A Diva's Christmas Carol
A Diva's Christmas Carol is a 2000 VH1-original Christmas television film starring Vanessa L. Williams, Rozonda "Chilli" Thomas, Brian McNamara and Kathy Griffin. The film is based on the 1843 Charles Dickens classic, A Christmas Carol, and features an ego-driven pop singer who gets a reality check by three Christmas spirits. The film premiered on December 13, 2000.
|A Diva's Christmas Carol|
DVD cover of A Diva's Christmas Carol
|Based on||A Christmas Carol|
by Charles Dickens
|Written by||Richard Schenkman|
|Directed by||Richard Schenkman|
|Starring||Vanessa L. Williams|
Rozonda "Chilli" Thomas
|Country of origin||United States|
|Running time||120 minutes|
Ebony Scrooge (Vanessa Williams) is one of the world's most successful pop singers. However, with her cold-hearted soul and nasty attitude, she lacks a great deal of holiday cheer and makes her manager Bob (Brian McNamara) and her band anything but happy. In addition, she also neglects her niece Olivia (Amanda Brugel).
While in New York for a charity concert, Ebony (who was once part of the 1980s trio "Desire") is visited by the ghost of one of her former singing partners, Marli Jacob (Rozonda "Chilli" Thomas), who died in a car crash in 1990. She tells Ebony that she was unhappy with her for willingly abandoning her during her struggles with her drug addiction which ultimately led to the car accident that killed her. She also mentions that God knows Ebony took advantage of Marli's death to plot her solo career, and the fact that she is using the charity concert as an excuse to add to her own wealth. Because of it, Marli is still earthbound and in chains, and warns Ebony that she may face a similar fate. Marli tells her that she will be visited by three spirits: the Ghosts of Christmas Past, Present, and Yet To Come, who will hopefully turn Ebony's life around.
The Ghost of Christmas Past (Kathy Griffin) shows Ebony her tragic past with her abusive, alcoholic father (Warren "Slims" Williams), and how she partly became the cold person she is today because of it. The only person that made Ebony (Vanessa Morgan) feel loved was her brother, Ronnie (Ade Obayomi), and even he tried to be positive for their family, which continued even after the two were removed from their father's custody, split up, and placed in foster care. It was also revealed that even though Ebony had been adopted into a nice family and managed to keep in touch with Ronnie, she had refused to visit her father, whom she has never forgiven for the abuse he put both her and Ronnie through. While Ronnie (Nwamiko Madden) tried to give their father a second chance after he seemingly improved his ways, even moving back home with him, he soon learned that Ebony had been right about their father not having changed after he began drinking again. Ronnie subsequently left home for good and later married straight out of high school and had Olivia, before dying of a sudden brain aneurysm.
During her years as Desire's lead singer, Ebony had a relationship with Bob, who was a DJ at the time, and he was considering marrying her before she coldly broke up with him. Ebony had worked well with Desire until her coldness caused rifts, which, along with Marli's drug problems, eventually broke up the band. Before leaving her, the ghost takes Ebony to Terry Freeman (Stephanie Biddle), Desire's other singer and Ebony and Marli's once close friend, who is now a destitute Meals on Wheels client due to Ebony abandoning her following Marli's death and crushing her financially in a lawsuit regarding the "Desire" name and brand. The ghost confronts Ebony over her maltreatment of Terry over the years, saying she should never had abandoned her friend when she needed her.
Ebony then finds a wild party in her suite, with a heavy metal rocker at the center of the chaos. He is the Ghost of Christmas Present (John Taylor), who shows her how she is overworking Bob and her crew. She comes to learn just how much her band really hates her and that they insult her behind her back. Ebony shows sympathy and concern for Bob's ailing son Tim, slowly realizing just how strained his relationship with his family is. The ghost also shows Ebony that her accountant Ernie Hoskins (Richard Jutras) is spending his Christmas with his girlfriend; Ernie lets it slip that he's been able to pay for his lifestyle by secretly stealing money from her accounts over the years. This angers Ebony because Ernie was supposed to be her trusted accountant, and also makes her realize why he's always insisted on her staying on a tight budget – the less she spends, the more he can steal from her. The Ghost then takes Ebony to see the homeless people her concert is supposed to benefit, but whom she's never interacted with. The ghost shows her how they enjoy Christmas despite having nothing. Lastly, the Ghost takes her to the apartment of her estranged niece Olivia (Amanda Brugel). Olivia tells her husband and friends that despite Ebony's cold attitude, she still loves her aunt. Ebony starts regretting how she treated Olivia in the past, and finally appreciates that she is the only living blood relative she has left. At this point, she starts to see everything in a new light and feels terrible about the way that she mistreated Olivia, Bob, and her band. Before leaving, the Ghost warns Ebony of the two main killers that could destroy her own life: Ignorance and Greed. Ebony reluctantly allows Bob to rush home to be with his wife Kelly (Linda Goodwin) and sick son Tim (Joshua Archambault).
