Lifetime Reveals Casts for First LGBTQ, Asian-Centered Christmas Movies

Blake Lee and Ben Lewis
Rodin Eckenroth/Getty Images

Fran Drescher, Tzi Ma, Ellen Wong and more star in the upcoming holiday TV films.

One month after announcing two holiday films centered on a gay romance and an Asian American family, Lifetime is unveiling casts for both.

The Christmas Set Up, the network's first Christmas movie with a central LGBTQ storyline, will star real-life married couple Ben Lewis (Arrow) and Blake Lee (Fam). (See photo above.) Joining them in the feel-good holiday film will be Fran Drescher and Ellen Wong.

The film was written and directed by members of the LGBTQ community. Lifetime says it is working with GLAAD to ensure that the portrayals within the movie accurately represent the LGBTQ community. 

Additionally, Lifetime has cast Jacky Lai (V-Wars) and Tony Giroux (Motherland: Fort Salem) as the leads for its first Asian American-centric holiday movie, A Sugar & Spice Holiday. Legendary actor Tzi Ma, who is coming off the release of Mulan, has also boarded the film. 

Noah Asanias/Richie Lubaton

The movie features an Asian director (Jennifer Liao), writer (Eirene Donohue) and casting director (Judy Lee). The network is working with CAPE, also known as the Coalition of Asian Pacifics in Entertainment, an organization that champions diversity by educating, connecting and empowering Asian American and Pacific Islander artists and leaders in entertainment and media, during the process of making the film. 

The Christmas Set Up follows Hugo (Lewis), a New York corporate lawyer and his best friend, Madelyn (Wong), who head to Milwaukee to spend the holidays with his mom, Kate (Drescher), who is also in charge of the local Christmas celebrations. Ever the matchmaker, Kate arranges for Hugo to run into Patrick (Lee), Hugo’s high school friend and secret crush, who has recently returned after a successful stint in Silicon Valley. As they enjoy the local holiday festivities together, Hugo and Patrick’s attraction to each other is undeniable and it looks as though Kate’s well-intentioned Santa-style matchmaking is a success. But as Hugo receives word of a big promotion requiring a move to London, he must decide what is most important to him.

Centered on a Chinese American family, A Sugar & Spice Holiday follows Suzie (Lai), a rising young architect, who returns to her small hometown in Maine for Christmas, where her Chinese American family runs the local Lobster Bar. Following the loss of her beloved grandmother who was a legendary baker in their community, Suzie is guilted into following in her grandmother’s footsteps by entering the local gingerbread house competition. Teaming up with old high school friend Billy (Giroux), who grew up to be a catch, Suzie must find the right recipes and mix of sugar and spice to win the competition and perhaps find some love in the process.

Production on both movies begin this week.

These two films are among 30 original holiday offerings Lifetime will premiere this year as part of its annual "It's a Wonderful Life" programming slate, which kicks off Oct. 23. Other stars slated for Lifetime holiday films include Melissa Joan Hart, Jason Priestley and Tiffany Haddish, who serves as an executive producer.

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