Television May 01, 2023
Sam Haskell on ‘Dolly Parton’s Mountain Magic Christmas’ & ‘A Waltons Thanksgiving’ Emmy Buzz
Emmy-winning producer Sam Haskell had a big year with hit TV movies!
“Extra’s” Melvin Robert caught up with Sam to talk about the success of the NBC movie “Dolly Parton’s Mountain Magic Christmas” and The CW’s “A Walton’s Thanksgiving,” both of which have received accolades already and are now receiving Emmy buzz.
“Dolly Parton’s Mountain Magic Christmas” was the most-watched film of 2022, as well as the winner of the 2023 MovieGuide Awards Epiphany Prize and recipient of an honorable mention from the Gracie Awards.
Sam’s own daughter Mary Lane Haskell acted in it after being in Sam’s other projects with Dolly. He shared, “Dolly said, ‘You know, we got to have her in ‘Mountain Magic Christmas,’ so let's have her come back and reprise her role as the teacher from the ‘Little Dolly’ movies with the Kids for the Imagination Library.’ So Mary Lane came back and did a little duet with her and was a part of that scene as well, so Dolly always calls her her good luck charm. And so that makes her daddy very proud.”
Tom Everett Scott plays Sam in the film. When asked about watching an actor play him, Sam commented, “Well, I have to tell you, Melvin, there were times when I got teary-eyed because it was all so real to me because it was taken from our real relationship and our real lives.”
He added, “It's really difficult to watch someone play yourself because you want to say, ‘Oh, I'll say it this way, say it that way.’ And I had given a couple of line readings to our director to give him so that it would be very much like me… But there was one little quirk that I do, and anyone who knows me well knows that if I get nervous, I put my hand on my neck. And he was told that. And a couple of times during the movie you will see Tom's hand go to his neck.”
Sam’s other movie, “A Waltons Thanksgiving,” was the recipient of MovieGuide’s Faith and Freedom Award and the Christopher Award
Speaking of the MovieGuide Awards, Sam said, “Well, to have both of them win in different categories the same night was quite wonderful.”
Of creating the special, Haskell dished, “I got a really good feeling for what people want to see. And ‘The Waltons’ touched a lot of people's hearts back in the ‘70s.”
He went on, “I realized that it was the 50th anniversary of that initial movie a couple of years ago. Warner Brothers so willingly let me take this piece of [intellectual property] and turn it into an incredible remake.”
Sam also broke some news, saying, “We've got a third movie ready to go, but we're also going to try to turn it into a series again. And if we can do that, we may turn that third movie into the first two episodes of a new series. But ‘Waltons Easter’ is ready to go. And we'll see what happens in terms of a series. But I'm so proud of it. And I hope that when the [Emmy] voters are going down that list of movies that when they see ‘The Waltons Thanksgiving,’ that they'll think about the fact that this movie has touched so many people and has brought families together again.”
Talking about the success of his projects, Haskell emphasized, “I think that the success of both of these projects, I think that what it affirms within the general collective is that people do want feel-good content, because I think sometimes there's conversation that it doesn't sell.”
“We know that people are touched and we know that people see what we're trying to do,” Sam continued. “And that's what it's all about. Just to be touched by what we do. That's what's most important to me. It's not about awards as much as it is about making a difference and bringing a focus to something that maybe isn't focused on enough, and I think that we do that with ‘The Waltons.’ And we definitely do that with ‘Dolly Parton's Mountain Magic Christmas.’”