Movie Christmas Again premieres on Disney Channel and Disney Plus Friday, Dec. 3. Scarlett Estevez plays Rowena, a 12-year-old who’s not having a very good Christmas. She makes a wish to a neighborhood Santa for a do-over, and finds herself reliving Christmas Day over and over and over again, a la Groundhog Day. To break the loop, Rowena must learn to appreciate her family, and the true meaning of Christmas.
Andy Fickman is director and executive producer. He said he was on board as soon as he read the script. “Groundhog Day is a favorite film of mine,” he said. “I was looking to find a Christmas movie I really connect with.”
Rowena’s parents have split up, and her father has brought his new partner, and her annoying young son, to Rowena’s house for Christmas. Fickman liked that the script touched on how families change, and evolve. He mentioned his own son dealing with divorce. “The holidays were difficult for him. It was, we used to do it all together, and now it’s, next year you’ll be with Dad, then you’ll be with Mom,” he said. “I read the script and connected with how many people deal with that. It’s a question of, can you make new traditions, can you be open to new traditions?”
Fickman’s credits include the Kevin James Netflix series The Crew and movies Playing With Fire, Parental Guidance and Paul Blart: Mall Cop 2.
Christmas Again shot in Chicago. Fickman noted the production infrastructure in the city, thanks in large part to the Dick Wolf dramas that shoot there. It was supposed to shoot in the summer, but a pandemic-related delay pushed it to fall 2020, production wrapping Dec. 23, which gave the production a more Christmas-y feel than a summer shoot.
Gary Anthony Williams plays Santa. Fickman called it “a very fresh take on Santa.” The pair worked together on The Crew. “I would happily do a thousand Gary-as-Santa projects,” he added.
Fickman raved about his Rowena as well. He called Estevez, in the cast on Bunk’d, “a naturally born comedic actor” that blew away the producers at her screen test. “An innate funny bone is needed, and she just has it over and over and over again,” he added.
Fickman said Christmas Again counts It’s a Wonderful Life and A Christmas Story as influences. He has a soft spot for Christmas. It’s also his birthday.
“I always consider Christmas my special holiday,” said Fickman. ■
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Michael Malone, senior content producer at B+C/Multichannel News, covers network programming, including entertainment, news and sports on broadcast, cable and streaming; and local broadcast television. He hosts the podcasts Busted Pilot, about what’s new in television, and Series Business, a chat with the creator of a new program, and writes the column “The Watchman.” He joined B+C in 2005. His journalism has also appeared in The New York Times, The Philadelphia Inquirer, Playboy and New York magazine.