Katie Lee Biegel will admit that her novel Groundwell getting the Hallmark movie treatment has been a “welcome surprise” since she released the book in 2011. The movie, premiering August 21 at 9pm on Hallmark Movies & Mysteries, stars Lacey Chabert AND Hector Rivera.
“When I first heard that Hallmark wanted to start production on the film, Lacey was the first person I thought of,” said Katie. HollywoodLife EXCLUSIVE. “I really wanted her for the part because I’m such a fan of hers. I think she’s so awesome in the Hallmark movies. I think this is like her 32nd Hallmark movie. She’s so good and so believable, and I think she’s a great actress. Hector really embodies Ben and the two of them, when you see them on screen together, have great chemistry.”
The film follows a chef named Emma, who travels to Hawaii after a personal and professional setback. During her stay, she meets Ben, a handsome and reclusive surf instructor whose lessons help her regain her footing.
The cooking show host serves as an executive producer and also makes a cameo in the film. “It was an unexpected surprise,” Katie admitted. “I was very excited when I was asked to do a cameo. I play myself so it wasn’t a real stretch of acting. I was a little nervous that I couldn’t remember my lines, but our director was great. She made me feel comfortable. I was probably my most nervous when I had to film a scene with Lacey and just talk to her one-on-one because a lot of it was me judging a cooking competition, so I felt like, hey, I can do it this. But when I had to give a bit that wasn’t just food criticism, I got a little nervous.”
On the pickup trip Groundswell on the TV screen, changes have been made. “It’s quite different in the movie version than the book version, but I loved that,” Katie noted. “I felt like my characters had taken on a new light and a new dimension. It’s fun to see how the screenwriter shapes my original story to make it suitable for a TV movie. I just love it. When I went to Hawaii, it was all fascinating moments throughout the day feeling like I couldn’t believe this was happening and watching it at all.”
When kitchen co-host saw the film for the first time, which brought tears to her eyes in the best way. “I cried. I was crying. I just felt like I couldn’t believe it actually happened,” Katie said HollywoodLife. “It was honestly a dream come true, and when they do the last line of the movie — I won’t say what it means to spoil it for anyone — but it just brought me to tears. I’m in awe of the whole thing.”
The movie features a variety of amazing food dishes. Katie had the opportunity to reunite with one Chief Executive alum in Groundwell. “I talked to the writers about different dishes to feature and then my co-judge on the cooking competition scenes. Lee Anne Wong from senior chef,,” Katie revealed. “I know Lee Anne from years ago when we were in the first season of Chief Executive together. So when it came time to cast my judge, I immediately thought of Lee Anne, since she lives in Hawaii. So we cast her in that role and Lee Anne actually stepped in and did a lot of food styling for the film. She’s such a talented designer, so she came in and styled the plates that were Lacey’s and made them look phenomenal.”
When she sees her book come to life on TV, Katie hopes viewers take away that “you always have the power within you. You just have to find it. It’s always there. Surfing is really a metaphor for that and learning to pick yourself up.” to see that you have that chain that ties your ankles to the board, so if you fall, you can pull yourself back up. I think it’s about how sometimes losing everything you thought you wanted is exactly how you find what you need.”
Katie has published several cookbooks over the years, but Groundswell remains her only fiction novel. She said HollywoodLife that she “would like to write another novel or a screenplay. This is something I really hope to do in the end. I feel like my brain cells aren’t all there after having the baby running around. I haven’t been able to create another story, but maybe once she starts school, I can write a novel again.”