Press Clippings

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Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, December 18, 2005

" Mr. Christmas is True Gift "







Jen Celene Little (from left), Ireland Rose Maddox, Abigail Kinslow
and Jace McLean are shown making Christmas tree ornaments in
a scene set in 1941 Eureka Springs in Beth Brickell's Mr. Christmas.

by Michael Storey, TV Critic

It's always a delight when we are treated to anything from Arkansas native Beth Brickell.

Brickell, 64, may be familiar to vintage viewers for her two seasons with Dennis Weaver on CBS' Gentle Ben from 1967-69, but the Camden-born actor/producer/director has also appeared in more than 25 plays and 100 TV series and movies.

She has taught acting in New York and Los Angeles and has a Master of Fine Arts degree in directing and screen writing.

The busy Brickell divides her time between Beverly Hills and a 103-acre spread west of Little Rock.  

More importantly for the moment is what Brickell was doing in February and March of 2004.  She was busy in Eureka Springs filming Mr. Christmas, an hour-long family movie that she wrote, produced and directed.

The film will air on AETN at 7 p.m. Monday and again at 2 p.m. Christmas day.  It's rated G, so gather the entire family and the family pooch to enjoy this one.

The DVD ($14.98) is available at the usual video store outlets, including Wal-Mart and from Brickell's Website,

Eric Harrison, the paper's DVD critic, reviewed an advanced copy, awarded it a B+ and called it "a Christmas present for Arkansans."

The film uses lots of local actors and reproductions of the Arkansas Gazette and takes viewers back to the Eureka Springs of the '40s.  That wasn't all that difficult for the Victorian gem of the Ozarks.

The tale concerns Joel and Julia, a young couple trying to make ends meet on Christmas Eve in 1941.  Money is tight at the end of the Depression and there certainly is not enough for that shiny new bicycle on which their older daughter has her heart set.

Not being able to buy his family nicer things sends Joel into a holiday funk.  The wife is carping, the daughter sulking and the expected Christmas bonus is a no-show.

Jace McLean stars as the father and Jen Celene Little is the mother.  They are from Los Angeles and New York respectively.   Eureka Springs' Ireland Rose Maddox (who steals the show) and Bella Vista's Abigail Kinslow portray their daughters.

"The story has a surprise, uplifting ending that is guaranteed to put anyone of any age in the Christmas spirit," Brickell said.

I won't spoil the ending other than to say it involves a hobo.

So, gather the clan, relax and enjoy your Christmas present from Beth Brickell.  Also, see if you can spot anyone you know or places you've been in Eureka Springs, especially the shops on Spring Street and houses on Elk, White and Ridgeway streets.


Mr. Christmas Home

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