Hallmark Channel has given a second season pickup to When Calls The Heart, its second original scripted series which stars Lori Loughlin, Erin Krakow and Daniel Lissing. It follows the renewal for a second season of Hallmark’s first original scripted series, Cedar Cove. Based on the bestselling series of books of the same name by Janette Oke, When Calls The Heart tells the story of a young woman who begins a new chapter in her life in am early 20th century coal mining town. It is averaging a 1.5 household rating. When Calls The Heart is executive produced by Brad Krevoy, Brian Bird and Michael Landon, Jr.
The WGA is preparing to bar prolific TV movie producer Larry Levinson from ever using guild writers again unless he pays up on millions he allegedly owes in unpaid residuals. In the past 20 years, Larry Levinson Productions has produced nearly 200 family-oriented TV movies, most of which were made for the Hallmark Channel or in association with Hallmark Entertainment. The guild is currently pursuing arbitration claims against Levinson’s various production entities for unpaid residuals and interest owed on 38 of those TV movies. In a recent letter to a group of writers who Levinson allegedly stiffed, the guild stated that “Levinson continues to demonstrate an egregious, ongoing failure to pay residuals.” An arbitration hearing is set for August 14.
In its notice of arbitration (read it here), the WGA claimed that two of Levinson’s companies, Hardstone Entertainment and Branwen Productions, violated the guild’s contract by failing to pay residuals on dozens of TV movies; by failing to report the gross receipts of the movies and how often they were rerun on television; and by failing to make pension and health contributions on those unpaid residuals.
EXCLUSIVE: Hallmark Channel has greenlighted The Good Witch, a 10-episode original scripted series based on the network’s very successful movie franchise. The series will star Catherine Bell, reprising her role of raven-haired enchantress Cassie Nightingale from the TV movies. The series is slated for a premiere in Q1 2015, following the debut of the seventh movie in the franchise, The Good Witch’s Wonder on October 25. Hallmark Channel had been mulling the idea of a Good Witch series for awhile but couldn’t proceed without Bell who only recently became available for a regular gig following the end of her long-running Lifetime drama Army Wives. “From the moment the first film in The Good Witch series premiered, we knew audiences would fall in love with Catherine Bell and this character and want to see more of her,” said Michelle Vicary, EVP, Hallmark Channel and Hallmark Movie Channel. “Catherine has been one of the most sought after talents in our industry, and now she has a weekly home on Hallmark Channel.”
The Good Witch, a Whizbang Films Production, is executive produced by the movie franchise’s producers Orly Adelson, Jonathan Eskenas, Frank Siracusa and Craig Pryce, who directed the films based on characters by Rod Spence. Bell is co-executive producer. ITV Studios America, which Adelson recently joined as president, will distribute the series outside of North America. At Hallmark, The Good Witch joins …
EXCLUSIVE: The 88-year-old TV legend has signed for a guest stint on the series about a group of mail detectives in the Dead Letter Office who will deliver every last lost and dead letter to its rightful owner just when the recipient needs it most. Dick Van Dyke will play the team’s supervisor in Episodes 3 and 4 of Hallmark Channel‘s comedic drama Signed, Sealed, Delivered. The revolving role will feature a different TV icon every two episodes, with Valerie Harper playing the supervisor in the first two. It’s created and executive produced by Martha Williamson, in her first series since Touched By An Angel wrapped in 2003.
Hallmark Channel will develop Sheryl Woods’ Chesapeake Shores novels for a potential primetime series to launch in 2015. The deal, announced today by Harlequin, comes on the heels of an agreement between Harlequin MIRA and Woods that includes two new Chesapeake Shores books in 2015 to coincide with the possible series launch. Woods introduced the Chesapeake Shores series in 2009 with The Inn At Eagle Point. It centers on the O’Brien clan—a large Irish-American family living on the shores of the Chesapeake Bay in a town designed and founded by three O’Brien brothers. The television series focuses on the drama that ensues when the O’Brien family reunites after years apart to face the memories from their past and learn the importance of reconciliation. Chesapeake Shores is the second Harlequin MIRA series to be adapted by the Hallmark Channel as an original television series. The network currently produces and airs Andie MacDowell starrer Cedar Cove, based on the bestselling series of the same name by Debbie Macomber.
