“My mom was a big fan of Christmas,” says Daytime Emmy-nominated writer, director and producer Ron Oliver, recalling his early days in the tiny town of Dundalk, Ontario, two hours north of Toronto. “Throughout the year, we have been striving for this. To this day, I still have childhood memories of our main street – shops, snow, trees, flickering lights. All classic curry and willow Christmas. Every time I shoot these films, I try to capture those moments. “
It took Oliver over four decades to make a career in candy color based on a passion for everything Noel inherited from his mother. First, he will have to move to Southern California, both to escape the harsh winters in his home country and to work in Hollywood. Oliver and his 10-year-old husband Eric Bowes have lived in Palm Springs since 2001, and at his request, we met at the Reef Bar, located at the Caliente Tropics Resort on the southern outskirts of town. A cheerful, friendly 61-year-old in Bermuda in a short-sleeved shirt, sips on neither mulled wine nor mulled wine, but margarita.
“I’ve done all sorts of things – thrillers, horror, kids, comedy,” says the man who first dabbled in show business when he was a young magician in high school and who was a member of Los Angeles. The magic castle has been around for over a quarter of a century. “None of this resonated with audiences like my Christmas films.”
Here are just a few examples of holiday titles he has written and / or sent since 2005: Dennis the Terrible Christmas, Christmas Angel, Romance in the Reindeer House, Love in the Thanksgiving Day Parade, and the unnamed Lindsay Lohan Project , filmed in Utah, is due out on Netflix next year.
One of Oliver’s recent favorites started out as a joke. In April 2019, he posted on social media an image of him sipping champagne in a bar at a famous New York City landmark, commenting that he was exploring a trinket called “Christmas in the Square.”
“On Monday morning,” Oliver recalls, “my manager from Hallmark called me and said,“ If you’re serious and can get it done, we’ll make this film. ” Here’s your budget. ” Seven months later, it went on the air with great fanfare.
The next milestone for Oliver is the just-completed True Housewives of the North Pole, aired on December 9, Peacock’s first attempt at the genre. “This is the story of two best friends who live across the street from each other,” he says of the film, which is set not in the North Pole, but in the fictional village of North Pole, Virginia. “Their friendship is tested and crumbled. so they decide to compete against each other in the annual holiday decorations competition. In doing so, they learn a little about the nature of friendship and how much they really need each other. “
The top of the hat in the wildly successful reality TV franchise is no coincidence, and genius actor Kyle Richards of The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills faced the breakthrough Breaking Bad Betsy Brandt. A small number of other doyenne from Real Housewives appear in hilarious episodic episodes.
“Kyle is an amazing actor, but what amazed me is that she is not on the charts,” notes Oliver. “Betsy, of course, had her usual brilliance. The yin and yang of their on-screen relationship created this perfect comic and dramatic chemistry. “
The Housewives’ story goes back to a dinner that producer Brad Crevoy – CEO and chairman of the American film company who has produced more than 50 of these confections for various networks, cable and streamers since 2013 – with veteran holiday scribes Neil. H. Dobrofsky, Tippy Dobrofsky and their son Spider, each of whom is the author of the script for the new film.
“It wasn’t difficult,” Krevoy says of giving the command. Having previously worked with Oliver on Christmas Walk and Every Christmas has a Story – two titles that were Hallmark’s # 1 – he knew he had the perfect helmsman for this project. “Ron was my first call because he loves these films, understands them,” says Krevoy. “Every day he comes to the set wearing his Christmas outfits, which sets the mood.”
“My husband is a huge fan of Real Housewives,” adds Oliver, admitting that the idea immediately struck him as brilliant. “When I told him it was just around the corner, the very first words he said were“ Yes, ”“ Yes, ”and“ Yes. ”
Knowing that the entire package was specially designed for NBCUniversal, the owner of the Bravo network (where Real Housewives live) and Peacock, Krevoy took him there first. The rest is the history of the holidays.
“The peacock didn’t give me any credentials,” says Oliver. “They were amazing. They just wanted the film to be beautiful, fun, and heartfelt. If anything, the rules were a little more loose. For example, here Santa Claus is doing something that you didn’t even expect him to do in Hallmark. The peacock was not so committed to tradition. Disrespect is the right word for this. They had a disrespect for the imagery of Christmas movies. “
Regardless of which edition his work is broadcast in, Oliver remains unshakable in his philosophy of julet television: “Make him beautiful, make him nostalgic, make him romantic and give them a little love at the end.”
Speaking of love, you might think that a man who hasn’t worked his entire career – and whose wedding anniversary falls on December 25, quite deliberately – would want to make a gay holiday movie to put an end to all gay holiday movies. It would be wrong.
“To be honest, no,” admits Oliver. “I would like to. Part of me takes offense at this, but I can’t speak on behalf of every gay person, and sometimes when you make a film like this, you are accused of this idea. You suddenly become a role model for all LGBTQ people. “
However, Oliver’s next project features the queer couple as the protagonist’s best friends. “I prefer the show – and we see it more and more often – that gays are just part of the mix,” he says. “What’s interesting about this is that when I wrote it, I thought, ‘I need a friend at work and a soul mate.’ My first reaction was not husband and wife. They were two husbands, because that’s exactly what it would have been. “
As the sun begins to set over the desert, I ask Oliver why he is so good at this genre. “I think this is because I understand that under all the ridiculous commercialized bullshit, the bright colors and the sparkling lights that we wrap around the holidays, it’s all about the heart. Every Christmas story comes down to someone telling someone that they love them. “
If MPCA’s Krevoy is correct in his understanding of mistletoe leaves, Oliver can continue to create his adorable congratulations for the foreseeable future. “We are in this cycle for at least the next five years,” says Krevoy. “With the advent of streamers, new opportunities are opening up because everyone wants to be in this space. This is a very good time for content creators. “
“I’m just a kid from a small Canadian village,” Oliver concludes, finishing his cocktail. “The very fact that I can do something in Hollywood is still a Christmas miracle for me.”
‘Housewives of the North Pole’
When: Anytime from Thursday 9 December.
Rating: TV-PG (may not be suitable for small children)