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Preview of Atlanta-shot Hallmark film ‘The Lost Valentine’

Betty White, Jennifer Love Hewitt and Sean Faris in "The Lost Valentine." Photo: Erik Heinila/Courtesy of Hallmark/CBS

Betty White, Jennifer Love Hewitt and Sean Faris in "The Lost Valentine." Photo: Erik Heinila/Courtesy of Hallmark/CBS

Hallmark has made a name for itself with feel-good, tear-jerking films over the years both on its cable networks and when it has a bigger budget with bigger stars, CBS.

Atlanta is home to the latest Hallmark Hall of Fame drama “The Lost Valentine,” starring Jennifer Love Hewitt and legend Betty White. It airs Sunday at 8 p.m. on CBS.

Shot over 25 days last fall around metro Atlanta, the film features Hewitt as a TV newsmagazine host who is assigned a story about Caroline, played by Betty White. Caroline visits a train station every Valentine’s Day because it was the place where she last saw her husband during World War II six decades earlier. He was declared missing in the Phillippines.

Hewitt’s character, though dating someone else, falls for Caroline’s grandson, played by Sean Faris. She also helps Betty White’s character learn more about what happened to her husband. (This is White, known for her comedy, at her most earnest.)

“I’m a hopeless romantic at heart,” Hewitt said on set last fall. “I really loved that part of it. I liked the journey my character takes.”

White was reluctant to shoot out of town. But “I read the script,” she said, “and I was hooked.”

The movie is not set in a specific city or town. It’s not even clear if this was set in the North or the South. So Atlanta is not identified but camouflaged.

The coolest transformation is how they used the Atlanta Gold Dome interior. They turned it into Union Station, a convincingly quaint waiting area where Caroline’s younger self bids farewell to her husband. And later, it’s where she comes as Betty White to mourn her husband’s absence.

Governor Sonny Purdue stopped by to say hi during the shoot,  said Mark Cottrell, the locations manager. “All the crew members thanked him for the tax break,” which enabled Hallmark to shoot in Atlanta and provide them jobs here.

The film also turned a portion of the Chattahoochee River Park by Whitewater Creek into a burned-out Filipino village where Caroline’s husband  plays a World War II prisoner. It looks suitably convincing for what they needed to do.

Producers  spent nine days at a pretty home in Druid Hills, used as Caroline’s abode. Each afternoon, Cottrell said, neighbors would bring by their dogs and stand across the street. White, a big animal lover, would take a break from the shoot every day and cross the street to pet the dogs and take pictures. “She was terrific,” he said. “Very graciouis.”

They had to change the house three times: when it was a wreck right after the couple purchased the home in the early 1940s, after they fixed it up and present day. “We took all the shrubbery away,” he said. “We then re-sodded the whole yard, front and back, re-shrubbed and replanted. The owners were a little concerned at first but I think they took it well. When all was  said and done, the house was gorgeously repainted. Hallmark took care of the location.”

The home "Lost Valentine" used for the film in Druid Hills, along with the Snickers bar Betty White gave me last fall during the shoot. (I wasn't allowed to take photos of the actors at the time.) CREDIT: Rodney Ho

The home "Lost Valentine" used for the film in Druid Hills, along with the Snickers bar Betty White gave me last fall during the shoot. (I wasn't allowed to take photos of the actors at the time.) CREDIT: Rodney Ho

The other local scene set during World War II  is off Auburn Ave. area near Martin Luther King Jr.’s home because the homes still look as they did in the 1940s. I actually  saw part of that shoot as I drove by one day on my way to work.

One brief but touching scene, where the young Caroline bids her husband farewell forever at the exterior of the train station, was actually shot in Chattanooga.

TV PREVIEW

“The Lost Valentine,” 8 p.m. CBS, Sunday January 30

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By Rodney Ho, rho@ajc.com, AJCRadioTV blog

11 comments Add your comment

[...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Mimi Kelley and Rodney Ho, Atlanta Rio . Atlanta Rio said: Preview of Atlanta-shot Hallmark film ‘The Lost Valentine’: Betty White, Jennifer Love Hewitt and Sean Faris in … http://bit.ly/dZLj8s [...]

WAR EAGLE

January 28th, 2011
1:53 pm

Jennifer L. Hewitt is a gorgeous woman and a great actress-Ghost Whisperer, Garfield, etc. It would be an honor just to get her autograph or a picture with her.-Can you pull some strings, Mr. Ho?

JTesla

January 28th, 2011
2:13 pm

Great piece Rodney. Ahhh… Jennifer Love Hewitt.

Rick James!

January 29th, 2011
6:24 pm

Garfield? You actually watched Garfield? War Eagle, you REALLY need to get out more!

RIH

January 30th, 2011
10:45 pm

beautiful movie!

greg

January 30th, 2011
11:34 pm

lost valentine is a great movie . i have never been a fan of betty white in the roles she played. tonites lost valentine was finally bettys shining moment . date with the angels /santas helper was the 2 best roles betty has starred in. i hated golden girls, and her in mary tyler moore show . it was nice to see gil gerard in this movie also

greg

January 30th, 2011
11:36 pm

Enter your comments here

Linda

January 31st, 2011
12:03 pm

Lost Valentine was a fantastic movie. Going back and forth from really worked, it kept my attention throughout the whole movie. I loved Sean Faris, hope to see more of him. (He looks kind of like my grandson!) The acting all around was great. I am a big fan of Betty White. Jennifer Love Hewitt did a terrific job. (Don’t watch her on Ghost Whisperer, so this was my first time seeing her act.)

Valerie Cook

January 31st, 2011
12:12 pm

“The Lost Valentine” was one of the best programs I have seen on T.V. in a long time. All the actors were terrific, and the scenes were truly amazing. Being from Atlanta, I appreciate all that was done to make the movie so authentic, even more. I am telling everyone how great it was. And I will let them know when I see when it will be shown again.

Leon H. Brown

January 31st, 2011
3:27 pm

Thank you for the best show that has been on tv in many years, thanks to the stars for a most wounderful job very well done. We need more shows like that. Thank you all very very MUCH!!!

bdhh

February 1st, 2011
3:52 pm

I loved this movie it was absolutley adorable and quite a tear jerker. Great actors and actresses as well! Also does anybody know the name of the song played on the radio in the flashbacks that Cfarolyn and Neil would dance to I loved that song but I can’t seem to remember what it was?