Real-Life Couple Ben Lewis, Blake Lee to Star in Lifetime’s First-Ever Gay Romance Christmas Movie

Jacky Lai, Tony Giroux and Tzi Ma to lead “A Sugar & Spice Holiday,” network’s first movie centered on Asian-American family

ben lewis blake lee
Luke Fontana

Lifetime has cast married actors Ben Lewis (“Arrow,” “The Handmaid’s Tale”) and Blake Lee (“Fam,” “Parks and Recreation”) as the stars of “The Christmas Setup,” the network’s first-ever holiday movie centered on a gay romance.

Additionally, the cable channel has set Jacky Lai (“V-Wars”), Tony Giroux (“Motherland: Fort Salem”) and Tzi Ma (“Mulan”) as the leads of “A Sugar & Spice Holiday,” Lifetime’s first film focused on an Asian-American family and and featuring an Asian director, writer, casting director and cast.

Described as a “feel-good LGBTQ holiday romance,” “The Christmas Setup” was set as part of Lifetime’s lineup of holiday movies for the season, which begin airing Oct. 23, last month. The movie follows New York lawyer Hugo (Lewis), who heads to Milwaukee with his best friend Madelyn (Ellen Wong) to spend the holidays with his mom Kate (Fran Drescher), who is also in charge of the local Christmas celebrations.

Per Lifetime, “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 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.”

“The Christmas Setup” is written by Michael J. Murray and executive produced by Danielle von Zerneck, Larry Grimaldi, Hannah Pillemer, Fernando Szew, Suzanne Berger and Arnie Zipursky, with Pat Mills directing.  The movie is produced by Neshama Entertainment in association with MarVista Entertainment and Wishing Floor Films.

Lifetime says it is “working closely” with GLAAD to “ensure the movie represents the LGBTQ community sensitively and accurately.”

“A Sugar & Spice Holiday” tells the story of a Chinese-American woman who draws on her family’s cultural traditions to spice up an old-fashioned Christmas baking competition.

Per Lifetime, the movie “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 an 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.”

“A Sugar & Spice Holiday” is written by Eirene Donohue and directed by Jennifer Liao. The film is executive produced by Nancy Bennett, Shawn Williamson and Jamie Goehring, with Judy Lee serving as casting director. The movie hails from  Lighthouse Pictures.

Lifetime says it is working with CAPE (Coalition of Asian Pacifics in Entertainment) for the film.


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