting off to Hawaii for their annual Christmas trip, Molly learns she is the last to know that Gallant Resorts is facing bankruptcy. The only way to recoup the funds she needs is to sell her late mother’s childhood home in the community of Peppermint Hollow, Washington: the “Peppermint Capital of the World.”
Arriving in the quaint town, Molly is immediately struck by the cold, the elaborate Christmas decorations everywhere, the taste of mint in every possible confection…and a handsome stranger named Noah Winters, who saves her from an errant snowball, almost knocking her over in the process. As it turns out, Noah is also the one renting her mother’s house, together with his mom Kim, and niece, Dakota, but his own business as an innovative mint farmer, has fallen on hard times.
Molly fully intends to get the house on the market and get out of the cold to sunny Hawaii by Christmas, but when Noah’s family warmly welcomes her into their home, sharing their holiday traditions with her, she realizes that evicting them will be harder than she imagined. It begins to seem as if fate, and the weather, are conspiring to keep Molly in Peppermint Hollow, even as she begins to appreciate the value of family. And she and Noah may discover a new way to make a mint…together.
“Candy Coated Christmas” marks the first scripted feature by Food Network, to be served up on Discovery+. Slated to premiere November 19, 2021, the original movie stars Molly McCook (“Last Man Standing,” “Good Trouble”) as Molly Gallant; Aaron O’Connell (“The Haves and the Have Nots”) as Noah Winters; John McCook (“The Bold and the Beautiful”), Molly McCook’s real-life father, as Fred Gallant; Lee Garlington (“Broken”) as Kim Winters; newcomer Landry Townsend as Dakota Winters; Jae Suh Park (“The Big Short”) as Gracie; Lonzo Liggins as Patrick; Dia Frampton as Chloe; and Ree Drummond, the host of Food Network’s “The Pioneer Woman,” in her acting debut as the local bakery owner, Bee.
The movie was directed by Ellie Kanner (“Love and Sunshine”) from a script by Alex Yonks and Kanner & Joey Plager, and is produced by MarVista Entertainment in association with Go Films.
About the Production
The holidays are a festive time for family, friends, fun and, of course, food, so blending Food Network with a Christmas movie seems the perfect recipe for the season. “Candy Coated Christmas” also brings something new to the table—becoming Food Network’s inaugural foray into scripted projects which will be presented on Discovery+.
“It is a very exciting time for Food Network to be dipping their toe into holiday movies, and I’m thrilled to have been involved in the first one,” states Ellie Kanner, who co-wrote and directed the movie, also serving as an executive producer.
The idea for “Candy Coated Christmas” originated with Kanner’s partner, Joey Plager, an executive producer and co-writer of the film. While the two had previously worked together on several projects, Plager relates, “This was the first project that we sat down and wrote from scratch. I’m a big fan of Food Network; I watch it because I love to eat,” he smiles. “Food is a big part of how people come together, especially at the holidays, so to be able to celebrate that … is a special feeling.”
Working from separate locations during the lockdown, Kanner and Plager developed the script, teaming with co-screenwriter Alex Yonks. “It was a wonderful collaboration,” Kanner recalls. “We all brought different things to the script and built on each other’s ideas and jokes, and it made for a really fun experience for all of us.”
Yonks adds, “Working with Ellie and Joey was an incredible experience, we had so much fun writing the script. We actually wrote it all via Zoom and on the phone. It was a pinch-me moment when we finally met on the set,” says the writer. “It’s heartfelt, sweet and a little romantic, and anyone can watch it—families, kids, adults…I think we need more of that.”
The story opens in a posh Beverly Hills mansion, where Molly Gallant is finishing packing for her annual Christmas vacation in Hawaii, unaware that her life is about to be upended by the recent downturn of her father’s resort chain. The loss for Molly is twofold: threatening her job as the company’s Head of Marketing and jeopardizing plans for the startup of her new line of organic baby products, in partnership with her best friend.
Starring in the central role, Molly McCook offers, “Molly’s adventure basically begins with her father telling her the awful news that she’s essentially broke, which is devastating to her. Molly is a little bit spoiled,” McCook acknowledges. “Her family has always had wealth, then all of a sudden that gets taken away from her. Now she’s put into a situation where she has to try and figure out how to make money.”
Her father, however, might have a solution to Molly’s immediate financial problems: reminding his daughter about the house where her mother grew up, in the town of Peppermint Hollow. Since her mother’s passing, Molly’s name has been on the deed, so all she has to do is go and sell the house. “Instead of being on her way to Hawaii,” McCook notes, “she ends up in this small town, which is a different scenario from what she’s used to and very out of her comfort zone.”
