The mistletoe secret cast

Kellie Pickler and Tyler Hynes star in “The Mistletoe Secret,” premiering on Hallmark Channel Sunday night.

The “American Idol” alum made her Hallmark debut last year with “Christmas at Graceland,” followed it up with “Wedding at Graceland” earlier this year and is now back with her newest Hallmark movie, which is another Countdown to Christmas flick.

As for Hynes, he also joined the Hallmark family last year. Since starring in 2018’s “Falling for You,” the actor has been in a total of four Hallmark movies, with this one now being his fifth.

Hallmarkies will also recognize Christopher Russell in the movie. This is the third Hallmark movie for the actor, who plays Sterling Masters in the flick, just this year, after having been in “All Summer Long” in August and “Love Unleashed” in July. The “Center Stage: Turn It Up” star has been in quite a few Hallmark movies since joining the family in 2013 with “Catch a Christmas Star.”

Based on the novel of the same name by Richard Paul Evans, keep reading to find out what “The Mistletoe Secret” is all about.

“When Aria Eubank (Pickler) convinces a famous travel writer Sterling Masters (Russell) to do a feature story on her beloved hometown, Midway, Utah, it looks like the town’s catastrophic drop in holiday tourism is about to be reversed,” the synopsis reveals. “However, when the travel guru and his ghostwriter both show up in Midway, Aria finds her heart torn between the charismatic but pompous TV host, and Alex Barlett (Hynes), the secret talent behind ‘Masters of Travel,’ and the man who has genuinely fallen for her.”

Kellie Pickler and Tyler Hynes star in Hallmark Channel’s “The Mistletoe Secret” on Sunday. Photo: Crown Media / Luba Popovic

The synopsis continues: “Midway enjoys its best and most profitable holiday season in years, but when Aria learns that she and the whole town have been deceived, it seems that her hope of finding her forever ‘Mistletoe Man’ will vanish like Santa’s sleigh on Christmas Eve.”

The rest of the cast includes Adrian Neblett (Craig), Beverley Elliott (Catherine), Kazumi Evans (Leslie) and Patrick Duffy (Mack). The flick was directed by Terry Ingram and written by Rickie Castaneda and Megan Hocking.

“The Mistletoe Secret” premieres on Hallmark Channel on Sunday at 8 p.m. EST.

Although Kellie Pickler now has three Hallmark movies under her belt, she still considers herself to be “new to the whole acting thing.” Last December, the American Idol contestant-turned-talk show host made her acting debut as Laurel in Hallmark Channel’s most-viewed holiday movie of the year, Christmas at Graceland. After reprising her role in June’s Wedding at Graceland, Pickler is “excited to switch things up” in her all-new “Countdown to Christmas” movie, The Mistletoe Secret.

In her first two movies with Hallmark, Pickler played an aspiring artist, which she admits wasn’t too much of a stretch for her. “In The Mistletoe Secret, I play a waitress named Aria who is trying to put her small town on the map, which I can also very much relate to,” she tells GoodHousekeeping.com. Even though the movie doesn’t have a music tie-in like last year’s, Pickler still found a way “dabble in a Christmas song here and there.”

But when she wasn’t “humming Christmas songs on set,” Pickler was leaning on her The Mistletoe Secret costars — former Dallas actor Patrick Duffy, especially — for support. Duffy, who plays Pickler’s father in the film, proved to be a “great mentor” to her and the rest of the cast. “He would spend his downtime running lines with me, and really helped me feel as comfortable as possible,” she explains. “He took me under his wing. So did Tyler .”

Patrick Duffy plays Kellie Pickler’s father in The Mistletoe Secret. Ryan Plummer

Duffy and Pickler actually shared a connection before they began filming. In Wedding at Graceland, Pickler shared the screen with Priscilla Presley, who just so happens to be one of Duffy’s former Dallas costars.

While there are no plans for the three to reunite on TV in the near future, Pickler confirms that she does intend to continue working with Hallmark — as long as they want her. “If Hallmark sends another script and it’s the right one for me, I’d love to be in another movie,” she gushes. Her reason is simple: “Hallmark movies are a breath of fresh air from whatever you’re going through in your life or whatever’s going on in the world,” she explains. “It’s home for a lot of people, and it feels like home to me.”

