Seasonal Lifetime movie unites 'Dallas' and 'thirtysomething' alums
Two television veterans have teamed up to offer some seasonal cheer — one of them on both sides of the camera.
Polly Draper (“thirtysomething”) is the director as well as a star — along with “Dallas” and “Step by Step” alum Patrick Duffy — of “People Presents: Once Upon a Main Street,” which Lifetime debuts Sunday, Nov. 29. Duffy plays a recent widower who owns a building that two people (Vanessa Lachey, Ryan McPartlin) are vying to buy for individual purposes. Since he’s not up to fulfilling his usual duties on his town’s Christmas-decoration committee, they assume those for him, each hoping they’ll be the party he decides to sell to. Draper portrays a local who’s also involved in the decorating.
Previously a writer-director of such projects as the movie “Stella’s Last Weekend” (in which she appeared as well) and the series “The Naked Brothers Band” — both of which starred her sons, Alex Wolff and Nat Wolff — the friendly Draper says “it was nice to be working when everybody else was hunkered down” while filming “Once Upon a Main Street” under coronavirus conditions in and around Carson City, Nev. “They didn’t have many (COVID-19) cases there then.”
Emmy-nominated in her “thirtysomething” days for playing Ellyn Warren, Draper reports that Lifetime approached her about making the Christmas film after seeing “Stella’s Last Weekend” and she reasons, “I guess they thought I had a nice touch with actors. They had already chosen the cast, so I just got lucky that (the actors) were so great … Patrick being one of my faves.”
The genial Duffy admits he didn’t know Draper as an actress (“I was like, “Dude! Brush up on your ‘80s TV!,’” she laughs) when he started work on “Once Upon a Main Street,” one of several holiday-themed cable movies he’s made in recent years. “I’m grateful to be able to make this transition,” he reflects. “In the ‘70s and ‘80s, I was in a certain genre of young actors, and to have a company like Lifetime that continually makes product that utilizes actors of my age now, I’m filled with gratitude and happy to do it each time one of these comes my way.”
Executive-produced by Paula Hart, mother of actress and director Melissa Joan Hart (who’s a producer here, with a couple of other Lifetime projects during this year’s holidays), “Once Upon a Main Street” was filmed a couple of months ago when it was “blistering hot” on location, Duffy reveals. “Luckily, most of my scenes are indoors, so I didn’t have to do the heavy bundling-up thing. I remember all the times I had to wear a heavy coat, a muffler and gloves in 90-degree weather.”