Molly’s plan of action is to get in, sell the property and be in the Aloha State in time for Christmas. But what starts out as just a business transaction becomes all too personal when she meets and gets to know the family renting the house. “I always think that makes the best movie—where there’s a plan and it goes south,” says McCook. “I love that Molly has a true arc in this movie; it’s an important journey that she needs to take, to remember where her mom was from and what family means to her. She discovers what matters to her…what really, really matters.”
Arriving in Peppermint Hollow, Molly has what McCook teasingly calls “a kind of rom-com meet-cute with this very cute guy. But she is there on a mission.”
As it turns out, that cute guy is Noah Winters and he and his family are living in the house she’s planning to sell. Cast in the role, Aaron O’Connell remarks, “Noah has cultivated this beautiful mint farm that he’s invested everything in, but lately it’s just not going well. He’s supporting his niece, Dakota, trying to be a good role model for her, and he’s also taking care of his mother. He is always wanting to do what’s best for his family, so he’s been trying to make ends meet and keep everything together.”
When Molly shows up, Noah assumes it’s because they’ve fallen behind on the rent. “Right off the bat,” O’Connell continues, “she doesn’t tell them the real reason she’s there, but over time, Noah figures out she’s about to take not only their home but also their whole livelihood right out from underneath them. He’s not too happy about it, so that’s a time when Noah and Molly butt heads.”
Molly and Noah had been on diverging paths, but when those paths finally intersect, it changes both their lives. “Molly comes in and turns Noah’s world upside down,” O’Connell attests. And as friction turns to friendship…and possibly something more, they realize “if they can work together, the sky’s the limit.”
Not unlike their characters, McCook and O’Connell found working together a pleasure. “We had the best time,” McCook affirms. “It’s always interesting having to play off of someone and do emotional relationship scenes—it challenges you as an actor because, normally, they are a complete stranger. But being on location helps you bond and Aaron and I had a really good rhythm going. It was a blast.”
O’Connell adds, “To be able to share those scenes with Molly was an absolute joy for me. She is one of the sweetest, smartest and most generous people I know, and funny, too. We were always making each other laugh.”
Kanner had high praise for both of her romantic leads. “Molly and Aaron are incredible actors who had great chemistry and were a dream to work with. They are so talented and always went above and beyond to deliver what we needed.”
The admiration is mutual. “Ellie was absolutely phenomenal,” O’Connell states. “She was never without a smile and made everybody feel comfortable on set. As an actor, I wasn’t sure how rigid we’d have to be with the dialogue—if there was room to play—but she was so open to the actors’ creative input, which was great.”
“Working with Ellie was wonderful,” McCook concurs, adding another facet to her appreciation for the director. “I think it’s really important for women to be working with women and empowering each other. Honestly, it was super inspiring to watch such an intelligent and artistic woman take control. It just felt that much more exciting to take direction from her.”
Kanner takes a similar view, noting, “I’m so grateful for the opportunities that a lot of women are having, and I truly feel that new doors are opening for women, myself included. It’s fun working with women. I love working with guys, too, don’t get me wrong, but it’s a different perspective. I think that’s one of the reasons why it also worked so well between me and Alex Yonks. Joey had his perspective, but Alex and I definitely had ours.”
The two most influential women in Noah Winters life have been his mother, Kim, played by Lee Garlington, and his niece, Dakota, played by Landry Townsend. “The biggest role Dakota plays in the film is that she is the first one who bonds with Molly and that helps bring them all together,” says Townsend. “I relate to that because I am totally like that third wheel, standing off to the side when people are making a connection. I do that with my friends all the time, so I very much related to the fact that Dakota is trying to get Molly and Noah together.”
Garlington describes Kim as “the matriarch of the family. She had a son who died when her granddaughter was a baby, so she and her other son are raising Dakota. That’s her purpose. She loves her family and is very content with her life and her home, which was the home of her very best childhood friend, Sarah, who was Molly’s mother. Kim has a strong nature, with a lot of resilience and humor, and they allowed me to add some of my own humor, which helped me identify even more with her.
“I was delighted to be in this film,” the actress continues. “I am a Christmas geek—I have 16 Christmas sweaters of my own and brought five of them with me—so I am one of those people,” she laughs. “I think this is exactly what a Christmas movie is supposed to be; I love the values and the message conveyed in the story.”