Add Even More Hallmark Cheer to Your Holiday

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Kellie Pickler is back for Hallmark Christmas, in The Mistletoe Secret. She stars alongside Tyler Hynes and Dallas star, Patrick Duffy in a Countdown to Christmas movie that about finding true love through disguises. There is a story of a small town that needs a perk and the dreamer who wants to make it happen.

What Is The Mistletoe Secret About?

The town of Midway, Utah’s tourism is dismal and desperately needs a boost. Waitress Aria Eubank, who loves her hometown has the right solution. She manages to convince a well-known and influential travel writer to write about her charming town.

But, things get complicated when the gorgeous Stirling Masters (Christopher Russell) and his inflated ego arrives to Midway. So does Masters’ ghostwriter Alex Bartlett (Hynes). Turns out, Alex is actually the literary superstar behind the “Masters of Travel” brand. But, he is not a fan of small towns, so Aria has to share a lot of fun Christmas activities to show Alex what a special place Midway really is. A little love triangle ensues, and Aria has to figure out who really has true feelings for her. There is music, decorations, sleigh rides and Patrick Duffy. He co-stars as Mack, Aria’s father.

Kellie Pickler Finds An Elvis Connection With Patrick Duffy

When Kellie Pickler co-starred with Patrick Duffy in The Mistletoe Secret, they instantly had a connection. The Christmas At Graceland star told Good Housekeeping that she and the Dallas star had a Priscilla Presley connection. They both “shared the screen” with Presley.

Duffy also took Pickler, who is still new to acting, under his wing. He became her “mentor” and helped her run through her lines. Hynes and the cast all took her under their wing. A Hallmark movie shoot is very fast paced!

Will there be music in this Hallmark movie? Kellie admits that although this was not a music-focus Hallmark Christmas movie, she managed to “dabble in a Christmas song here and there.” The 2013 Dancing With The Stars mirror ball winner didn’t mention whether or not she will be using those championship dance moves either!

As for whether Pickler will film anymore Hallmark movies, she seems very open to it, as long it is a script that is right for her talents. But she loves how Hallmark movies make people feel.

“Hallmark movies are a breath of fresh air from whatever you’re going through in your life or whatever’s going on in the world. It’s home for a lot of people, and it feels like home to me.”

When Can You See The Mistletoe Secret?

Currently, the Hallmark Channel and Hallmark Mysteries & Movies are airing the Countdown to Christmas. Romantic movies, top series like When Calls The Heart and new mysteries such as Gourmet Detective will return after the holiday season.

Are you planning on watching The Mistletoe Secret? Do you enjoy and are you inspired by stories about women leading dream jobs like being a travel writer? Be sure to check back with TV Shows Ace for the latest Hallmark news.

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Georgia Makitalo

Georgia Makitalo has been a television writer since 2010. She enjoys writing about reality shows with modern adventurers, old cars and modern historians. Whether it be the Bering Sea or a pawn shop in Vegas, she enjoys writing about the characters and fascinating stories.

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Courtesy of EB Media

Kellie Pickler has had a year for the books (and airwaves). There’s been her wildly popular CMT show I Love Kellie Pickler and the expansion of her home goods line, Selma Drye, which the star created in collaboration with the Grande Ole Opry. And did we mention her endearingly hilarious Celebrity Family Feud blooper? Now, with the holiday season in full swing, the North Carolina native is showing no signs of slowing down. In fact, as soon as the Christmas tree goes up in her household ( “A lazy pre-lit tree that we’ve had for so long some of the lights have blown out and created dark patches!” she admits), things only get busier for Kellie and her husband, country music songwriter Kyle Jacobs. “Our traditions are a little different than most people’s since it’s usually the time of year that we head out of Nashville for our USO Holiday Tours,” she tells CountryLiving.com.”They’re wonderful; it gives us an opportunity to take home to our servicemen and women who are serving all around the world.”

Pickler performing on the USO Holiday Tour. Ebie McFarland/EB Media

If the couple manages to make it home for the holidays, Kellie loads up on Kyle’s homemade cooking. “Kyle loves to make pancakes Christmas morning and he makes the best coffee … well, he makes the best coffee every morning,” says Kellie. While Kyle is on kitchen duty, Kellie sets out essential oils and candles to heighten the holiday spirit. “To me, it’s really about the aroma. Peppermint, cinnamon…but mostly peppermint! I have a diffuser with essential oils so the combination of that and candles really make it smell just like Christmas,” she says.

