Actor Jonathan Bennett has declared himself the “king of gay Christmas” after producing and starring in Hallmark Channel’s “The Holiday Sitter” — the network’s first holiday romance centered around a same-sex couple — which debuts on Sunday evening.
Bennett, who made a name for himself starring opposite actress Lindsay Lohan in Tina Fey’s smash hit teen comedy “Mean Girls,” plays a hard-working bachelor who finds himself stuck babysitting his sister’s children over Christmas. Completely clueless about taking care of kids, he relies on the help of a handsome neighbor — after which one thing, apparently, leads to another.
GLAAD’s Anthony Allen Ramos actually coined the phrase, introducing Bennett as his guest in an interview shared via YouTube on Thursday.
“I’m so excited. Sam is, of course, played by — I’m just going to say it — the king of gay Christmas, Jonathan Bennett,” Ramos said, prompting laughter from Bennett. “I love it, how are you?”
“I mean — I love that title!” Bennett exclaimed. “I think I’m going to change that on my — on my Instagram right now. Jonathan Bennett, the king of gay Christmas! I’ll take it. I’ll take it.”
Bennett, who is openly gay and has been married to partner Jaymes Vaughan since earlier this year, went on to talk at length about how much he had enjoyed being with the film from start to finish as a story writer and producer. As an aside, he noted that perhaps his future might be in directing: “Maybe I should be a director one day because I feel like that’s what I love doing.”
Ramos turned the topic to Great American Family (GAF) actress Candace Cameron Bure, who recently sparked controversy when she said her move from Hallmark Channel was part of a plan to tell more faith-based stories that focused on traditional marriages. Actor Neal Bledsoe even followed her comments with an abrupt exit from GAF.
“I would imagine that when someone like Candace Cameron Bure says — you know, building off of what you just said — when she says, you know, ‘I only want to make stories that are about traditional families,'” Ramos said. “Obviously, Candace previously had a long history with Hallmark, now is doing her own thing at Great American Family — I would imagine that probably hurt you and probably hit pretty close to home with everything that you’re trying to do at Hallmark.”
Bennett declined to take the obvious bait, however, simply stating that he was happy with the direction Hallmark was taking with regard to bringing in more inclusive storylines — and adding that he couldn’t speak for what any other networks were doing.
“I can’t speak to what other people are doing on their network, but all I know is that I’m proud to be a part of Hallmark Channel. [They’re] making extremely huge strides in making sure that there is inclusivity in their programming to make sure that everyone feels like they have a seat at the holiday table,” he told Page Six.
“Hallmark Channel has done such a great job of making sure that everyone knows that Christmas is for everyone and that the Hallmark Channel is for everyone … and has created a safe place for queer filmmakers to tell stories.”