Her sentiment is shared by a cast member who will be a familiar face to fans of Food Network. Ree Drummond, the popular host of “The Pioneer Woman,” joins the cast as Bee, the local coffee shop and bakery owner in Peppermint Hollow. She wonders, “Who doesn’t love a Christmas movie? They are woven into the fabric of television these days. I am so happy that my home network is stepping into the holiday movie realm and incredibly honored that they asked me to play Bee.”
Making her acting debut, Drummond admits, “I’m not sure why, but I was a little intimidated before I met the actors, but they were so generous, so welcoming and encouraging, and that immediately set the stage for the vibe of the set. And Ellie has a presence that immediately puts people at ease. She is a powerhouse—small but mighty—and I felt very safe in her hands.”
Per O’Connell, Drummond needn’t have had any concerns about being an acting novice. He remarks, “Ree was an absolute pro right from the start; she totally blew us away. I can’t wait for people to see her in this.”
Drummond also felt right at home playing someone who owns a small-town bakery and coffee shop. “I own a bakery and restaurant in my small town,” she explains, “so I was able to use my personality and mannerisms to inform my character, and I think that’s what the director had in mind.”
In another case of art imitating life, Molly McCook’s real-life father, John McCook, was cast as her character’s onscreen father, Fred Gallant. “This is the first time we’ve ever had the opportunity to act together, and it was a lot of fun,” John McCook states. “It’s a wonderful movie with a lovely story that’s funny and very romantic, but the joy of it for me was working with Molly.”
Molly McCook agrees. “Working with my dad was truly a dream come true. Playing father and daughter was obviously very easy for us, but it was also very special. My dad and I have always had a very special bond, and now we’ve had the experience of acting together. I think it will be fun watching the movie together around the holidays.”
The potential collapse of Fred Gallant’s resort empire is having a domino effect that not only impacts his daughter but also her best friend, Gracie, because it jeopardizes Molly’s investment in their organic baby products startup. “Gracie is a truly supportive friend,” says Jae Suh Park, who plays Gracie. “Molly and I hit it off right away. I felt like I’d known her for a really long time, which was special because our characters are supposed to be best friends. It’s great to work with someone who’s not only a good actor but a really nice person.”
Rounding out the main cast, Dia Frampton plays Chloe, Noah’s high school sweetheart, who still carries something of a torch for him and is immediately jealous of Molly; and Lorenzo Liggins was cast as Patrick, the local realtor whom Molly consults about selling the house.
“Candy Coated Christmas” was filmed entirely on location in Utah, which is typically pretty cold in December. In keeping with the season, the costume department, led by costume designer Camile Morris, dressed the cast in warm winter clothing. However, they were actually filming in the middle of a sweltering summer heatwave, which was a bit of a challenge for the actors.
“When it’s 95 degrees out and you’re wearing four layers, then you think, ‘Okay, it’s going to be a little toasty,’” O’Connell quips.
As noted in the movie, Peppermint Hollow takes Christmas very seriously, so production designer Starla Christian and her team went all out, turning the location set into a winter wonderland, complete with snow, and bedecking both the interiors and exteriors with elaborate Christmas decorations.
Kanner remarks, “It was easy to get into the holiday spirit because we had Christmas decorations, and Christmas trees and beautiful lights all around us. I forgot I was in Utah in the middle of summer.”
Of course, an abundance of food is essential to any traditional Christmas, never more so than for the Food Network’s first movie. Ree Drummond says the set did not disappoint. “Bee’s bakery was all decked out for Christmas. The shelves were full of holiday treats, and I just thought it looked absolutely magical.”
“All of the Christmas cookies and the candy canes and all the decorations… It just felt cozy,” adds O’Connell. “I think when people sit down and watch this, they’ll feel right at home.”
McCook reflects, “I believe that the audience will really relate to the message of the importance of family and of just being home and celebrating together.”
“I hope that the audience finds it heartwarming and funny and romantic. And they will definitely learn a lot about mint,” Kanner concludes with a smile.
Molly McCook (Molly Gallant)
MOLLY McCOOK (Molly Gallant) was born into a show business family, and always knew she wanted to follow in the footsteps of her father, John McCook and mother, Laurette Spang. Her natural instinct for performance has now blossomed into a professional career in Film, Television and Theater.
McCook most recently starred as Mandy Baxter in the long-running family sitcom “Last Man Standing,” taking over the role in the show’s seventh season and winning over fans. Her additional television credits include recurring and guest star roles on “Good Trouble,” “His Wives and Daughters,” “The Ranch,” “Modern Family,” “Murder in the First,” “Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.” and “Glee,” on which she performed “Day Dream Believer” with Neil Patrick Harris.