If the couple manages to make it home for the holidays, Pickler loads up on Kyle’s homemade cooking Robby Klein

And even though their tree may be on its last legs, they always try to get it up early in the season: “It really just gives your home that extra boost and makes you want to finish putting up all the other decorations,” she says. With the couple’s wedding anniversary on January 1st, you may even find their residence decked in winter wonderland cheer come the New Year, riding out the tail-end of the holidays in a spirited manner (and providing the couple a convenient excuse to throw one last festiveparty).

But above all, nothing helps Pickler channel those seasonal feel-good vibes like music. “It’s now a little Christmas tradition that we record a Christmas song for our snow globes every year.

Courtesy of Selma Drye

This year we did ‘WhiteChristmas,'” she says (a version that we dare you to getunstuck from your head). When she’s not spinning a collection of holiday favorites inspired by her glistening, sparkly globes, Kellie gets in the merriest of spirits by listening to some classic Christmas tunes by her favorite country artists—and we got her to share her seasonal playlist with us.

EB Media

So go ahead, cue up these celebratory hits and light up a peppermint candle (or eight). Fireplace not included…

  1. Willie Nelson “PrettyPaper”
  2. Dolly Parton “Hard Candy Christmas”
  3. Bing Crosby “White Christmas”
  4. Brenda Lee “Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree”
  5. Faith Hill “Where Are You Christmas”
  6. Carrie Underwood “Do You Hear What I Hear”
  7. LeAnn Womack “The Man With The Bag”
  8. Elvis “Blue Christmas”
  9. Alabama “Christmas In Dixie”
  10. Loretta Lynn “Country Christmas”
  11. Gene Autry “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer”
  12. Vince Gill “Let There Be Peace on Earth”
  13. Alan Jackson “Let It Be Christmas”
  14. Merle Haggard “If We Make It Through December”
  15. Martina McBride “O Holy Night”
  16. The Ellas “Bakin’ Cookies”
  17. Tammy Wynette “(Merry Christmas) We Must Be Having One”
  18. Bing Crosby “The Christmas Song”
  19. Amy Grant “Tennessee Christmas”

Listen to the whole playlist on Spotify here.

Perri O. Blumberg Perri is the former food editor at Reader’s Digest.

“It’s the good kind of crazy,” Kellie Pickler corrects her husband, Kyle Jacobs, when he describes their new “docu-comedy,” I Love Kellie Pickler as full of “crazy situations.” The show premiered on CMT last week and is soon to be followed by more small screen time for the singer-songwriter, who is also set to host an upcoming talk show, executive produced Faith Hill.

With life about to get the good kind of crazy, juggling two TV shows, Pickler still insists she’s not quitting her day job. While she doesn’t have the kind of time to devote to creating and promoting a full album, she does have a holiday single coming out soon.

“It’s called ‘My Christmas Carolina’ and is a Christmas song that we wrote back in July,” she tells Rolling Stone Country. “It’s about Christmas in North Carolina with my grandma. My grandmother raised me and was the one I called ‘Mom.’ It’s a sweet Christmas ballad about Christmas with her growing up.”

Pickler, who co-wrote the sentimental holiday tune with Jacobs, says when she does make her next full album, she’ll dive in head first and “focus on that solely.” Her last LP was 2013’s The Woman I Am.

PERFORMERS
Nashville Symphony | Enrico Lopez-Yañez, conductor | Kellie Pickler, vocals | Evy Ortiz, vocals | Bronson Norris Murphy, vocals

Celebrate the most magical time of year as Kellie Pickler joins your Nashville Symphony and Principal Pops Conductor Enrico Lopez-Yañez for a night of holiday fun amid the splendor of the Schermerhorn. This one-of-a-kind symphonic spectacular will also feature Bronson Norris Murphy, who starred as The Phantom in Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Love Never Dies, and Evy Ortiz, who starred as Maria in the first national Broadway tour of West Side Story.

