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Antonio Fargas   ('Silver Bells') Antonio Fargas ('Silver Bells')

'It's All About the Hugs!'

'Silver Bells' is a Christmas movie about a veteran sports anchor, Bruce Dalton (Bruce Boxleitner, 'Babylon 5'), lives life “for the win.” But, to his family, friends and those around him, that’s not always a positive thing. After getting into a brawl with a referee at his son’s basketball game, Dalton is sentenced to community service as a Salvation Army bell ringer during the Christmas season.

Taken under his wing by Major Melvin Lowell (Antonio Fargas, 'Starsky & Hutch') his approach to raising donations and filling food baskets is much like another game to be won. So, things quickly go south. Will Dalton learn that life isn’t a win or lose game, but a sport best played as a team? Dalton’s job and relationship with his family hang on that very question.

'Silver Bells' stars: Bruce Boxleiter, Kevin Downes, Kenton Duty, Antonio Fargas, and Bridgett Newton.

Chatting recently with "Huggy Bear" himself Antonio Fargas, I first wondered being that this was a simple morality tale, how could it rise above the others of such an ilk? "Well, I think 'Silver Bells' has some of the traditional themes within it about redemption, Christmas and family ... and it reminds me of 'A Christmas Carol.' Because our main character goes through a process also. My character Major Lowell brings him to do community service the night before Christmas where he finally gets it. So it will resonate with people all over, but I think it also gives them a reminder that it is connected to 'A Christmas Carol'."

"It is definitely a feel good story about a guy who seems to always have it his own way and doesn't realize his family is suffering because he's so driven by doing a good job. So it helps him by having to do this community service and get religion and spirit back into his life. So yeah, for me it's an update for today of 'A Christmas Carol'."

Funnily enough, Bruce Boxleitner referenced 'It's A Wonderful Life' by Frank Capra as a way to look at the story. Which then made you, as he put it, his very own "Clarence"! How do you feel about that? "Did he," he laughs. "Well, it definitely has some Scrooge in there too and the Spirits of Christmas all wrapped into one."

Please sum up your character, Major Melvin Lowell "I think people that go into services like the Salvation Army have an altruistic view and a spirit of giving. It's almost like a teaching aspect. And they know that with just a little bit of giving they may affect change in someone's life. So for me, the whole idea from my perspective of people in the Salvation Army was that it was Christmas time and someone ringing a bell outside the stores. Just putting themselves out there, like Jehovah Witnesses on the corner. Just standing there and being an example of service."

"Also, Major Lowell has his own very strong, supportive family. So for him to see Bruce Dalton and his family coming apart but knowing he could do something to bring his family together he knows what he has to do. It's a very satisfying role to play as I age as an actor, as a person that I have this experience that I can pass on to others."

Indeed, it seems like "Huggy Bear" saves the day, once again! "Right," he gently laughs, "it seems like I can't get away from Huggy Bear because Huggy Bear always gave assistance. He was a connector who much like Major Lowell here was always about the spirit of giving. It was a wonderful role for me working here with a superlative actor. I've been doing this for a long, long time and so we were two seasoned veterans going through an experience; on camera and off camera. And then also with his family, of course."

So what was it like working with on this small set, in this small town of Manatee, MI in the cold? "We all just seemed so natural together, even though we were so isolated in this world. In the cold of the location. They had to transform the whole street where we were into looking like Christmas," he laughs. "We filmed it in Upper Michigan in March of this year. The snow was starting to melt, but it was very cold and it started to get warm. So we had to whip up the snow that we had with some artificial snow."

Bruce said that going back and forth to the set in the car you were both talking about and even singing old time rock, blues and country songs together! Who were some of those favorite artists that you guys were reminiscing about back then? "I'm an African-American who's very much into rock and roll, gospel, and blues so my songs are very eclectic that have collected in my mind. I did a Survivor-type of show in England called I'm A Celebrity, Get Me Out Of Here! set in the jungle and it reminded me at the time of being on the set with Bruce. I constantly have songs that will come into my head and remind me of the situation we were going through. And so we would reminisce and have a good time."

"One time we were traveling from the airport to our location in the snow and we had to drive slowly down the middle of the road! So just to keep ourselves going we sang a lot of songs. Music was a big, big part of my life and it was a part of his too so it was kind of a connector for us."

And finally, as we ask everyone this same question, we here at Excusive Magazine love Penguins. Do you have any love for them also, perhaps? "I love nature and every time I see a documentary on the Antarctic and where the Penguins are I just marvel at the variety of them. And also my favorite is how they launch themselves from the sea onto the ice. How they slide and then stand up and start walking off. That's a thrill and a vision for me."

I'm so glad Huggy Bear loves Penguins! That's made my day! "Yeah, I love Penguins because I love clothes. They always wear nature's tuxedos so they are always so classic, so neat."

Interviewed by Russell A. Trunk

UP TV presents the television premiere of 'Silver Bells' on Sunday, December 1st at 7pm, 9pm and 11pm ET.

Blu ray 'Silver Bells' Purchase Link

'Silver Bells' Official Trailer

www.uptv.com

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