Her film credits include the 2017 movie “The Landlord,” as well as “Excision” (2012) and “Trash Fire” (2016), which both premiered at the Sundance Film Festival.
On the stage, McCook starred in “Cruel Intentions: The Musical,” originating the role of Annette Hargrove. A highlight of the musical’s four-month sold-out run in Los Angeles was the “best girls’ night of the year” when the film’s stars Reese Witherspoon, Sarah Michelle Gellar, and Selma Blair reunited in the audience. News of the “Cruel Intentions” reunion was instantly trending on the Internet and led to a cast appearance on “Entertainment Tonight,” where McCook performed “Torn,” one of the show-stopping songs from the musical.
Aaron O’Connell (Noah Winters)
AARON O’CONNELL (Noah Winters) was born in Dayton, Ohio, the only son amongst three sisters, Amy, Abby and Anna. While studying Health, Fitness, and Nutrition at Purdue University, he signed with Ford Models in Chicago, Illinois. Success quickly followed, leading him to move to New York City, where he worked with GQ, Vanity Fair, Carolina Herrera, German Vogue, French Vogue, Hanes, Lucky Brand Jeans, Abercrombie & Fitch, and Jockey.
After booking several successful national commercials, he caught the eye of writer/ producer/director Tyler Perry and was soon cast in Perry’s first ever television drama, “The Haves and The Have Nots.” O’Connell garnered much attention for his work in the role of Wyatt Cryer, and went on to appear in more than 150 episodes of the series.
In addition, he has been seen in episodes of “NCIS” and “Lethal Weapon,” and had his first film role in “A Prince for Christmas,” starring alongside Viva Bianca. O’Connell made his big-screen debut in the action thriller “Black Water,” opposite Jean-Claude Van Damme and Dolph Lundgren. His other credits include “12 Gifts of Christmas,” “My Christmas Love,” “Runnin’ from My Roots,” and the upcoming “Blending Christmas” and “Love Accidentally.”
In his free time, O’Connell loves to fly. In 2013, he earned his private pilot’s license and became an instrument-rated pilot the following year. While he enjoys flying his Cirrus SR22 recreationally, he also flies for the charity Pilots ’N Paws, transporting dogs from kill shelters to their loving new families. He currently resides in Los Angeles, where he continues to work on his craft.
Lee Garlington (Kim Winters)
LEE GARLINGTON (Kim Winters) recently won a Best Actress Award from the Independent Series Awards for “Before We Go,” a short form series she also executive produced. She was also nominated for an Emmy Award for her role in the series “Broken.”
Garlington has also appeared in more than 60 films, including “Sum of All Fears,” “Sneakers,” “Field of Dreams,” “Cobra,” “The Babysitter,” Lovely & Amazing,” “One Hour Photo,” and, most recently, “The Little Things,” with Denzel Washington and Rami Malek.
She had recurring roles in the series “The West Wing,” “Everwood,” “Mistresses,” “The Bridge” and “The Killing,” in addition to guest starring in more than 100 other series.
Garlington’s current passion is live theatre, having recently starred in three plays back-to-back at the Ruskin Theatre, including playing Linda Lohman opposite Rob Morrow in “Death of a Salesman.”
Landry Townsend (Dakota Winters)
LANDRY TOWNSEND (Dakota Winters) was born in Arlington, Texas and is of Chinese, Japanese, English and Italian descent. At six months old, she began print modeling and at age six she booked her first commercial, which started her love for acting. Shortly thereafter she began studying with Cathryn Hartt and Cathryn Sullivan in Dallas, Texas, and began booking lead roles in independent short films in 2017.
In 2019, she landed her first television role, in “Heart of Life,” a pilot in which she played the daughter of Tate Donovan and Ming-Na Wen. In addition to “Candy Coated Christmas,” Townsend recently filmed a two-part series entitled “Sister Swap: A Hometown Holiday” and “Sister Swap: Christmas in the City,” starring Kimberly Williams-Paisley and Ashley Williams.
John McCOOK (Fred Gallant)
JOHN McCOOK (Fred Gallant) portrays Eric Forrester, the family patriarch and head of the haute couture fashion dynasty Forrester Creations on the hit daytime drama “The Bold and the Beautiful.” He has starred in this role since the show’s premiere in 1987. The most-watched U.S.-produced daytime drama series in the world, “The Bold and the Beautiful” is currently in its 33rd season.
