Zizi Shalabi


A Short Treatment for a Hallmark Channel Movie Set in Highland Park Village

Can you think of a more obvious setting for such a thing?

Anna Lewis is a single thirtysomething corporate litigator at a downtown Dallas law firm. Despite her relative youth, Anna is a monster in the courtroom. The very sight of her Theory power suits and Bachelorette-inspired ringlets induces fear in opposing counsel. And yet she dreams of trading her briefcase for batter and opening a gingerbread shop in Highland Park Village. She has the (baked) goods: her dying grandmother’s gingerbread recipe. Only one thing stands in the way of her dream: she has no talent.

Darren Sinclair is a single thirtysomething former Ralph Lauren model who has recently relocated to Dallas. He excels at making gingerbread mansions. He is Anna’s stepbrother, and while the two do not get along, he agrees to teach Anna how to build the perfect gingerbread house at the behest of the dying grandmother.

Ray Washburne is a sixtysomething very tan, very rich man who wears bespoke suits, a top hat, and a monocle. As a successful businessman and the owner of Highland Park Village, he is well aware of how profitable a gingerbread bakery will be. He proposes offering a lease and $50,000 in seed capital to the winner of the world-famous Annual Gingerbread House Contest.

Opening Scene

After winning another case, Anna exits the courthouse on a snowy day. She notices a sign for the upcoming Annual Gingerbread House Contest. As people stream out of the building, Anna comes to a stop and decides right then and there to trade her suits and sensible heels for cozy Christmas sweaters. She tosses her briefcase to her co-counsel and tells him that she’s adjourning her legal career indefinitely to win that contest.

Co-Counsel: “Oh, snap!”

Anna: “You mean: oh, ginger snap!”

First Act

The lessons begin in Anna’s cozy, lodgelike UP kitchen, which is outfitted with retro-style cherry red Big Chill appliances. The relationship is frosty at first—conveyed by the number of layers Darren and Anna wear. (Even though they’re inside, both wear The North Face pom-pom hats.) Eventually, the instruction goes Ghost-style (substitute gingerbread for clay and “All I Want for Christmas Is You” for “Unchained Melody”), and things heat up. As the lesson progresses, Darren works shirtless, and Anna wears a camisole.

Darren: “Are you ready to score?”

Anna: “You’re my brother!”

Darren: “Stepbrother. And I meant are you ready to make marks on the gingerbread with a knife?”

Second Act

As good as Darren is at baking and building gingerbread houses, he’s that bad at day trading. All the Ralph Lauren money is gone. He needs cash fast—the monthly payment on his G-wagen is coming due—and there’s only one way to get that cash: win the Annual Gingerbread House Contest. He confesses to Anna after entering. Unmoved by Darren’s plight, she declares war. The two stand nose to flour-sprinkled nose, glaring at each other.

Anna: (à la Clint Eastwood) “Bake my day.”

Darren: “You’re all bark, and your dough bites.”

Third Act

It’s the day of the contest. Darren and Anna scowl at each other from opposite ends of the Park Cities Hilton. After the referee fires a gun, the two get to work. Icing splatters, candy scatters, and gingerbread snaps. The bakers present their creations to the judges. Darren’s is a Gehry-inspired masterpiece; Anna’s is not. Ray announces that Darren has won. Darren takes the mic and says that he’ll take the money, and his business partner, Anna, will sign the lease. Darren calls Anna to the stage; they hug and kiss. The last shot is the duo standing in front of their shop, The Gingerbread Clan.

Anna and Darren: “Let’s go make some dough!”

Write to [email protected].


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