Sorry, Canada: Bethlehem will have its own Christmas movie filmed right here
- Hollywood actor Danny Roebuck is filming his new Christmas movie in Bethlehem
- The director and veteran star was inspired after Hallmark filmed a movie about Christmas City in Canada
- Filming locations include St. Luke's Children's Hospital, Historic Hotel Bethlehem, Christkindlmarkt
BETHLEHEM, Pa. — No offense, Winnipeg!
When Hollywood actor Danny Roebuck found out a new Hallmark movie "Miracle in Bethlehem, Pa." was shot on location in Manitoba, Canada, he did a take two.
"I was so excited to hear the news and then confused when they said they were shooting it in Winnipeg, Canada," Roebuck, a native of Christmas City, said at a news conference at Historic Hotel Bethlehem on Monday.
Roebuck, who often uses his hometown in his faith-based productions, teased he was working a new project, "Miracle in Winnipeg, Manitoba" in Bethlehem, before spreading some real holiday joy.
His newest film, "St. Nick of Bethlehem" will be filmed on location in Christmas City. Roebuck, who was dressed in a bright red sweater and sported a Santa-like beard, plays the title character.
The first scenes started shooting on Monday afternoon at the Snow Goose Gallery, 470 Main Street.
Shooting will conclude in a week and includes locations in and around Bethlehem including the Historic Hotel Bethlehem, Saint Luke's Children Hospital, the Kiffle Kitchen Bakery in Bath, the Star of Bethlehem, Christkindlmarkt at SteelStacks and other businesses on Main Street.
A faith-based production
The movie's director is Spencer Folmar, who is based in Central Pennsylvania.
The movie will be produced by Folmar's production company, Hard Faith, and Roebuck's Magic Bean Entertainment, and the Marlow-Pugnetti Company.
After they wrap up filming this week, the crew will return in March to finish (and before the Christmas magic melts into spring).
Roebuck is known for his roles in the TV series “Lost” and “Matlock,” and in films such as "The Fugitive" and Rob Zombie's "The Munsters."
His three films, "Lucky Louie," "Getting Grace" and "Hail Mary," were also filmed around the Lehigh Valley.
"It's always a gorgeous town, but it is in the winter that the town turns more into the Christmas theme. Everywhere you look, there's something more amazing than somewhere else," Roebuck said in a pre-recorded interview shown during the conference.
"The Hotel Bethlehem is spectacular, Main Street with the lights and the horse and carriages is beautiful. The South Side while looking at the blast furnace from Bethlehem Steel lit up for Christmas, right next to Christkindlmart is something to behold. It truly is one of the most beautiful places in the United States."
Local actors shine
"Saint Nick's" cast includes Cathy Mtoriarty, Marsha Dietlein Bennett, Duane Whitaker, Timothy E. Goodwin, Stelio Savant and Elias Kemaul.
Local thespians Jennifer Poratta, Kathy Patterson and Keith Willis, also star with newcomer, Joey Oltman, a 17-year-old student at Moravian Academy.
Oltman plays Jeremiah, who has a "rivalry" with Nick, in the scenes.
"It was a really unexpected casting. A couple days ago I got a call from [casting agent] Beth Clausnitzer. I did a quick line reading and that was it," he said. "I think it's going to be a lot of fun, it's my first film and I'm really excited and I'm learning a lot about production."
Additionally, the film will also employ locals such as Alex Kovacs, formerly of Allentown, who will compose music, Vista Grill in Nazareth, which will provide catering, and costume designer, Kristin Dundon.
Roebuck and his wife, Tammy, run the nonprofit, Channel for Peace, a Bethlehem-based organization that they founded to produce and support films and other multi-media projects centered around faith and family.
Saint Nick may or may not end up debuting on the Hallmark channel, but will be available to stream online — hopefully by Christmas 2024.
And stay tuned for the red carpet premiere that will most likely happen in, where else, Bethlehem.
"The great news is that we have three production companies and all of us have forged great relationships. Perhaps it's a Pure Flix movie," Roebuck said. "Everything we make will eventually stream on Amazon where you can buy it," Roebuck said.