As part of Lifetime’s upcoming slate of holiday movies, under the “It’s a Wonderful Lifetime” umbrella, soaper Justin Gaston (“Days of our Lives,” “The Young and the Restless”) will star alongside Rita Moreno and Marissa Jaret Winokur in “Santa Bootcamp” which is being directed by Melissa Joan Hart who the network has dubbed their “Queen of Christmas” following her previous efforts behind the camera with the Lifetime films “The Santa Con,” “Feliz NaviDAD,” and “The Watcher.”
Announced during Lifetime’s TCA session, the movie follows an event planner, Emily Strauss (Emily Kinney), who is hired by mall magnate, Ed Mancini (Patrick Cassidy), to stage the ultimate Christmas Gala for his most influential investors. To make that happen, Emily finds herself being sent to bootcamp – Santa Bootcamp – to find the perfect Santa and inspiration she will need to make the evening a success. While there, Emily meets Belle (Moreno), the bootcamp’s drill sergeant with a heart of gold, who helps Emily rediscover the magic of Christmas and find romance along the way.
In a statement, EGOT winner Moreno said, “I have always been a holiday person… particularly Christmas. The idea that I’m actually going to participate in this wonderful Lifetime Christmas movie, ‘Santa Bootcamp,’ just tickles me to no end.” She added, “I have been known, at Christmas time, to decorate anyone in my house who happens to stand still for more than a minute. I will decorate anyone and anything because I turn into a child. Therefore, what a treat for me! Thank you Lifetime. My grandchildren are already celebrating!”
To help showcase the network’s commitment to diversity and inclusivity, the film also includes deaf actors Deanne Bray and Zyra Singleton as part of the cast. John Schuck also stars.
In addition to directing, Hart serves as executive producer along with Irene Dreayer, Gina Rugolo Judd, and Paula Hart. The film is produced by Hartbreak Films Inc with a script written by Michael J. Murray.
The full “It’s a Wonderful Lifetime” slate and airdates will be announced this fall.