[Warning: General spoilers ahead.]
Paul Campbell reunites with The Last Bridesmaid co-star Rachel Boston Saturday night on Hallmark Channel and W Network for Dating the Delaneys, a multigenerational romcom about Michael and Maggie, two longtime friends who tentatively lean toward romance. Allan Harmon directs a script by Jennifer Barrow.
In the film, Michael is widowed and Maggie is divorced, and their sons are classmates together. Maggie also knew Michael’s late wife, so they have a friendship that predates each of them being single. When Maggie’s ex-husband, David (Brendon Zub), announces he’s remarrying, it’s just the nudge she needs to move forward.
Michael hasn’t considered dating yet, but when Maggie says she’s ready, he throws out the idea of them going on a pretend date as practice. Then he offers his PR skills to help her prep for a baking show that would take her bake shop to the next level with national exposure. And you can connect the dots from there. Alongside that, we see Maggie’s mom, Barb (Karen Kruper) and daughter, Emma (Zoe Christie), navigate new romances. Earlier this week, I spoke with Campbell about the film, his growing roster of written-by credits, and his dream Hallmark project.
He and Boston last worked together in 2019, and reteaming for the new film was easy, as joyful for them to play as it is for us to watch. “Rachel and I joked that this movie almost felt like a continuation of The Last Bridesmaid because we pick up at this place in our lives where we’ve both experienced love and lost it. She’s a divorcee and I’m a widower and we have teenage children now. And we’re both looking for love at later stages in our lives,” he explains.
“The energy between us was the same. We work really well together on camera. It’s just easy. And one of the beautiful things about this project was that the network had given us a lot of leeway to improvise, in a sense, and add little things that we wanted.”
“I’m constantly trying to find ways to make my co-stars laugh organically. I always have just a basket of jokes that I want to pull out, and things I want to try to get that organic reaction in the moment. And so I felt real freedom to just play, and we do that really well. Being able to go in and play and find new things is so fun. And I think we came up with something pretty special.”
“The scene that I liked the best was the sequence when I go up to pick her up for our first pretend date and I’m a little uncertain. They’re both out of practice, and I wanted to play [it so that] he’s just a little off his game and wanting to do well. This is still his friend, but it was a little awkward and we were really talking over each other and being playful and a little nerdy and the sequence of getting from her door to the car, I just really liked it. There was something really sweet and innocent and fun about that scene.”
“My favorite line that I added in the movie is when we’re baking, and she’s showing me how to make some cookies and suddenly the lights go out. She’s about to tell me her secret ingredient and the lights go out, and I ask if the secret ingredient is darkness. That was my favorite because when I tried it, I got the biggest laugh and that’s exactly what I wanted in that moment.”
Campbell loved getting to play a more grounded love story. “It’s such a different way of telling that love story because all of the insecurities, all of those, the big questions that we often find are sort of the driving force behind the conflict in these love stories [don’t] exist in this movie,” he explains.
“We find ourselves completely comfortable in our own skin. We know exactly what we want. What you’re looking for is compatibility, and all of the pretenses are gone. You are able to see yourself and see if it’s a fit. And so this anxiousness of the love story was not present. It was so nice to just be [able to say], ‘This is me, this is who I am. I exist in this space. If it works, it works. And if it doesn’t, that’s okay, I’ll find somebody that does want me.’ It was so fun to play in that space.”
It’s becoming a thing that several of the Hallmark family frequently pop up in cameos, and on top of his cameo in The Nine Kittens of Christmas opposite pal Kimberley Sustad was a very funny, surprise appearance in Love, Classified as the bartender who becomes a sounding board for Melora Hardin’s character.
“I did Holiday Hearts years ago with Ashley Williams and her husband Neal Dodson, has done a lot of independent stuff. He’s done some big movies for Netflix. He’s gotten into producing some Hallmark stuff and he happened to jump into that movie,” he recalls.