Featuring:

American Idol Star Kellie Pickler 🎅 Dancers 🎅 Broadway Singers Evy Ortiz & Bronson Norris Murphy 🎅 Your GRAMMY®-winning Nashville Symphony 🎅 A Special Appearance from Santa Himself

Make Music City Christmas your family’s new holiday tradition!

Arrive Early & Enjoy Fun Holiday Festivities in the Lobbies

❄ The American Caroling Company performing traditional Christmas carols in Dickens attire
❄ Delicious Christmas cookies
❄ Specialty holiday drinks
❄ Write & mail letters to Santa
❄ Holiday photo booth

Kellie Pickler Gives Us the Inside Scoop on Her New Hallmark Movie, The Mistletoe Secret

Ryan Plummer

Kellie Pickler returns to Hallmark in The Mistletoe Secret, her third film with our favorite TV Network. She has left Graceland and this time, in a brand-new story, the American Idol alum plays Aria Eubank, a Southerner who has made the tiny Utah town of Midway her home. Much like in real life, Midway and its small businesses are struggling and the tourism the holiday season brings is a much-needed boost. Pickler’s character is leading the charge to put the spotlight on Midway. “I’m trying to save my small town and bring business and revenue there and tourism and put our little city on the map,” Pickler explained in a recent phone call with Southern Living.

Aria Eubank enters Midway into a contest to bring celebrity travel guru Sterling Masters to town to experience Christmas in Midway. The whole town goes all out for their holiday celebrations and Eubank gets help from her friends, neighbors, and her dad, played by the one and only Patrick Duffy.

“Patrick Duffy plays my father, which is amazing! He’s one of the most incredible human beings I’ve ever met in my life. He is so funny. He’s so kind. He has this beautiful energy about him, and he just brings this light to set. He’s such a bright light,” Pickler said.

This wouldn’t be a Hallmark movie without a love interest and this one has two possibilities. Will Aria fall for flashy Sterling Masters, or the other writer who comes to town, Alex Barlett, played by Hallmark regular, Tyler Hynes? “He was so wonderful to work with too. He was great. He was a lot of fun,” Pickler said of Hynes.

Her first two Hallmark movies were filmed in Memphis at Graceland with the same director and nearly all of the same crew members. This movie had the displaced Southerner up with our neighbors to the north in Vancouver, Canada.

“It was funny because I was the only one on the set that had an accent, a southern accent. It was so funny. I was like, gosh I’m gonna start apologizing for no reason now. Everyone’s going ‘woa so sorry,'” she said with a laugh. She then shared how she told the crew that instead of a swear jar, she was going to put out an “oh sorry” jar. “Everybody that’s apologizing for no reasons gonna have to put a dollar in the oh sorry jar,” she recalled with another chuckle.

The Mistletoe Secret is one of the 40 new films Hallmark is releasing this season as a part of the 10th anniversary of Countdown to Christmas. Each year the non-stop marathon of feel-good, holiday films has gotten bigger, started earlier, and included more and more of our favorite stars. It’s become its own pop-culture phenomenon. We know that many fans have Hallmark movie watching parties. We’ve done it ourselves. So, we asked Pickler what her go-to movie watching snack is.

“I mean honestly, I’m a popcorn girl. And I’m real bad about, even if there’s a movie that’s out in movie theaters that I want to see, I love to watch movies at home…I will wait until movies come out on demand or I can order them. And the thing I love about the movie theater though, is the popcorn. That’s my jam. So, I like to go to the movie theater, get those big tubs of popcorn, and then I come home. ‘Cause the movie theater is not far from my house so I can swing by the theater, grab that big ol’ tub of popcorn, come back home and watch whatever I want to… their popcorn is better than that store bought stuff that you put in the microwave.” We think this is a genius idea!

WATCH: Hey Y’all Hallmark Movie Marathon

If you want more Kellie Pickler in the Christmas spirit, head to Nashville December 5-7 where she will be performing with the Nashville Symphony, which Pickler admits is bigger than her wildest dreams. “When I got in line for Idol I’d never performed with a band before.”

The Mistletoe Secret premieres on Hallmark Channel, Sunday, November 10th. Don’t miss it!

