Jane Levy talks Zoey’s Extraordinary Xmas

L-R (Front): Mary Steenburgen, Jane Levy, Skylar Astin; Back: Alice Lee and Andrew Leeds in Zoey's Extraordinary Xmas. Courtesy of Roku.

Jane Levy spoke with Solzy at the Movies last week about the newest Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist movie, Zoey’s Extraordinary Xmas.

After being cancelled by NBC, Roku came to the rescue and the new film premieres December 1, 2021 on The Roku Channel. Both seasons of Zoey’s are streaming on The Roku Channel. Depending on how well the numbers are for the new film, it’s quite possible that a new season could be ordered.

Zoey’s Extraordinary Xmas potentially closes the doors on the series. If there aren’t future episodes or movies, what are you going to miss the most about Zoey’s?

Jane Levy: Definitely singing and dancing. I’ve never been a part of—that’s not true. Actually, I was about to say I’ve ever been a part of a musical before. I did make an independent movie that was a musical. But on this scale, I’ve never done this and it’s a really different kind of experience. When you’re on set and a musical number happens, the molecules change in the air and everybody is bought into the music. It just brings this energy that music does—if you’re in your car and you put on a song, it’s transformative, what it can do to you on your emotions, and how it can affect the rest of your day. And so, being able to stretch those muscles as a performer, I’m going to miss a lot. The next job I get, I’m gonna be like, Boring!

When NBC cancelled the series in June, did you start looking at other opportunities or were you in a holding pattern to see if anyone would come to the rescue?

Jane Levy: Both, I guess. I am not contractually attached to this show anymore but of course, if someone wanted to make more, I would absolutely do it. But in the meantime, I’m absolutely thinking about my future and different characters and projects that I might play or sign up for.

How’d you react when you learned that Roku came to the rescue?

Jane Levy: I mean, I was shocked! I was shocked. It all happened so fast. I thought the show was gonna get picked up because we all thought because we have such a great fan base and there’s critical acclaim, awards, and award nominations. I just thought it was an obvious thing. And then it didn’t happen, which was surprising. And then, we thought maybe we’re gonna go to Peacock and then that didn’t happen and then suddenly, we’re making a Xmas movie.

It all happened in such a short period that there was not that much time for processing. It was just kind of like, Okay, now this is happening. Okay, now let’s switch into this gear. We made the movie in kind of record time. Austin wrote it in three weeks. I had four days in Vancouver before I went to camera. I learned all those musical numbers, recorded all the songs, had my fittings, everything in four days. We wrapped the movie last month. They did post-production in record time. It’s coming out next week. It’s just been a whirlwind so maybe the processing of all this will happen after the premiere.

Learning lines and songs in like four days—I’m impressed!

Jane Levy: Thank you.

With the film taking place around the holidays, what are some of your favorite traditions?

Jane Levy: For me, I love eating so just a great meal, some wine, and good conversation. I love—I actually am a weird person and I like colder weather. I also like when the sun goes down early. I like going to bed early, which is so lame. What I look forward to is family, sleeping, and eating.

I’m the complete opposite and I am in Chicago where I am freezing my ass off.

Jane Levy: Well, there’s a disclaimer here. I’m a California girl so I’m actually not from where it snows. For me, cold is 50 degrees.

That’s a lot better than 10-20 degrees!

Jane Levy: Yes.

Is there anything that needs to happen for us to get more of Zoey’s in the future?

Jane Levy: Oh, I don’t know. We definitely wouldn’t have made this movie if it weren’t for the fans. I feel a lot of gratitude for their enthusiasm and their support. I don’t know about future. The landscape of how TV shows are produced just is changing constantly. I wouldn’t pretend that I know the rules. But I guess I just want to say thank you to the fans for everything you’ve done so far.

Do you have a favorite musical number from either season or the movie?

Jane Levy: I loved “American Pie” in season one. I loved this mash-up I got to do in the movie with Skylar, where he’s singing “Just the Two of Us” and I’m singing “We Need a Little Xmas.” John Stewart’s performances in episode six of season two were amazing—“Black Man in a White World.” Those are ones that come to mind right now.

What do you typically look for in a character when you’re reading a script for a film or television series?

Jane Levy: I guess I look for dynamicism. We as people are very contradictory even if we tell ourselves we’re not. I’m interested in the conflict inside people so people who were represent a certain way but need something else. And for me, that’s the most exciting thing to play—there’s a lot going on inside that is not exactly shown externally. I’m always trying to find characters that have internal conflict or contradictions or just real dilemmas that they are psychically trying to work out.

Thank you so much for two beautiful seasons and a movie.

Jane Levy: Thank you.

Zoey’s Extraordinary Xmas starts streaming December 1, 2021 on The Roku Channel.

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Danielle Solzman

Danielle Solzman is native of Louisville, KY, and holds a BA in Public Relations from Northern Kentucky University and a MA in Media Communications from Webster University. She roots for her beloved Kentucky Wildcats, St. Louis Cardinals, Indianapolis Colts, and Boston Celtics. Living less than a mile away from Wrigley Field in Chicago, she is an active reader (sports/entertainment/history/biographies/select fiction) and involved with the Chicago improv scene. She also sees many movies and reviews them. She has previously written for Redbird Rants, Wildcat Blue Nation, and Hidden Remote/Flicksided. From April 2016 through May 2017, her film reviews can be found on Creators.