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As the Emmy award-winning producer of "The Christmas Box," "Santa and Pete" and "Miss Lettie and Me," ODU alumna Beth Polson knows a thing or two about Christmas.

Her new novel, "Secret Santa" (Atria Books), co-written with Robert Tate Miller, is being released this season as a contemporary classic tale and made-for-TV family movie that reminds us of the true nature of Christmas.

The inspirational holiday movie, which airs at 9 p.m. (ET) Sunday, Dec. 14, on NBC, will feature some of television's most familiar faces. Jennie Garth ("What I Like About You," "Beverly Hills 90210") will play the lead of Rebecca. Charlie Robinson ("Night Court, "Miss Lettie and Me") will play Russell and Barbara Billingsly ("Leave It to Beaver," "Airplane") has been cast in the role of Miss Ruthie.

Polson, a 1973 graduate of ODU, said she drew on her background as a writer at The Virginian-Pilot for the story, which follows reporter Rebecca Chandler from Indianapolis to nearby Hamden, Ind., to write a feature about the small town's Secret Santa, a benevolent stranger who appears mysteriously every Christmas Eve to bestow the perfect gift on some less-fortunate soul.

But instead of "wasting her time" on another sappy holiday tale, she sets out to unmask the charitable St. Nick, leaving him as the "bleeding heart do-gooder formerly known as Secret Santa."

Chandler didn't count on Hamden, though, home to a cast of lovable and quirky characters - and the most unlikely Secret Santa of them all. In her determination to uncover him and reveal her investigative skills, she learns that things are not always what they appear, and in the process finds love ... and the true meaning of Christmas.

Polson is the president of The Polson Co. She has worked for all the major networks and is the co-author of "Not My Kid" and "Go Toward the Light."

This article was posted on: December 11, 2003

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