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Showgirls star Berkley shooting Christmas movie in city... in July

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Elizabeth Berkley, the star of the outrageous 1995 sex-melodrama Showgirls, is coming to Winnipeg next month.

For her fans, it will be like Christmas in July. Actually, it will be like Christmas in July for everybody affiliated with the movie. Berkley will be shooting a holiday movie, titled The Lucky Christmas, for America's Hallmark Channel, according to the film's Winnipeg producer Juliette Hagopian of Julijette Inc.

The film will also star Jason Gray-Stanford, best known as the luckless Lt. Randy Disher on the TV series Monk.

The film, to be directed by Gary Yates, is the latest in a series of seasonal movies to be shot in Winnipeg, including Beethoven's Christmas Adventure, starring Robert Picardo; The Christmas Hope, starring Madeleine Stowe and James Remar; and Holiday Switch, starring Nicole Eggert.

But where those movies shot in more wintry seasons, this film may face a challenge shooting in one of our hottest months. (Hagopian says the film will be utilizing lots of Christmas trees to pull off the seasonal illusion.)

Berkley first gained notice as the star of the tween series Saved by the Bell from 1989 to 1993, before her starring role as stripper Nomi Malone in the raunchy Paul Verhoeven film Showgirls ricocheted her career in a different direction. In the past few years, Berkley has appeared in continuing roles on both TV's The L Word and CSI Miami.

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Another movie will be shooting in July with local production company Original Pictures acting as a service provider for the American company Martin Chase Productions.

Original producer Kim Todd says the project is a direct-to-DVD movie based on the American Girl franchise, commencing its four-week shooting schedule July 11.

"We'll be casting locally as well as from outside (Winnipeg)," Todd says, adding the soundstage at the Manitoba Production Centre will be utilized.

American Girl produces both dolls and movies. Patricia Rozema directed Kit Kittredge: An American Girl for theatrical release in 2008, but four other American Girl movies have been released on DVD.

For the time being, the biggest star connected with the film may be producer Debra Martin Chase, whose impressive resumé as a producer includes The Princess Diaries and The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants.

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Another big production occupying Original Pictures partners Kim Todd and Nicholas Hirst is their upcoming wedding in Toronto. After 14 years of unwedded bliss, the couple are making it official June 25.

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Correction: In Saturday's paper, I had the wrong opening date for Cowboys & Aliens. It opens July 29, not June 29.

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition June 7, 2011 D3

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About Randall King

In a way, Randall King was born into the entertainment beat.

His dad was Winnipeg musician Jimmy King, a one-time columnist for the Winnipeg Free Press. One of his brothers is a playwright. Another is a singer-songwriter.

Randall has been content to cover the entertainment beat in one capacity or another since 1990.

His beat is film, and the job has placed him in the same room as diverse talents, from Martin Scorsese to Martin Short, from Julie Christie to Julia Styles. He has met three James Bonds (four if you count Woody Allen), and director Russ Meyer once told him: "I like your style."

He really likes his job.


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