Thanks to Mlive for this:

The “National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation” reunion is growing in Central New York.

Producers announced Monday that Brian Doyle-Murray is joining the cast of “The Christmas Letter,” a new holiday film that began shooting in Utica over the weekend.

Chevy Chase and Randy Quaid will also have roles; in 1989′s “Christmas Vacation,” Doyle-Murray played the boss of Chase’s Clark Griswold, kidnapped by Cousin Eddie (Quaid) after Clark complains about his Christmas bonus.

Angus Benfield, who is producing and starring in “The Christmas Letter,” said last week he was excited to have “Chevy and Randy reunited again on screen” with “a little bit of an homage to ‘Christmas Vacation.’” The 1989 film, written by John Hughes, is a holiday classic about a married father whose plans for a big family celebration turn into disaster with memorable scenes involving Christmas lights, sledding, and a squirrel.


“The Christmas Letter” will focus on an “everyday man who gets a Christmas letter every year from his (wealthier) friend” and decides to take his family on “wild, crazy adventures” for a whole year in an attempt to top his friend’s Christmas letter, according to director Tori Hunter.

National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation cool alternate poster

“It’s a holiday film that goes past the holidays,” Hunter explained. “I love that we get to go on a whole year of him searching for happiness and joy until he finds his true happiness… is right in front of him with his family.

Benfield, whose credits include “Inventing Anna,” “Yellow Bird” and “NCIS: Los Angeles,” will star as the “everyday Joe,” a character named Joe Michaels. Benfield is also producing the project through his company LAMA Entertainment.

It’s unclear what roles Chase, Quaid and Doyle-Murray will have in the new film.
The project will be Quaid’s first since 2018, according to his IMDb page. The Oscar-nominated actor had memorable roles in the “National Lampoon’s Vacation” franchise, “Independence Day,” “Kingpin,” “Freaked,” “Major League II,” “Brokeback Mountain” and the “Elvis” TV miniseries, but fled to Canada in 2010 while facing criminal charges in California over vandalized property at a home he once owned. Quaid was arrested in Vermont upon returning to the U.S. in 2015, but as of 2021 the case in California was reportedly still active.

Chase, 80, is an Emmy-winning actor who was an original cast member on “Saturday Night Live” and starred in “National Lampoon’s Vacation,” “Caddyshack,” “Fletch,” “Three Amigos,” “Community,” and the Syracuse-set “Snow Day.” He previously visited Syracuse in 2019 and Utica in 2021 for screenings of “National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation.”

Doyle-Murray, the older brother of Bill Murray, has appeared in more than 160 movies and TV shows, including “Groundhog Day,” “Caddyshack,” “Saturday Night Live,” “Wayne’s World,” “JFK,” “Scrooged,” “Veep” and “SpongeBob SquarePants.” Doyle-Murray also had a role in 1983′s “National Lampoon’s Vacation” alongside Chase and Quaid.

According to WKTV, “The Christmas Letter” is filming scenes throughout the Mohawk Valley, including at Utica City Hall and the historic Hotel Utica. Writer-producer Michael Cunningham, an Ilion native who now lives in the Rochester area, said there will also be shots of Utica’s Fort Schuyler Club and Valley View Golf Course, plus the Woods Valley ski area in Westernville.

Ntl Lampoon Christmas Vacation original script

Production began Saturday and is expected to last through the month of January 2024.

The project appears to be Hunter’s feature-length directorial debut. Hunter is a Georgia native who is currently based in Nashville, according to her website. Her IMDb credits include working as a script supervisor on 2019′s “Overcomer,” the 2020 Lifetime movie “A Welcome Home Christmas,” and the 2023 releases “Identity Crisis,” “The Great Turkey Town Miracle” (also starring Benfield), “Bringing Back Christmas” and “The Shift” (featuring Sean Astin and Syracuse University alumnus Neal McDonough).

A release date has not been announced for “The Christmas Letter,” but Cunningham told WKTV he hopes to do a movie premiere in Utica during the 2024 holiday season.

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