By JUDY SLOANE
Front Row Features
HOLLYWOOD-It’s been quite a journey for actress, dancer, fitness guru Amanda Kloots, who stars in CBS’ new holiday movie “Fit for Christmas.” Two and a half years ago, on July 5, 2020, her husband, Broadway star Nick Cordero (“Bullets Over Broadway,”) died of Covid, which she painfully and courageously documented on Instagram.
She moved to Los Angeles to concentrate on her fitness business, was asked to be a co-host on the daytime talk show “The Talk,” was a contestant on “Dancing with the Stars,” and is now acting and executive producing “Fit for Christmas,” a concept she developed.
Amanda portrays Audrey, a Christmas-obsessed fitness instructor, teaching classes at her financially beleaguered community center in Mistletoe, Montana, when she meets Griffin (Paul Greene,) a charming businessman, who unbeknownst to her is planning to turn the property into a money-making resort.
Amanda’s co-star in the holiday special, Paul Greene, is no stranger to the Christmas genre. He’s starred in “Campfire Christmas,” “My Christmas Inn” and “Christmas CEO,” all for the Hallmark Channel.
Amanda and Paul were joined by Anna White, who wrote the screenplay for “Fit for Christmas,” as they talked to the TV Critics Association about their upcoming movie, which premieres Sunday, December 4th, 8 p.m. ET/PT on CBS and will be available to stream live and on demand on Paramount+.
Q: Amanda, did you co-write this with Anna?
Amanda Kloots: I didn’t co-write the movie. Anna is the writer of the movie. I co-created the idea and definitely helped conceptualize the entire movie, right up until we were filming.
Q: Anna, what was the process like for you working with Amanda and shepherding this idea that she had by writing it for the screen?
Anna White: It was great. Actually, I followed Amanda’s story and my heart went out to her. Then a mutual acquaintance said, “Hey, Amanda has a great idea for a Christmas movie. She needs a writer.” We had our first FaceTime [and] everything clicked. I thought it was a great idea because we hadn’t seen a fitness instructor Christmas movie yet. And if anyone was going to do it, it was going to be Amanda Kloots.
Then seeing her come alive on screen as the character was just [wonderful.] You will not believe that this is her first scripted movie/television role when you watch it, she was a natural. She was so present. No one’s surprised she has all these talents, but I’m excited for everyone to see her acting chops.
Kloots: I feel like I have met my creative soul mate with Anna White. I could not feel like a luckier human being. She is so funny, consistently creative, and on top of every idea and concept. Ever since we chatted on the phone, I think it was October in 2020, and I told her of this idea, it was like [the] stars aligned. I hope there’s so much more to come from us, because we’ve got a lot of ideas in the bank. I just love working with her.
Q: Paul how did this film differ from the other holiday movies you’ve starred in for the Hallmark Channel?
Paul Greene: What made this so different is working with Amanda, knowing that this was her first experience like this, that it just had this crackling newness and possibility to it that was really unique. It was very [improvisational,] in the moment, spontaneous and exciting.
Immediately, there was this chemistry and friendship between us, all of us actors, really, and especially between Amanda and myself. We were like long lost friends. And that translated really quickly into a feeling of having each other’s back in the scenes and improvising.
What was so unique, too, it was the first time I’ve had a writer on one of these Christmas movies, or even a romantic comedy like this, be on set all the way through, which was really special, because we went to her with all these really nuanced questions about character and where we were headed. It was cool.
Q: Amanda, when you were dancing on Broadway, did you say, “I want to be a producer some day and I want to star in a show that I’ve influenced?” Or was that just part of an evolution?
Kloots: It was a complete evolution. I can’t believe what I’m doing right now. I think when I look at my life and how much has changed, especially in the last three years, I moved to LA three years ago, and my sole job was my fitness business. And since then, in those three years, even just since joining “The Talk,” my life has completely changed.
Q: When the movie airs will you be able to sit down and enjoy it? Or do you watch to review yourself?
Greene: For me, I love to watch them. I haven’t seen this yet. I sometimes try to watch just little pieces, but never the whole thing so that it’s a good surprise. So I’m looking forward to watching it. I love the nostalgic feeling of Christmas movies. I’ve been a part of a lot of them and to get to do that for my job, and know that so many people are at home and they’re getting so much out of it, it’s a great feeling.
Kloots: Because I’m an executive producer on this film, I’ve already watched a lot of the cuts. So I do feel on December 4th [I can] finally put my producer hat off and just watch it and enjoy it. And I plan to live tweet that night as well and really celebrate the premiere of the movie and all the hard work that we all did.
Q: Any final thoughts about this film?
Kloots: I can’t believe that CBS were so generous in taking a chance on me and this concept and allowing this to come to fruition. I’m entirely grateful to them for doing this with me and having faith that I can act and that I can executive produce and create something. It’s amazing. I am constantly blown away by the idea of how life can change and how it can change so quickly, and how dreams can come true.