Discovered by legendary movie mogul Jack Warner while appearing as Tony in the New York City Center revival of “West Side Story,” McCook was one of the last actors formed by the Hollywood studio system and talent development program. He was later signed by Universal Studios as a contract player before being drafted by the U.S. Army for a two-year stint.
His career highlights include the national tour of “Barefoot in the Park,” with Virginia Mayo, and the Los Angeles and Las Vegas productions of “Mame,” opposite movie and stage legend Ann Miller. Later cast as the passionate Lance Prentiss on the then-brand-new daytime drama “The Young and the Restless,” McCook’s potent interpretation of the role catapulted him to national prominence.
He alternated his television work with frequent returns to the musical theatre, starring in “Oklahoma!,” “The Pirates of Penzance,” “They’re Playing Our Song,” “Seven Brides for Seven Brothers,” “Fiddler on The Roof” and “Peter Pan.” For Long Beach Civic Light Opera, McCook starred in “Man of La Mancha”; “42nd Street”; opposite Carol Burnett in “From the Top”; and the Stephen Sondheim revue “Putting It Together” at the Mark Taper Forum.
Among his numerous primetime television appearances are “Codename: Foxfire,” “L.A. Law,” “Murder, She Wrote,” “Moonlighting,” “Newhart,” “WKRP in Cincinnati,” “Amazing Stories,” “Too Close for Comfort,” “Alice” and “Three’s Company,” to name only a portion.
McCook’s compact disc of romantic love songs, titled John McCook Sings Bold & Beautiful Love Songs, for Arcade Records, reached the Top 20 in most leading European record markets.
California born and raised, McCook attended Long Beach State University long enough to appear in a production of “Tea and Sympathy” and land a job at Disneyland. He made his professional debut at the San Diego Circle Arts Theatre, and then appeared at Melodyland in “Guys and Dolls,” with Hugh O’Brian and Betty Grable; “Firefly,” with Anna Maria Alberghetti; and “Flower Drum Song,” with Pat Suzuki.
McCook is married to actress Laurette Spang. He has four children, Seth, Jake, Becky and Molly, and five grandchildren.
Ree Drummond (Bee)
REE DRUMMOND (Bee) is a writer, photographer, ranch wife and mother of four. Her blog, ThePioneerWoman.com, showcases her cooking, photography and anecdotes about country living, and attracts more than 20 million page views per month and has earned several Weblog of the Year awards as well as Bloggie Awards.
In addition, Drummond is a #1 New York Times best-selling author of ten books, including six cookbooks. She is the host of Food Network’s hit daytime show “The Pioneer Woman” and also launched a lifestyle magazine with the same title at the end of 2017. She is also co-host of Food Network’s holiday series “Christmas Cookie Challenge.”
Drummond is the owner of The Mercantile, a general store, restaurant and bakery in her hometown of Pawhuska, Oklahoma.
Jae Suh Park (Gracie)
JAE SUH PARK (Gracie) recently recurred on the series “Never Have I Ever,” opposite Mindy Kaling. Park is best known for her role as Marianne in the hit series “Friends from College,” opposite Keegan-Michael Key, Nat Faxon and Cobie Smulders. Park also recurred on “The Mindy Project.” On the feature side, she had supporting roles in “The Meddler” and “The Big Short.”
Lonzo Liggins (Patrick)
LONZO LIGGINS (Patrick) was raised in Utah and has been active in the Theatre, Film and Television industry for 20 years. He has appeared in “High School Musical the Series,” “Andi Mack,” “Yellowstone” and “Mosaic,” and is set to host an upcoming series he wrote and produced called “Roots, Race & Culture.”
Dia Frampton (Chloe)
DIA FRAMPTON (Chloe) is a singer-songwriter and actress from Utah. After coming off of “The Voice” as Blake Shelton’s finalist, she began her acting career. She recently voiced Ishikawa in the popular TV show, “Yasuke,” guest starred on “The Rookie” and recurred in the popular production of “Strangers Never Again.” When she’s not acting, she is writing music in her band, “Meg & Dia” or for popular TV shows (“Pretty Little Liars,” “The Bold Type,” “Insurgent,” and “Good Behavior”). Her Christmas album, “December, Darling” can be found on Spotify and Apple music.
Ellie Kanner (Director/Screenwriter/Executive Producer)
ELLIE KANNER (Director/Screenwriter/Executive Producer) has worked in the entertainment industry as a talent agent, casting director, producer, writer and director. She has applied her talents over a span of genres, including romantic comedy, comedic thriller, mockumentary, drama and action.