Hallmark Channel this morning confirmed our scoop that Martha Williamson‘s backdoor pilot/movie Signed, Sealed, Delivered starring Eric Mabius has been picked up to series with a 10-episode order for Q2 2014, marking Touched by An Angel executive producer Williamson’s return to series television. The two-hour backdoor pilot premieres Saturday, October 12.
EXCLUSIVE: Hallmark Channel is expanding its scripted portfolio. I’ve learned that the cable network has given a 10-episode order to Signed, Sealed, Delivered (formerly Dead Letters) ahead of the backdoor pilot’s October 12 premiere as an original movie. I hear the decision was made based on great testing results for the pilot. Created and executive produced by former Touched By An Angel executive producer Martha Williamson, Signed, Sealed & Delivered is a comedic drama about an intrepid group of mail detectives in the Dead Letter Office who will deliver every last lost & dead letter to its rightful owner just when the recipient needs it most. Ugly Betty alum Eric Mabius is leading that cast, which also includes Daphne Zuniga, Kristin Booth, Crystal Lowe and Geoff Gustafson. Williamson is executive producing with Joel S. Rice, Michael Prupas and Jesse Prupas. The pickup comes on the heels of the second season renewal for Hallmark’s first scripted series, the Andie MacDowell starrer Cedar Cove. The network’s second series, When Calls The Heart starring Jean Smart and Lori Loughlin, premieres in January.
Hallmark Channel‘s Debbie Macomber’s Cedar Cove has been renewed for a second season. It will premiere in 2014. Based on Macomber’s novels, the Andie MacDowell-starrer has been a ratings hit for Hallmark. Since the series launched on July 20, Hallmark Channel has been the top-rated cable television network on Saturdays from 8-9 PM, The two-hour series pilot debuted as the No. 1 primetime ad-supported movie of the week and day, delivering a 2.4 household rating with over 3.8 million viewers. MacDowell, Dylan Neal, Teryl Rothery, Bruce Boxleitner and Barbara Niven will all return for Season 2. The series, filmed in Vancouver, will begin production in 2014.
UPDATE, 4:15 PM: Hallmark Channel has released a statement confirming that it isn’t picking up a second season of Marie, saying the network is focusing on “quintessential lifestyle service shows that inform and entertain our viewers with how to, tips and ideas for living their best lives” during daytime rather than the syndie talk shows Marie currently competes with. The statement follows the original break.
PREVIOUS EXCLUSIVE, 3:11 PM: Marie Osmond’s daily talk show will not return to Hallmark Channel for a second season. Instead, we’ve learned that Associated Television International, the company behind Marie, will be taking it out for a syndication launch in fall 2014. We hear talks with station groups are already underway, and that the plan had always been to make the show available to other outlets as part of a broader multi-platform strategy. Marie, which marked Osmond’s return to daytime television, premiered on Hallmark last fall when it replaced The Martha Stewart Show. Osmond recently has drawn attention for her stint as guest host on CBS’ The Talk.
Here’s the release:
The original movie from Touched By An Angel executive producer Martha Williamson will premiere Saturday, October 12 at 9 PM. Dead Letters, which stars Eric Mabius and Kristin Booth, was announced as part of Hallmark‘s development slate in March. It is being eyed as a backdoor pilot; if greenlighted, it would become a primetime series in 2014.
The disclosure in an unusually dense SEC filing led to a 19.2% pop today in the share price for the parent of the Hallmark Channel, taking it to a two-year high. The greeting card company already controls 90.3% of Crown Media. It says in the filing that a standstill agreement will expire at the end of 2013. As a result, Hallmark and its subsidiaries are “evaluating their investment.” Options include buying additional shares, merging, and leading a stock repurchase program. Meanwhile, Hallmark says it “may at any time reconsider and change [its] plans or proposals.” Crown’s stock price had been rising before the announcement: It’s +45.9% over the last 12 months. Even so, the company would be relatively cheap for Hallmark to buy. Crown had a market value of $892M based on today’s closing price.