“He called me and said, ‘Hey, we need a bartender. He’s gotta be kind of cheeky, kind of sarcastic. We just need somebody that can be confident in that scene with our leading lady. Do you want to come in and do a day?’ And I said, ‘Yep I’ll be there.’ So I got on the helicopter over to Vancouver island, had a great little helicopter ride, and spent a day just playing around on set and it was so fun.”
“Anytime I get an opportunity to go and do something like that, I just jump at it. Why wouldn’t I go and play? I want to do cameos in all the movies. I just want be in all the movies. It’s not, ‘Where’s Waldo?’ It’s ‘Where’s Pauldo?'”
Campbell has also branched into writing scripts for Crown Media, most recently with Moriah’s Lighthouse, which was actually the first project he sold to them. He initially got into screenwriting when he developed some projects with Canadian network CTV, including a comedy series concept that was bought but didn’t air, and then expressed an interest in writing for Hallmark while working on Sun, Sand & Romance.
“[I realized] I really like this. And I had been talking with Elizabeth Yost, who’s one of the senior VPs over at Hallmark, about possibly developing some stuff. And then in 2017 I had pitched her something and she [passed] and said they were looking for more seasonal stuff. So I sat down and just banged out this idea for Sun, Sand & Romance.”
“I sent it in and she [said], ‘Oh, that’s really cute. Let me, let me sit with this,’ and then six months later, I got an email that they were going to make it. They hired some writers and I was so excited and went through that process with her. I had a really specific idea in mind for the voice of my character, and the writers weren’t really nailing it. A week before shooting, I asked [if I could] take the script and do the dialogue. She said, ‘Yeah, let’s see what you got.’ So I rewrote all of my dialogue and handed it back in and so we made the movie and it turned out well.”
“And then I didn’t really move forward with anything until I worked with Kimberley Sustad on A Godwink Christmas. She said, ‘I have an idea for a fun movie.’ And she pitched the basic idea for Christmas by Starlight. And I said, ‘Let’s just write the script.’ So we did. We spent six months writing that script and sent it into the top brass at Hallmark and they ‘Yeah, we’ll buy this. We’ll make this.’ And that was it. We made it and then Hallmark started sending me stuff to work on and rewrite and it’s just evolved from there.”
“I have no formal training but I’m obsessive about it. I finally see my pattern here. The first draft is always like a lump of clay, like the high school draft. It’s fun, but it’s not super deep and intelligent. It’s high school. And then the second draft is always college, where you get a little weird. You experiment with some things and go a little sideways. I always overcorrect on the second draft. And then the third one is this grown-up draft with the wisdom of a grown-up and being able to look back at high school and college and say, ‘Okay, here’s what I’d do differently.'”
“And the third one is always the draft that works out, but it’s a four-to-five-month process for me to write a script. It just takes a long time. Some writers can write them in three weeks or a month. It takes me four. And to really get the dialogue in the place that I want, and all the story pieces, it’s a longer process, but I just work, work, work, work until I’m happy with it. And it seems to be going well.”
“There’s a slight level of difficulty that’s added with writing the holiday ones because the network really wants to feel Christmas everywhere in the movie and they have these things that people really look for, Christmasy activities and traditions and things like that. Sometimes it can be a blessing and sometimes, these characters are telling a story for two acts that doesn’t involve baking cookies or something like that. And it’s hard to try and constantly pull your characters back into the world of being Christmasy.”
“What I really like about the writing is the structure for Hallmark. I like the act structure. I have a certain number of pages. I like the puzzle of fitting all the pieces in. In terms of the way that I tell the story or who the characters are and how they develop, it doesn’t really matter if it’s seasonal or not. There’s a little more freedom outside of Christmas. But otherwise, storytelling is storytelling. I’d like to do a Knives Out-style whodunnit [for Hallmark Movies & Mysteries].”
“My dream, dream, dream would be to assemble an all-star cast for a one-off special event, like set it up at a resort or on a cruise ship, get everybody in one place. That’s wildly ambitious. I don’t know if that’s something the network’s even interested in, but I would love to attempt something like that, because I love the puzzle pieces.”
