Atlantis finds man to save ‘Christmas’

Project based on true story; thesp to play toy maker

“Seinfeld” alum Jason Alexander has found a new calling, as “The Man Who Saved Christmas.”

Alexander will topline the Alliance Atlantis telepic, which CBS will air during the holidays next season.

Based on a true story, the made-for follows the actions of a toy inventor (Alexander) who helps convince Congress not to cancel the Christmas holiday during WWI.

Alliance Atlantis toppers Peter Sussman and Ed Gernon (“Life With Judy Garland: Me and My Shadows,” “Joan of Arc”) will exec produce, along with Orly Adelson. Sturla Gunnarsson (“100 Days in the Jungle”) will direct the project, based on a script by Steve Hayes and Debra Frank (“Santa Who?”).

“The Man Who Saved Christmas” will start shooting in Toronto this August.

“It’s a classic Frank Capra kind of story, which happens to be true,” Gernon said of the project.

With “It’s a Wonderful Life” as inspiration, Gernon said he was looking for a contemporary Jimmy Stewart to take on the role of a father who doesn’t have a great relationship with his own father but eventually reconnects with the idea of what Christmas means.

“Jason is the kind of guy you want to see in roles like this,” Gernon said. “It’s dream casting for us. He’s an everyman that everyone can identify with.”

“The Man Who Saved Christmas” will rep one of Alexander’s first on-screen television roles since his short-lived ABC laffer “Bob Patterson.” Alexander more recently starred in the feature comedy “Shallow Hal” and played himself on “Seinfeld” creator Larry David’s HBO skein “Curb Your Enthusiasm.”

Besides his long stint as George Costanza, Alexander’s credits include the features “Love! Valor! Compassion!” and “Pretty Woman.” He also has a lucrative career as a voice actor, lending his larynx for animated features such as “The Hunchback of Notre Dame” as well as “Dilbert” and “Duckman” on the small screen.

Adelson’s other credits include telepics such as “The Perfect Mother,” “On Hostile Ground” and “A Chance of Snow.”

Gunnarsson’s resume includes “Rare Birds,” “Such a Long Journey” and the TV movies “Ricky Nelson: Original Teen Idol” and “Dangerous Evidence: The Lori Jackson Story.”

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