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It's Christmas at Trolley Square as ABC Family shoots movie musical

Published March 4, 2012 9:29 pm

ABC Family is shooting the movie musical "The Mistle-Tones" at the Salt Lake City mall.
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2012, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

It was looking a lot like Christmas at Trolley Square this week — and not just because of the new snow outside.

Despite it being March on the calendar, it was all holiday lights, trees and carols at the south end of the mall. The actors and crew of the ABC Family movie "The Mistle-Tones" were on site as production continued on a Christmas-movie musical that's scheduled to air in December.

It was either 2½ months late or 9½ months early, but the cast said they didn't have trouble getting into the holiday spirit. "I think the snow helps," said Tia Mowry ("Sister, Sister"), who stars as good-girl Holly in the TV movie about a competition between rival singing groups.

Both Mowry and Tori Spelling ("Beverly Hills, 90210"), who stars as mean-girl Marci, brought their families to town for the shoot. Spelling planned to stay a few more days after her part wrapped, as her 3- and 4-year-olds were excited by the snow. "They built a little snowman, and every day they walked outside and said, 'Is Frosty still alive?' " she said with a laugh.

The weather didn't altogether cooperate. There was no snow last week when they were shooting outdoor scenes, necessitating a faux-snow wonderland built in the Avenues. And this week's snow came when the production was shooting indoors. "But we're making it work," said executive producer Maggie Malina.

"The Mistle-Tones" is the latest in a long line of TV movies produced in Utah for Disney-owned cable networks. (ABC Family is a sister network to the Disney Channel.) "It just seemed like an ideal place to shoot a Christmas movie," Malina said. "Weather, locations, production resources. Disney has a great history of success here with musicals, so why not come back?"

The "Mistle-Tones" production has been at various spots in Salt Lake City and in Pleasant Grove. Production continues next week in Ogden and on stages in West Valley City.

"We're sort of getting around," Malina said. "This has been a very lovely, warm, welcoming place to shoot the film."

spierce@sltrib.com