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TV Tidbits: Actors with local ties celebrate holidays on Hallmark channels

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Hallmark’s seemingly never-ending sea of Christmas-themed movies, some airing on the primary channel and others on Hallmark Movies & Mysteries, features several actors with local ties this weekend.

At 1 p.m. Sunday, Marc Blucas, who played basketball for Wake Forest University before shifting to an acting career, is featured in “Holiday For Heroes” on HM&M. The movie, which made its debut Friday, follows a soldier who meets his pen pal, played by Melissa Claire Egan, for the first time during the holidays after exchanging letters for a year. The cast also includes Cheikh M’Baye, a young actor from New York whose mother, Darnetha Lincoln M’Baye, attended Wake with Blucas.

Then at 10:03 p.m. Sunday, “Christmas Wishes & Mistletoe Kisses” makes its debut on Hallmark, with a cast led by Jill Wagner, a Winston-Salem native. She plays a woman hired to decorate the estate of a businessman who doesn’t have time for the holidays, played by Matthew Davis. Donna Mills also stars. Wagner also has a supporting role in “Christmas in Evergreen: Tidings of Joy,” which will air Nov. 29 on Hallmark.

Both actors are fixtures of Hallmark’s Christmas movie lineup and fans of the season. “There is nothing like your kids waking you up on Christmas morning,” Blucas says in a video posted on Hallmark’s website about favorite holiday traditions. “When you have kids — my kids are 4 and 7 — they are in the heart of it, and there is nothing better than that.”

Previous Hallmark holiday films with Blucas will also air in the next week: 2016’s “Operation Christmas” at 7 a.m. Thursday on HM&M, and 2017’s “Miss Christmas” at 4:05 a.m. next Saturday on the Hallmark Channel.

And Wagner is also the star of several repeat films, 2016’s “Christmas Cookies,” which will be shown next at 12:06 a.m. Tuesday on Hallmark; 2018’s “Christmas in Evergreen: Letters to Santa,” which will be shown starting at 4 p.m. Nov. 29 on Hallmark; and 2017’s “Maggie’s Christmas Miracle,” airing next on Dec. 5 on HM&M.

Other Christmas movies in the marathons with local ties include “The Mistletoe Secret” with Albemarle native Kellie Pickler, which debuted earlier this month and will be repeated at 4 p.m. today on Hallmark; and 2017’s “Coming Home For Christmas” (4 p.m. next Sunday, Nov. 24 on Hallmark) with UNCSA alumnus Neal Bledsoe wooing Danica McKellar.

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Good news for several UNCSA alumni and a city native. ABC ordered six more episodes each of “American Housewife,” which costars UNCSA alum Diedrich Bader, and “Bless This Mess,” with a cast including Winston-Salem’s own Pam Grier, giving both of the programs full-season pickups with 21 and 19 episodes respectively. Bader plays the doting husband of Katie, the titular “Housewife” played by Kay Mixon, and Grier plays the sheriff in a small Nebraska town in “Mess.” In a statement announcing the new episodes, ABC Entertainment president Karey Burke praised both shows and their creative teams.

Meanwhile, cable channel Starz is developing a sequel to “Weeds,” the 2005-12 dark comedy that starred Mary-Louise Parker, another UNCSA alum. Parker is attached to star and executive produce the show,which would pick up ten years after the original, according to the Hollywood Reporter. The new series would look at how Nancy Botwin’s life has changed in an era when more and more states are legalizing marijuana.

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The 12th and final season of CBS’s hit sitcom “The Big Bang Theory” is now available on Blu-ray and DVD, bringing the long-running comedy to a satisfying conclusion as the nerdy characters adjust to the changes in their lives in recent years — a particular hardship for scene-stealing Sheldon (Jim Parsons), who likes comfortable familiarity but has to learn to embrace a “new normal” in his life and those around him. It’s sweet, at times poignant, and consistently funny to the end.

In addition to the final season, a hefty “Complete Series” limited-edition boxed set is also available, also on Blu or DVD, with all 12 seasons, the extras carried over from the original releases, and three exclusive featurettes not included in the individual season sets, in a package with a pop-up diorama of the characters and digital copies of each episode.

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