Featuring New Iberia: 'Christmas in Louisiana' made it's Lifetime debut

The quaint Acadiana town of New Iberia will get its two hours of fame on Saturday night when Lifetime airs "Christmas in Louisiana."

Well-known actors, including Barry Bostwick, Dee Wallace and Moira Kelly, star, but viewers may also recognize local folks among the more than 300 extras cast for the holiday movie.

Shot over 16 days in the August heat, the temperature wasn't the biggest challenge. It rained the first 13 days.

"It was a good, old-fashioned Louisiana rainstorm, not a little drizzle here and there," said executive producer Daniel Lewis, an LSU graduate whose new company, Evergreen Film Productions, worked on the project with producer Active Entertainment.

Luckily, with a creative crew and assistance from New Iberia Mayor Freddie Decourt and his team, shooting schedules were shuffled and reshuffled around Mother Nature.

"We were changing the locations the day before," Madisonville filmmaker Lewis said. "We had two days' worth of outdoor shooting that was going to be all the dance sequences for the Mr. and Miss Christmas dance, and we had to find an interior location."

Set dressers got to work decking out the Gouguenheim Bed-and-Breakfast for the dance scenes. Other New Iberia sites in the spotlight will be the Sliman Theatre, Bayou Teche, Bouligny Plaza and storefronts all along picturesque Main Street. The town, situated along the Bayou Teche in Iberia Parish, and all the set locations retain their real names in the typically simple and wholesome Lifetime holiday tale.

"The Winter family is Christmas royalty in New Iberia, Louisiana, and Sarah Winter (Jana Kramer), a successful lawyer and former Miss Christmas, is no exception," according to the movie synopsis. "When she returns home to celebrate the anniversary of the town’s Sugarcane Christmas Festival with her mother (Kelly) and her grandparents (Wallace and Bostwick), she rediscovers the magic of the season — and a little romance — with her former Mister Christmas, Luke (Percy Daggs III)."

The main cast also includes Carol Wells (Young Sarah) and Darrius Thomas (Young Luke), both of Ascension Parish; Lara Grice (Miss Clara), New Orleans; Scott Allen Perry (Mayor Freddie Decourt) and Roger Timber (Ronnie), both of Lafayette.

"To be able to show off these smaller communities across the state, and then they can go to these places … it's a good experience for the Lifetime viewer but also for the city itself," Lewis said. "We hire a lot of local people. It ends up becoming a community effort, because people in the town get so excited about their city being able to be seen around the world, and they take a lot of pride in that, so they do come out and try to help us make the best production possible."

Lewis said almost the entire crew lives in Louisiana.

Lewis' working relationship with Lifetime started in 2012 with the St. Martinville-shot movie "Christmas on the Bayou," which aired in 2013 and starred Ed Asner, Markie Post and Randy Travis.

"To this day, it is the highest rating Christmas movie ever for Lifetime," Lewis said. "That movie, we kind of felt like the viewers responded to it, partly was because of the casting decisions, but one of the things that was interesting about it is it's a Christmas movie that isn't covered in snow and the actors aren't bundled up and pretending to be cold," he said. "It's an authentic Southern Christmas because as you know, 95% of the time on Christmas Day, we're not bundled up. We might be wearing long sleeves."

'Christmas in Louisiana'

WHEN: 7 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 16

CHANNEL: Lifetime

INFO: mylifetime.com/movies/christmas-in-louisiana

Article written by: Judy Bergeron at jbergeron@theadvocate.com

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