Exclusive First Look Inside Mariah Carey’s Christmas Movie

Oct 19, 2015

Mariah Carey
Credit Wikipedia

1:30 P.M. UPDATE MONDAY OCT. 19: Be on the lookout for Kathy Najimy. She’s also in Mariah Carey’s “A Christmas Melody” Hallmark Channel movie. She plays Aunt Sarah to Kristen (Lacey Chabert). Sarah owns the diner where Kristen often goes to eat.

Those scenes will be shot this week, before filming ends Thursday.

Najimy (“Sister Act,” “Veronica’s Closet,” “Veep”) was in the Kilgour School gym yesterday, but I was too busy watching Carey and Chabert that I didn’t recognize her.  

ORIGINAL POST MONDAY MORNING OCT. 19: Mariah Carey peeked around the curtain on the Kilgour Elementary School stage Sunday, smiling and nodding as students danced to “Jingle Bells” for a scene in her “A Christmas Melody” movie.

I was the only Cincinnati reporter on the set Sunday  -- along with an “Entertainment Tonight” crew -- when the Grammy-winning singer filmed some scenes as the Silver Lake Elementary School PTA president, then returned to her directorial duties for the film’s big “Snowflake Pageant” with actors Lacey Chabert, Brennan Elliott, Fina Strazza and 10 Cincinnati area children dressed as dancing elves.

As expected, Carey was too busy to talk before the movie wraps Thursday. But her Hallmark Channel co-stars and executive producers gave me the scoop on the superstar singer-turned-first-time director, her role in the film, the cast and tweaks to her “Oh Santa” song for the movie.

IN CHARGE: As the director, “she’s incredibly focused. She knows what she wants. It’s like she’s been directing her whole life,” says Elliott, whose credits include “Night At The Museum: Secret of the Tomb, “Flight 93” and “All of My Heart” last February with Chabert.

Lacey Chabert and Brennan Elliott starred in the Hallmark Channel movie "All Of My Heart" in February
Credit Hallmark Channel

“She has a great vision. She wants to make something special,” said executive producer Brad Krevoy, whose Motion Picture Corporation of America produced “The Christmas Spirit” two years ago in Lebanon with Nicollette Sheridan for the Hallmark Channel. 

ROLE OF CHOICE: Carey turned down the role of the respected Silver Lake school principal to play the “bitchy PTA mom,” Krevoy said.

“She’s not afraid of making fun of herself,” said executive producer Jonathan Axelrod. “She’s playing the diva of all mothers.”

MEAN FANS: The pop star is a huge fan of Chabert’s “Mean Girls” movie, and was thrilled to get her for the lead role in “A Christmas Melody,” which was originally called "Melody & Mistletoe."  Chabert was excited to work for the iconic pop singer. They were both nervous about meeting each other, the producers said.

“They were mutual fans of each other,” Axelrod says.

Chabert plays Kristen, a single mother who returns to her hometown, where her old boyfriend Danny (Elliott) is a music teacher. Kristen’s stressed- out daughter Emily (Fina Strazza) is the star of the 25th anniversary “Snowflake Pageant.”

OH, SANTA:  Carey rewrote lyrics to her 2010 hit “Oh Santa” for Fina to sing in the film. About 200 extras saw Fina lip-sync the revised song Sunday night when the climactic school Christmas show was filmed in the Kilgour gym.

Behind her danced 10 young performers who had participated in the Lachey Arts summer camp programs operated by husband-wife Drew and Lea Lachey. The Lacheys choreographed the dance scenes, and Lea has a small role in the film. 

HURRY UP AND WAIT: The extras – mostly parents and children – waited in a classroom seven hours (11 a.m.-6 p.m.) before entering the auditorium. Then they sat 90 minutes on metal folding chairs while the filmmakers shot multiple takes before an 8 p.m. break.

Mariah Carey promotional photo for "A Christmas Melody
Credit Motion Picture Corporation of America

“I just want to thank you all for coming out here for this little scene we created,” Carey told them before the pageant scenes started at 6:30 p.m. “Just have fun!”

KILGOUR CLEAN-UP: This was the second weekend “A Christmas Melody” filmed in the school. Crews were expected to work into the early morning hours to remove the Christmas decorations from the auditorium, plus all the cameras and filmmaking equipment, so classes could resume Monday morning. Filming ends Thursday.

MOVIE PREMIERE:  “A Christmas Melody” will premiere in a Dayton theater screening for local cast and crew before the film airs at 8 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 19, on the Hallmark Channel, Krevoy told the audience Sunday.