Beyond ‘Groundhog Day’: New Hulu movie ‘Reporting for Christmas’ also filmed in Woodstock

Cherry Tree Inn, famous for Bill Murray film, also features heavily in new work debuting today

Lori Miarecki and her daughter, Megan Kerr, in the film "Reporting for Christmas."

Those who tune into “Reporting for Christmas” when it debuts on Hulu on Wednesday – and are familiar with Woodstock’s cinematic history – might notice a familiar building in the movie.

That would be the Cherry Tree Inn, the bed and breakfast where Bill Murray stays in “Groundhog Day.” The makers of “Reporting for Christmas” didn’t set out to film at the Cherry Tree Inn because of its presence in the other film, but “it wasn’t a deterrent either,” director Jack Newell said.

“We’re all fans of the movie,” Newell said.

Producer Chris Charles said they were “looking for charming bed and breakfasts. “The Cherry Tree Inn really stood out.”

Charles described “Reporting for Christmas” as a “family-friendly, uplifting Christmas romance.”

“It’s just a heartwarming story,” Charles said.

Though it’s a Hallmark-like holiday film, Charles said they tried to stay away from some of the holiday film tropes. Charles specifically mentioned the one where the main character has to sacrifice something to be with the person they love. The plot involves a hard-driving reporter who is asked to write a feature story about a toy company.

“Mary could still be happy in a way where she doesn’t have to sacrifice anything,” Charles said.

Tamara Feldman at the Cherry Tree Inn in Woodstock. Feldman starred in "Reporting for Christmas," a holiday film premiering Nov. 1 on Hulu.

Lori and Georgie Miarecki are the owners of the Cherry Tree Inn. Lori said they bought the inn six years ago. While they didn’t own the Inn during the 1990s when “Groundhog Day” was filmed in town, there is a shrine to the movie in the living room of the Cherry Tree Inn and fans of that film “still show up every day,” Lori Miarecki said.

The “Groundhog Day” connections don’t stop at the Cherry Tree Inn. Woodstock resident Steve Aavang, who lives next door to the inn, was an extra in both “Groundhog Day” and “Reporting for Christmas.”

He said his role in “Reporting for Christmas” was as a houseguest at the inn, but he said he wasn’t sure if he made it into the film since his part was a “nanosecond.”

“I was excellent at walking across the hallway,” Aavang said.

While the movie was filmed in other suburban Chicago locations like Vernon Hills and Long Grove, filming also took place in Woodstock, primarily at the Cherry Tree Inn.

“We did find the town itself to be quite charming,” Charles said.

The crew felt they received a warm welcome in Woodstock, and Newell said “people in town were supportive.”

Lori Miarecki reached out to her friends who own small businesses, including Morgan Beck, who owns Desserts and Stuff Bakery in Woodstock and Diane Keen and Amanda Keen of Events by Artful Decor in Crystal Lake.

“I brought in as many people as I could,” Miarecki said, adding that the small businesses are in the film’s credits. “I just wanted to give my friends bragging rights.”

Diane Keen said Miarecki asked her company to help decorate the inn, but Keen said it wasn’t her first foray into decorating for a holiday movie, having been asked to do another holiday film several years ago.

She said she had a huge collection of nutcrackers and snowflakes, and even got to watch some of the filming.

“If it’s at the Cherry Tree Inn, it’s all of our stuff,” Keen said.

Miarecki’s friends came through with their decorating skills, and she Miarecki said that “it looked like we had a $2 million decor budget.”

Beck, who lives across the street from the Cherry Tree Inn, said Miarecki asked her to bake “a variety of Christmas cookies” and some toad-shaped cookies. The film features “Mistletoads,” a Christmas-themed toy.

Beck said she could see the crew film from her house, and she visited the set after filming wrapped up.

She is looking forward to watching the film, saying she will be in “Christmas mode” now that Halloween is over.

“I’m really excited to be included and can’t wait to watch it,” Beck said of the film.

“The inn looks absolutely beautiful in the film,” Charles said.

Filming in Woodstock was a pleasant experience for the producers.

Newell said often in filming, crews are bouncing around from place to place, but in Woodstock, while shooting at the Cherry Tree Inn, “we basically got to live in [one] location for five days.”

The Miareckis also enjoyed having the film crew in the bed and breakfast, and George Miarecki said they were very respectful of the house.

“The entire crew was a dream to work with,” Lori Miarecki said. “I would invite them over for family dinner.”