The last spirit (the Ghost of Christmas Future) is the one that gets through to Ebony. The Ghost is depicted as a miniature television showing a tragic episode of Behind the Music, which depicts many artists such as Brian McKnight commenting on the life and death of Ebony Scrooge. Her former bandmates use the show to air out their grievances about who she really is inside, ruining her public image in the process. The matter is made worse when one of her disgruntled former back up singers, Tina, theorizes that Ebony had planned to destroy Desire by letting Marli die from her drug problems and leaving Terry financially ruined, so the former could take advantage and make her own solo career more successful. While Bob defends Ebony from this by debunking Tina's theory, he also reveals how much he couldn't forgive her for making him work on Christmas, which led to both his missing Tim's death and his wife Kelly divorcing him, a revelation that breaks Ebony's heart. It is also revealed that she died flat broke due to both Ernie draining her finances and her own career floundering in her last years. Ebony also discovers that Olivia was the only person who attended her funeral, while everyone else benefited from her death. The television then begins to pull Ebony into its black void as she screams for help.
The next morning, Ebony awakens and opens her heart to Christmas once again. During an interview, she mentions that she will do all she can to help the homeless and is open to suggestions for how to alleviate the stress of poverty. Ebony also apologizes for allowing her latest CD to be overpriced. She hires a chef (implied to be Wolfgang Puck) to make a lavish Christmas dinner for her crew, and encouraging them to invite their families to her concert by buying up every ticket to the show that she can, over Ernie's protests regarding her budget. Ebony next reconciles with her niece Olivia, who reveals her pregnancy, and invites Terry to perform with her. She then makes one final stop before the concert by rushing to the airport and stopping Bob from boarding his plane, revealing that she has flown both his wife and Tim to join him in New York instead. After offering Bob an extended vacation to be with his family, Ebony reveals that she has pulled strings to get Tim into the best pediatric hospital in New York, and will personally fund his care to help him recover.
That night, the concert is a big success. During the show, Ebony declares all proceeds and donations (which equate to over $1 million) will go to charity. She then fires Ernie and has him arrested for his embezzlement by the police and his girlfriend, who turns out to be an undercover FBI agent. Marli, now wearing angelic robes, watches Ebony and Terry reunite and perform "Sleigh Ride", an old song from their repertoire, and Ebony sees Marli blow her and Terri a kiss before Marli departs for heaven.
A year later, Ebony, Terry, Bob, Kelly, and a healthy Tim are seen with Olivia's family and her usual guests at her perennial Christmas party. Ebony plans to have Terry reform the Desire group again.
- Vanessa L. Williams – Ebony Scrooge
- Vanessa Morgan - Young Ebony
- Helena-Alexis Seymour - Teen Ebony
- Rozonda "Chilli" Thomas – Marli Jacob
- Brian McNamara – Bob
- Kathy Griffin – Ghost of Christmas Past
- John Taylor – Ghost of Christmas Present
- Amanda Brugel – Olivia
- Stephanie Biddle – Terry Freeman
- Richard Jutras – Ernie
- Linda Goodwin – Kelly Cratchett
- Joshua Archambault - Tim Cratchett
- Nwamiko Madden - Ronnie Scrooge
- Ade Obayomi - Young Ronnie
- Michelle Lipper – Tina
- Amy Sloan – Patrice
- Henri Pardo – Matt
- Christian Paul – Lance
- Warren "Slim" Williams – Ebony's Father
- Nile Rodgers - Record Label CEO
- Jim Forbes - Himself
- Brian McKnight - Himself
Vanessa Williams sang the songs for the movie's soundtrack, including the original songs "Heart of Christmas" and "Heartquake" (featuring Rozonda Thomas). She also sings a remake of the 1948 holiday classic "Sleigh Ride".