UPDATED: Erin Krakow (Castle, Army Wives) and Daniel Lissing (Last Resort, Crownies) have joined the cast of When Calls The Heart. The one-hour original scripted series set to premiere in January 2014 on the Hallmark Channel stars Jean Smart and Lori Loughlin who will reprise their roles from the two-hour original movie that debuted October 5 on Hallmark. Based on Janette Oke’s bestselling Canadian West book series, When Calls The Heart chronicles the story of Elizabeth Thatcher (Krakow), a young teacher accustomed to high society life, who receives her first classroom post in a small coal-mining town in the Western frontier lead by two strong coal-miner widows, Abigail Stanton (Loughlin) and Frances Tunnecliffe (Smart). When Calls The Heart is a Brad Krevoy Television and Believe Pictures production. Brad Krevoy, Brian Bird, Michael Landon, Jr., Roman Viaris, Francisco Gonzalez, and Jimmy Townsend serve as executive producers, with Bird and Landon Jr. serving as showrunners. Eric Jarboe will serve as a co-executive producer.
Hallmark Channel today also announced that its first primetime series Debbie Macomber’s Cedar Cove will debut Saturday, July 20 at 8 PM. Andie MacDowell stars in the series based on Macomber’s Cedar Cove book series. MacDowell plays Judge Olivia …
Hallmark Channel said today it is boosting its original programming efforts, adding another scripted series to its schedule and two pilots to its development slate. The network unveiled during parent Crown Media’s upfront presentation in NY that it has greenlighted 10 episodes of When Calls The Heart, based on the book series by Janette Oke. The movie pilot is set to premiere October 5 and the series will debut in January 2014. It joins Hallmark’s first original scripted series, Debbie Macomber’s Cedar Cove, the Andie MacDowell-starrer that premieres July 20 as a two-hour movie, followed by new one-hour episodes on Saturdays beginning July 27. Set in the Western frontier, Heart centers on young teacher Elizabeth Thatcher (Poppy Drayton) who trades high society life for a classroom post in the prairie, determined to prove she is brave enough to live on her own. She learns through her aunt’s secret diary that she had been a pioneer woman herself, and uses it as a guide to embark on her own adventures.
Hallmark also announced today that it has given an early Season 2 order to the daily daytime lifestyle show Home & Family, which in November saw the departure of original host Paige Davis. Mark Steines and Davis’ replacement Christina Ferrare will return to co-host. The network also said it has acquired off-network rights to Home Improvement from Disney-ABC Domestic Television and will air the hit ’90s sitcom beginning in September. It joins recently acquired series The Good Wife, which will air in January 2014, and The Middle, which is set for March 2014.
Here are the network’s descriptions of the pilots in development:
‘The Good Wife’ Off-Network Rights Sell To Amazon, Hulu, Hallmark Channel, Broadcast Syndication For Nearly $2M An Episode
In an arrangement that reflects the changing off-network options for serialized dramas, CBS’ The Good Wife has been sold in a complex multi-window deal that involves two streaming partners, Amazon and Hulu; a basic cable network, Hallmark Channel; and broadcast syndication, for what I hear is a combined license fee of nearly $2 million per episode. “This is an off-network model for a unique serialized show in today’s television ecosystem,” said Leslie Moonves, President and CEO, CBS Corp.
Under the deal, the first three seasons of The Good Wife will become available on Amazon Prime tomorrow, with the current Season 4 coming later this year. Hulu Plus will roll out previous seasons of the show in September 2013, while Hallmark Channel will begin airing The Good Wife in January 2014. A weekend broadcast syndication run is scheduled to begin in September 2014, with the series sold in 85% of the country, including the CBS O&Os, in a barter deal.
The 2012 Hollywood Christmas Parade will air on the Hallmark Channel on December 10 at 6 PM ET. This year’s Grand Marshal is Joe Mantegna (Criminal Minds, The Rat Pack). He’ll be joined by Lou Ferrigno, Louis Gossett Jr., along with cast members from Glee, Criminal Minds and Days Of Our Lives, among others. Erik Estrada (World’s Funniest Moments, CHiPS) and Laura McKenzie (World’s Funniest Moments, Laura McKenzie’s Traveler) will host.
