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'November Christmas': Sam Elliott, Karen Allen in Hallmark heartwarmer

HolidaysCelebritiesTelevisionSam ElliottCBS Corp.Sarah Paulson

Get the tissues out.

You'll need them -- and more than once -- for "November Christmas," a truly moving, superbly cast new CBS movie that does the Hallmark Hall of Fame tradition proud. Airing Sunday, Nov. 28, the drama stars Sam Elliott ("Mask") and Karen Allen ("Raiders of the Lost Ark") as a couple still dealing with a tragedy of their own when they come to the aid of a family newly relocated to their town.

John Corbett ("Sex and the City") and Sarah Paulson ("Deadwood") play parents hoping to enable their seriously ill daughter (Emily Alyn Lind) to celebrate the holidays early ... fearing she may not have much time left. Elliott's character sells pumpkins and Christmas trees, and he initially doesn't understand the couple's need for such items out of season. Once he does, he and his wife try to help them realize their dreams.

"It felt like it might work," Ellliott says of the film, based on a Greg Coppa short story and filmed by director Robert Harmon in Nova Scotia (where he also makes Tom Selleck's "Jesse Stone" movies for CBS). "I think it goes beyond a lot of Hallmark stuff," Elliott adds. "It's really a good piece. The story was certainly all there.

"This picture touched me. I had some friends who lost a kid who would have been about the age of our kid in the movie. The father is deceased now; he was a fireman, and he was someone I got very close to. I knew what that loss meant to him over the long haul. He was not verbal about it at all, but whenever it came up, it was really evident that he never got over it. The loss of a child is just not supposed to happen."

"November Christmas" struck a similar chord with actress Allen, and her leading men also proved to be big lures. "I've just adored Sam Elliott as an actor," she says, "and I find him really lovely. The same goes for John Corbett. They were already committed to the project, so that was an immediate thing that made me think, 'Ooh, I should read this script.'

"I thought it was a really beautiful story, then I had a talk with Robert Harmon, who seemed like the kind of director I would love to work with. It turned out to be true. He's a real actor's director, and from the moment we arrived, we worked on this to make it as rich and complex as possible. And Sarah Paulson and I became fast friends, so it was just a terrific experience."

Long married to actress Katharine Ross ("The Graduate"), Elliott often tackles action-driven fare instead, such as "Road House" and "Ghost Rider." He may not be seen on television often, but he's sure heard on it: His deep, unmistakable voice fuels ads for products from beef to (currently) trucks. "I've been very lucky," he says.

With "National Lampoon's Animal House" another big part of her screen history, Allen also has a professional life apart from acting. She operates a knitwear company from Great Barrington, Mass. (where she also runs a related shop), but she now hopes to be back in front of cameras more often.

"I created this design studio and store to get myself through the period when my son was in junior high and high school," Allen explains. "I felt it was important to find something creative that I could really get involved in. Now my son is living in New York, so this opportunity has opened back up for me to work (as an actress) more. I'm just putting my feet back in the water, and it feels really good."

Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
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