“That would be such an incredible challenge. I was trying to convince the [network] to do an award show [called] ‘The Hallies’ and just have a one-hour evening event award show during one of the big fancy critics events, steal everybody for an hour and do the Hallmark awards and then air that as its own special.”
When we chatted, Campbell had just returned from his first Christmas Con, an experience he found extraordinary. “It was so much fun. It was exhausting because you are on for eight hours, but it’s a thousand points of light coming at you at every moment, every corner you turn. The most surprising thing to me was just how deeply impactful these movies are to people from all over the world,” he shares.
“That was the story that kept coming to me over and over and over was the healing power of these movies. It’s a very real thing. A lot of these people that I met had turned to Hallmark Channel for the healing power of these movies that are positive and joyful and optimistic. [They] had undergone surgeries or were suffering illnesses, or even just with this pandemic, had just felt this massive life shift and turned to Hallmark for that sense of healing.”
“And it really gave me a completely different perspective on the work that I do and a different sense of value for all of it. I’ve always really loved my work for me, but seeing how it impacts the fans, I [realized] we really are doing this as much for the fans of these movies as we are for our own enjoyment. It was pretty eye opening.”
Dating the Delaneys premieres Saturday at 8 pm/7c on Hallmark Channel in the US and W Network in Canada, and Campbelle expects to live-Tweet the west coat airing. Here’s a sneak peek, and his live chat with Rachel Boston from this afternoon.
Photos and video courtesy of Crown Media.
This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.
Spencer Creaghan Talks About Creating SurrealEstate’s Signature Sound
SurrealEstate is winding down its second season, with two episodes left, and just as in Season 1, Spencer Creaghan’s music continues to be a character unto itself. And every week, he shares tidbits with the fans via his s social media channels, something he started to help give them an…
Andrew Walker Talks Christmas Island and the Magical Hallmark Community
[Warning: Spoilers for Christmas Island.] Now that the Screen Actors Guild strike has been resolved, we’re able to resume regularly scheduled programming and interview our favorites and yours. Up first, earlier today, I spoke with Andrew Walker about Christmas Island, which premiered last weekend and encores tonight and through the…
George Olson and Danishka Esterhazy Talk SurrealEstate “I Put a Spell on You”
[Warning: Spoilers for the episode.] Tonight’s fun new SurrealEstate found Luke caught up in an especially bewitching woman, Kay, played by Tara Yelland, Susan trapped in her house, and Zooey learning the ropes. In the next part of my conversation with showrunner George R. Olson and producing director Danishka Esterhazy,…
Danishka Esterhazy Talks SurrealEstate: “The Butler Didn’t”
[Warning: General spoilers for the episode]. Tonight’s new SurrealEstate, “The Butler Didn’t,” follows the team as they investigate the years-earlier mysterious death of a woman whose ghost now reenacts her hanging by dropping over the banister from the second floor to terrify anyone on the landing or at the bottom…
Scott McCord and Elizabeth Saunders Talk the From Season 2 finale
[Warning: Spoilers for the season finale.] How’s everyone doing after that finale? While we wait and wonder and hope for a third season announcement, soon, here’s what Scott McCord and Elizabeth Saunders had to say about their parts of the finale, and where they hope they get to go next….