Kellie Pickler returns to Hallmark in The Mistletoe Secret, her third film with our favorite TV Network. She has left Graceland and this time, in a brand-new story, the American Idol alum plays Aria Eubank, a Southerner who has made the tiny Utah town of Midway her home. Much like in real life, Midway and its small businesses are struggling and the tourism the holiday season brings is a much-needed boost. Pickler’s character is leading the charge to put the spotlight on Midway. “I’m trying to save my small town and bring business and revenue there and tourism and put our little city on the map,” Pickler explained in a recent phone call with Southern Living.

Aria Eubank enters Midway into a contest to bring celebrity travel guru Sterling Masters to town to experience Christmas in Midway. The whole town goes all out for their holiday celebrations and Eubank gets help from her friends, neighbors, and her dad, played by the one and only Patrick Duffy.

“Patrick Duffy plays my father, which is amazing! He’s one of the most incredible human beings I’ve ever met in my life. He is so funny. He’s so kind. He has this beautiful energy about him, and he just brings this light to set. He’s such a bright light,” Pickler said.

This wouldn’t be a Hallmark movie without a love interest and this one has two possibilities. Will Aria fall for flashy Sterling Masters, or the other writer who comes to town, Alex Barlett, played by Hallmark regular, Tyler Hynes? “He was so wonderful to work with too. He was great. He was a lot of fun,” Pickler said of Hynes.

Her first two Hallmark movies were filmed in Memphis at Graceland with the same director and nearly all of the same crew members. This movie had the displaced Southerner up with our neighbors to the north in Vancouver, Canada.

“It was funny because I was the only one on the set that had an accent, a southern accent. It was so funny. I was like, gosh I’m gonna start apologizing for no reason now. Everyone’s going ‘woa so sorry,’” she said with a laugh. She then shared how she told the crew that instead of a swear jar, she was going to put out an “oh sorry” jar. “Everybody that’s apologizing for no reasons gonna have to put a dollar in the oh sorry jar,” she recalled with another chuckle.

The Mistletoe Secret is one of the 40 new films Hallmark is releasing this season as a part of the 10th anniversary of Countdown to Christmas. Each year the non-stop marathon of feel-good, holiday films has gotten bigger, started earlier, and included more and more of our favorite stars. It’s become its own pop-culture phenomenon. We know that many fans have Hallmark movie watching parties. We’ve done it ourselves. So, we asked Pickler what her go-to movie watching snack is.

“I mean honestly, I’m a popcorn girl. And I’m real bad about, even if there’s a movie that’s out in movie theaters that I want to see, I love to watch movies at home…I will wait until movies come out on demand or I can order them. And the thing I love about the movie theater though, is the popcorn. That’s my jam. So, I like to go to the movie theater, get those big tubs of popcorn, and then I come home. ‘Cause the movie theater is not far from my house so I can swing by the theater, grab that big ol’ tub of popcorn, come back home and watch whatever I want to… their popcorn is better than that store bought stuff that you put in the microwave.” We think this is a genius idea!

WATCH: Hey Y’all Hallmark Movie Marathon

If you want more Kellie Pickler in the Christmas spirit, head to Nashville December 5-7 where she will be performing with the Nashville Symphony, which Pickler admits is bigger than her wildest dreams. “When I got in line for Idol I’d never performed with a band before.”

The Mistletoe Secret premieres on Hallmark Channel, Sunday, November 10th. Don’t miss it!

Hallmark Review: ‘The Mistletoe Secret’

Having grown up in the small town of Midway, Utah and now running her family’s “Mistletoe Diner”, Aria Eubanks (Kellie Pickler) has always had a fondness for Christmas. Now, with a ski resort threatening to destroy the small businesses of Midway, Aria is hoping out hope for a miracle to turn things around. Specifically, she’s hoping that successful travel writer Sterling Masters (Christopher Russell) will choose Midway as the latest destination to write about for his annual “Big Holiday Adventure” article.

Little does Aria know, however, is that Sterling’s work is penned by his best friend and ghostwriter Alex Bartlett (Tyler Hynes), who has recently come to Midway to write the article for Sterling. While Alex’s bluntness initially gets under Aria’s skin, the two soon strike up a friendship as Alex finds himself charmed by Midway’s dedication to making every Christmas special. But when Sterling comes to town and also takes a shine to Aria, will Alex’s secret tear him and Aria apart?

