Alison Sweeney, an executive producer for the Hallmark Movies & Mysteries cable channel movie “Murder She Baked: Just Desserts,” faced a nightmare situation just two days before filming was scheduled to start. The star of the film was injured in a skiing accident, tearing her ACL, and needing crutches to get around.
The only problem was that Sweeney couldn’t get mad at the actor because she’s the film’s star who took the tumble.
“I was skiing with my family. I have skied since I was 4 years old and thought I was good at it,” Sweeney says. “But I took one wrong turn and it was over in an instant.”
The only thing Sweeney could think about as she laid face down in the snow was what was going to happen with the TV movie.
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By the time the production began, a solution had been found. The script was changed to include a dramatic fall for her character that put her on crutches. Sweeney calls the quick thinking to keep the production on schedule a “great team effort.”
The film is the latest in the “Murder She Baked” series based on the books by Joanne Fluke. This tale has Hannah Swensen (Sweeney) hosting the televised Hartland Flour Bake-Off in Eden Lake. The mystery begins when one judge is killed in a bizarre hit and run with a twist. It’s up to Swensen to keep the contest running while working with Detective Mike Kingston (Cameron Mathison) to solve the crime.
Even if Sweeney, the executive producer, had wanted to fire Sweeney, the actor, it would have been difficult. This is the fifth time Sweeney has played Swensen, so she has become very connected to the character.
“I have loved the role from the beginning. She’s this fish out of water on her own journey,” Sweeney says. “It’s been fun to carry this character through five stories where she can grow.
“Every movie has a mystery to solve, but there is also what is going on with her mom and the men in her life.”
Getting five chances to work on a character would seem like a lot if Sweeney hadn’t played Samantha Brady on the NBC daytime drama “Days of Our Lives” since 1993. The role earned her a Daytime Emmy Award nomination, four Soap Opera Digest Awards and a Fan Voted Daytime Emmy Award.
Even as the host of “The Biggest Loser,” the reality show moved at a rapid pace.
It took Sweeney time to adjust to the slower pace of making movies.
“I was surprised we could do a scene more than twice. So for me, I feel like there is so much time that it feels like a luxury. It’s still not second nature to me to ask for a second take,” Sweeney says.
She likes doing the movies because unlike her work on daytime, there’s a beginning, middle and end to each film. She never knew what arc her daytime role would take.
Sweeney was not familiar with Fluke’s books when she signed on to the first film. But she felt well-equipped to play the character because not only is she a baker and home cook (chicken curry is her best dish), she has always been a fan of mysteries. She grew up watching reruns of “Perry Mason” and reading “Nancy Drew” and “Hardy Boys” novels.
She’s been known to stay up until 4 a.m. reading. And even if the book is bad, Sweeney feels obligated to stay with it until the end. Sweeney’s also an author, having written three books including “Scared Scriptless” (Hachette Books).
Her passions made her determined the film versions of Fluke’s books would be as loyal to the original writing as possible.
“I wanted to keep the fans of the books happy while, as the producer, giving the audience something fun to watch,” Sweeney says. And, as the case with this film, deal with what happens when the star gets injured.
Murder She Baked: Just Desserts
- 9 p.m. Sunday, March 26, Hallmark Movies & Mysteries