EXCLUSIVE: Paige Davis is leaving Hallmark Channel‘s new daily daytime lifestyle program Home & Family. She is taping her last episode today to air tomorrow. Co-host Mark Steines is staying on, joined by Christina Ferrare until a permanent co-host is found. “After much thought and careful consideration, and after close to three months away from her own home and family, Paige has decided to temporarily return to New York,” Hallmark Channel said in a statement to Deadline. “We deeply appreciate the contribution Paige made to Home & Family and for the warmth and talent she brought to the set each day. Talk show veteran Christina Ferrare will step into the co-host role through the holiday season and will begin appearing on air on Monday, November 19th.”
Hallmark Channel today announced that it has given green light to its first primetime series Cedar Cove starring Andie MacDowell. Stargate veteran Carl Binder will serve as showrunner on the series, which will film in Vancouver. Cedar Cove is based on Debbie Macomber’s novels and stars MacDowell as Judge Olivia Lockhart whose Cedar Cove Municipal Court is the professional milieu and social microcosm of issues the judge will face in her own day-to-day life with family and friends. Dylan Neal plays Jack Griffith, the new editor of the Cedar Cove Chronicle, and budding love interest for Judge Lockhart. Hallmark made two-hour pilot orders to Cedar Cover and When Calls the Heart in March. Then in May, when it tapped MacDowell for Cedar Cove, it announced that the project has been given a series order for a debut in early 2013. At the time, MacDowell was tied to ABC Family’s Jane By Design, which has since been cancelled. Cedar Cove‘s two-hour pilot, directed by Michael Scott and written by Bruce Graham, will air on Jan 19, followed by the series launch in early spring.
The owner of the Hallmark Channel says that its original movies are still working — and advertisers like the network’s daytime programming plans which include a two-hour daily show Home And Family and Marie Osmond’s Marie. Crown generated net income of $13.5M, – 38% vs the period last year, on revenues of $86.7M, +13.9%. Much of the decline in earnings is due to interest and tax expenses, partly due to its debt restructuring. For common stockholders, earnings per share increased a penny to four cents. The company is thinly traded and not closely followed by analysts. Crown says that ad sales were up 15% in Q2 to $66.5M, which it attributes to the growth in its audience. Subscriber fees from pay TV providers were up 10% to $19.9M. Crown says that that advertiser CPMs for Home And Family — which will feature former Entertainment Tonight host Mark Steines and TV personality Paige Davis — were as much as 100% better than what Hallmark had been collecting for its off-network daytime shows. It also says that Marie is attracting first-time advertisers including KitchenAir, Electrolux, Visa, and General Motors. “During second quarter, the casting developments for Hallmark Channel were significant,” says Crown Media Family Networks CEO Bill Abbott. Although Crown shares closed yesterday at a modest $1.73, the price is up nearly 43% in 2012, recovering somewhat from a steep decline in 2011.
Ray Richmond is a contributor to AwardsLine
Just when everyone assumed that the original television miniseries was either dead or restricted to being the loss-leader indulgence of HBO, up pops History Channel’s Hatfields & McCoys in May to show the world that if you make a three-night event on a compelling subject with big stars (Kevin Costner, Bill Paxton) and a quality pedigree, the masses will still flock. Hatfields averaged nearly 14 million total viewers nightly, building to 14.3 million on Night 3 to become the most-watched entertainment telecast of all time on ad-supported cable.
Despite that success, so few miniseries are being done that the TV Academy last year was obliged to merge TV movies and miniseries into a single category. There simply is no longer close to the number of ambitious, big-budget minis as were commissioned in the days of Roots (1977), Jesus Of Nazareth (1977), The Winds Of War (1983) and War And Remembrance (1988-89). When it happens now, it’s generally on HBO via the likes of Angels In America (2003), John Adams (2008), The Pacific (2010) and Mildred Pierce (2011). Yet even HBO’s once-abundant longform output has slowed in recent years just to a few projects annually. Blame the shifting economics of the TV business.