Most recently, Kanner directed the television movies “Love and Sunshine” and “Love on the Menu” and executive produced “Love, Lights, Hanukkah!” She is currently developing several features based on novels, in addition to TV movies and series.
Kanner previously directed episodes of such series as “Boston Legal,” “Wildfire” and “Greek.” She directed the short form series “Dropping the Soap,” for which Jane Lynch won an Emmy. She has also directed a number of indie films, including “Crazylove,” “Authors Anonymous,” “Wake” and “For the Love of Money,” all of which received worldwide distribution.
In addition, Kanner cast more than 30 pilots, including “Friends” and “Sex and the City.”
Joey Plager (Screenwriter/Executive Producer)
JOEY PLAGER (Screenwriter/Executive Producer) is an entertainment executive and producer with more than 30 years of experience working with and for major international studios and networks. His insight into the perspectives of both buyer and seller, as well as a depth of knowledge in domestic and international content creation and distribution, make him the rare media player who can identify and connect opportunities in both traditional and emerging marketplaces.
Plager founded Shalom Amigo Productions in 2013 to create content across multiple platforms. Shortly thereafter, he executive produced “Remember Sunday” and “The Memory Book.” In 2015, he created Kaufman Plager Productions and then Just To Be Clear Productions in 2020. Through these three companies, he has produced 14 films while actively packaging intellectual property with talent and optioning and developing books and formats for feature films and television series.
Prior to Shalom Amigo, as SVP Co-Productions for eOne, Plager identified international co-production and pre-sale opportunities and acquired third-party producer product. He performed a similar role previously as SVP Co-Productions for Hearst Entertainment. Between Hearst and eOne, as VP Original Movies at Lifetime, Plager ran the division, overseeing the low-budget “pre-buy” telefilms. In addition to shepherding 150 movies onto air while elevating production values and diversifying creative auspices, successes included groundbreaking co-production and distribution deals with Starz and France’s TF1 International.
Plager’s transition from the creative to business side came as VP Program Enterprises and Distribution at Showtime Networks. There, he secured domestic and international financing partners for prospective movies and series and oversaw the licensing of completed programs in the U.S. and Canada. Drawing on deep relationships within the entertainment community, he also served as the creative executive responsible for the Emmy- and Peabody Award-winning “Bang Bang You’re Dead,” as well as “Sister Mary Explains It All,” starring Diane Keaton.
Before joining Showtime, Plager held executive positions at studios and independent production companies, concentrating primarily on movies for network and cable. His most notable credits were as executive producer of multiple Wonderful World of Disney films and “Frequent Flyer,” ABC’s highest-rated movie of the ’95-’96 season. He also produced the critically acclaimed “Shame” franchise and received an Imagen Award for Best Primetime Program for “Little Girl Lost.” Earlier, he pioneered the “Moment of Truth” series of movies.
A graduate of Princeton University (B.A. History), Plager began his career in feature films as a story analyst at CAA before segueing to Imagine Films as Story Editor.
Alex Yonks (Screenwriter)
ALEX YONKS (Screenwriter) is a writer who is passionate about young adult content. She has several youth-oriented projects in development, including the YA novel 11 Before 12, written by Lisa Greenwald and Published by HarperCollins.
Previously, she worked on “The Big Bang Theory,” on which she earned two “story by” credits, and its spin-off, “Young Sheldon.”
She loves working in the family space and utilizing every opportunity to craft grounded, relatable, and uplifting stories for kids and teens. Her short film “A Taylor Story,” which she wrote and directed at Chapman University, won the College Television Emmy Award in Children’s Programming in 2017. Another short she wrote and directed was a finalist for the DGA student film awards.
MarVista Entertainment Presents
In Association with Just To Be Clear Productions
A GO FILMS Production
- Molly McCook
- Aaron O’Connell
- Landry Townsend
- John McCook
- Dia Frampton
- Lonzo Liggins
- Introducing Ree Drummond
- with Jae Suh Park
- and Lee Garlington
- Dori Zuckerman
- Camile Morris
- Lawrence Shragge
- Dani Fogarty
- Ash Thompson
- Starla Christian
Director of Photography
- TC Christensen
- Suzanne Todd
- Sheri Singer
- Courtney White
- Kathleen Finch
- Larry Grimaldi
- Hannah Pillemer
- Fernando Szew
- Joey Plager
- Ellie Kanner
- Adam Abel & Ryan Little
- Alex Yonks
- and Ellie Kanner & Joey Plager
- Ellie Kanner