Scott McCord and Elizabeth Saunders Talk From Season 2 + A Season Finale Preview
[Warning: General spoilers ahead.] It all comes down this, #FROMily. As Sunday’s episode wraps up Season 2, we begin with the aftermath of the terrifying onset of seemingly simultaneous attacks on Julie, Marielle, and Randall, which accelerate the “We gotta get out of this place” of it all. Sara comes…
Alison Sweeney Talks About What’s Next for Hannah and Mike After Carrot Cake Murder: A Hannah Swensen Mystery
[Warning: Spoilers for Carrot Cake Murder.] Everybody OK after that Hannah Swensen Mystery twist? Thankfully, our favorite crime-solving couple is still on speaking term, even if they’re on a break (hopefully not that kind of break). Most importantly, we already know this isn’t the last film in the series. No…
Counting Down to From Season 2
[Warning: General spoilers ahead.] We’re just shy of two weeks away from Season 2 of last spring’s obsession, From, which premieres at 9 pm/8c, Sunday, April 23rd, on MGM+ (formerly EPIX). If you never picked it up last year, now’s your chance, and you can do it for free, catching…
Thank Me Later: Will Trent
[Warning: spoilers ahead.] I’m on record as loving and losing shows over at ABC so I’m usually very reticent to pick something up on the network until it’s been renewed, and I seriously hope I’m not jinxing it, but I took a chance on the deeply odd and very sweet…
Dennis Heaton Talks The Imperfects
Longtime readers at TV Goodness will know that Motive is one of my ride-or-die series, and as such, I am fiercely loyal to its creator, Dennis Heaton. He followed up that fantastic reverse procedural with Netflix’s The Order and is back on our streaming screens with The Imperfects, which dropped…
What They Said: Three Revealing Conversations from Survivor’s Remorse “Closure”
WARNING: Spoilers for Survivor’s Remorse “Closure” The latest episode of Starz’s Survivor’s Remorse featured conversations that showed characters really digging deep into their thoughts, emotions and motivations.
Two Takes: The Catch “The Knock-Off”
Who can you trust? If this episode of The Catch was any indication, the answer is just about nobody. Betrayal was running rampant as Felicity (Shivani Ghai) arose from the dead to seduce-con Margot, Gretchen (Maria Thayer, Gotham, The Mindy Project) played gold-hearted Alice 2.0 before swindling Ethan, Tessa jumped…
What They Said: Top 3 Quotable Moments from Preacher “El Valero”
Both Quincannon and Jesse refuse to give up on what they each think is rightfully theirs. While Jesse is struggling to face the consequences of his actions, Quincannon has laid his past demons to rest and is hellbent on moving forward and putting Annville on the map again. Despite a…
What They Said: Favorite Quotes from Supergirl “Worlds Finest”
Oh, Supergirl. That ending was cold. But I can’t hate on you because the latest episode has quickly become one of my favorites.
What They Said: Top 4 Quotable Moments from Black Sails “XXIII”
The dialogue in “XXIII” is phenomenal. It’s always a fun ride when Black Sails carries its viewers along without giving them the chance to catch their breath. When an episode moves at this unforgiving pace, there is no chance for a breather nor is there a respite from the information…
What Lucifer Said: Favorite quotes from Supernatural “O Brother, Where Art Thou?”
Supernatural episodes are almost always funny but thanks to the dialogue and a certain man speaking said dialogue, I laughed a lot during “O Brother, Where Art Thou?” You know, when I wasn’t busy fearing for Sam’s life or wondering what in the world was going on with Dean and…
What They Said: The Flash, “Legends Of Today” and Arrow, “Legends Of Yesterday”
Two nights of Arrow +Â The Flash = what more could we ask for?! I don’t know what it is about blending these shows, but I canâ€™t help but feel that every time they come together, they somehow become greater than the sum of their parts. And thatâ€™s saying a lot…
What they Said: Top 4 Quotable Moments from Graceland “Little Bo Bleep”
Shoot outs. Fake outs. And long-awaited revelations. “Little Bo Bleep” was a jam-packed episode that wrapped up some loose ends and totally frayed others. Â It finally gave us one Sarkissian in jail and pulled back the curtain on Briggs’ master plan, but it also set up Jakes for a world…
What They Said: Favorite Quotes from Poldark “Part 4”
â€œWhat have I told you, I don’t require my wife to crochet and sip tea, but I do require her to remember she’s not a beast of burden.â€ No, Iâ€™m not talking about The Rolling Stones! I have to admit though, just for a second, the lyrics popped into my…
3 Moments of Goodness from Brooklyn Nine-Nine “Johnny and Dora”
The most satisfying part of this season’s finale has to the Jake and Amy kiss. Well, they kiss three times but the last one is the best one — and it means something. The Charles and Rosa dynamic was also great. I love how she’s convinced he doesn’t know anything…