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: READ MORE »