While the two follow vastly different plots, Hallmark’s 2018 offering It’s Christmas, Eve and The Mistletoe Secret share one commonality: they both have Tyler Hynes starring opposite a leading lady played by a woman more widely known as a singer than an actress. But while It’s Christmas, Eve followed the “Save the Town’s Beloved (insert something)” template for Hallmark holiday flicks, The Mistletoe Secret takes on the classic “Love Triangle” narrative. Seasoned Hallmark viewers have likely seen these story beats before, with the ghostwriting element of the story only marginally bringing deviation to the formula. As such, the film’s cast is left largely responsible for spicing things up–and despite some hiccups, The Mistletoe Secret’s cast mostly succeeds in bringing some charm and heart to the film’s admittedly familiar plot.

Skimming the IMDB reviews for The Mistletoe Secret reveal that a vast majority of viewers feel Kellie Pickler was a terrible leading lady, to the point of some reviewers calling for Hallmark never to hire her again. Personally, I find most of these reviews to be over exaggerating, though with a grain of truth to them. While Pickler has her share of charming and sweet moments as small-town-loving country girl Aria, there are just as many moments when she appears stiff and uncomfortable. The few moments when her character sings highlights her increased experience in singing over acting, as Pickler is noticeably more comfortable in those moments when compared to how she appears throughout the rest of the film. Pickler isn’t helped by the fact that Aria Eubanks dangerously borders on becoming an unlikable character, initially being unnecessarily brusque and borderline condescending to Alex, being all too easily duped by Sterling’s false charms, and very nearly becoming a Mary Sue character due to how much time is spent painting Aria as a saint. Pickler’s performance isn’t terrible, but she’s hardly a contender for Hallmark’s next recurring actress.

Tyler Hynes fares much better, bringing the same charm and instant likability to Alex as he did with Liam Bailey from It’s Christmas, Eve, and he and Pickler strike up a chemistry as Alex and Aria forge a friendship–a chemistry which Pickler reciprocates despite her flawed performance. Another flawed performer comes in the surprising form of Christopher Russell’s portrayal of Sterling Masters, as Russell has proven a competent actor in other works I’ve seen him in. Here, however, he drops the ball due to the film’s attempts to humanize Sterling. From his opening scene of Sterling on his TV show to his final scene with Alex, Russell plays Sterling as a straight-forward smarmy, self-aggrandizing celebrity personality taking advantage of his best friend for his own gain. Even in moments when Sterling is meant to come across as a flawed man who genuinely cares for Alex, Russell’s performance makes his words of friendship and support feel insincere, which in turn makes the informed years-long camaraderie between him and Alex ring hollow. Sterling’s artificial charm when it comes to his romancing of Aria are also made too obviously fake thanks to Russell’s performance, to the point where Aria looks like an idiot for buying into it.

The mixed bag main cast is supported by a solid side cast, all of whom make Midway believable as a kind-hearted small town where everyone’s family. Patrick Duffy brings charm as Aria’s father Mack, who refreshingly subverts the “Overprotective Dad” trope I’ve grown to hate by wholeheartedly rooting for Aria and Alex’s budding romance. Another highlight comes in the form of high-energy Midway local Catherine, who is played with the appropriate amount of hyperactive gusto by Beverley Elliott. The Mistletoe Secret is also notable for downplaying the “Big City Bad, Small Town Good” mentality other Hallmark films have embodied (*cough cough* What I Did for Love *cough cough*) by arguing that, while city life isn’t inherently awful, some people (such as Aria and eventually Alex) find greater happiness in the simplicity of small-town life.

In spite of some uneven acting from two of its main stars and the uneven characterization of its lead heroine, The Mistletoe Secret remains a solid little Hallmark feature that meets the requirement that it keeps a viewer entertained and leaves them feeling good. With Hynes providing more than enough of a charismatic screen presence to make up for where Pickler is lacking and the antics revolving around Midway’s devotion to Christmas providing fun side entertainment, the film is sure to be a good film to watch on a lazy December day wrapped up in a cozy blanket–even if it isn’t a film that will become go-to viewing for the holiday season.

Score: 6 out of 10 Christmas passports.