Hallmark Upfront: 15 Original Movies, New Series and the Return of the Kitten Bowl
UPDATED: Debbie Macomber will create a pilot for a new series, Martha Williamson is executive producing a primetime series, and the Christmas movie Northpole will be the first partnership between the channel and the Hallmark Card brand.
Valerie Bertinelli, Catherine Bell and Tiffani Amber Thiessen are among the stars in new movies, series and shows announced by Crown Media at their upfront presentation to advertisers Thursday. Execs rolled out programming for the end of 2014 and all of 2015 for the Hallmark Channel and the rebranding Hallmark Movies & Mysteries.
The spate of announcements includes 15 original movies, a seventh installment in the series of movies called The Good Witch Wonder, a new primetime series from executive producer Martha Williamson and, as part of their comprehensive end of year holiday programming a TV movie, Northpole. The project marks the first movie Hallmark Channel and Hallmark Cards have created jointly.
“Our original movies will continue to uphold the reputation and brand of Hallmark Channel as The Heart of TV by engaging our viewers with heartfelt, meaningful family movies,” said Michelle Vicary, Hallmark’s evp programming. “We are committed to providing new, original stories that the whole family can watch and enjoy together, which is what separates our network as the leader in quality family entertainment.”
Hallmark Channel also announced production of a new original scripted series, Chesapeake Shores, based on novels by Sherryl Woods. It is part of a ten book series about the O’Brien family, a multi- generational clan who have a reunion and face painful memories.
Hallmark will launch a new series in April 2014 called Signed, Sealed, Delivered, to be produced by Martha Williamson (Touched By An Angel). Produced by Muse Entertainment in association with MoonWater Productions, it follows a team of four postal detectives who specialize in investigating misdirected letters and delivering them when they are needed most. Valeries Bertinelli (Hot In Cleveland) and will portray the team’s Mailroom Supervisor for two episodes in a guest starring role.
The Good Witch, to star Catherine Bell (Army Wives, JAG), from ITV Studios, carries on the character of Cassie Nightingale. (Premieres Oct. 25). It is a Whizbang Films Production. Orly Adelson, Jonathan Eskenas, Frank Siracusa and Craig Pryce are the executive producers. Bell is co-executive producer. It is based on characters created by Rod Spence.
Hallmark is also partnering again with author Debbie Macomber (Cedar Cove) to create an original movie that will also be a backdoor pilot for a series, Debbie Macomber’s Mr. Miracle, to premiere at the end of this year. It is about an angel in training whose first assignment is to help an insecure student realize her true purpose in life; and in the process learned lessons about his own life. Dan Wigutow is executive producer.
Hallmark also announced it will return for a second Kitten Bowl, a three-hour show that is programmed against the Super Bowl. They are also launching the Kitten Paw-Star Game, with kittens challenged to swat balls, catch line drives and run the bases. It executive produced by JD Roth, Todd Nelson, Adam Kaloustian and Brant Pinvidic of Eyeworks USA. Co- executive producer is Jesse Drollette.
The Kitten Paw-Star Game is part of Hallmark Channel’s “Pet Project,” an initiative to celebrate pets and raise awareness of the plight of shelter animals across the country.
“Hallmark Channel is breaking ground by producing original, never been done before quality family-friendly entertainment that resonates with viewers,” said Bill Abbott, Crown Media Networks’ president/CEO.
The announcements include:
A Ring By Spring, about a business consultant whose view of marriage is impacted by a fortuneteller’s prediction, to star Rachel Boston, Stefanie Powers and Kirby Morrow. (Premiering March 8, 2015).
Lucky In Love, about a woman executive who lets go of her search for perfection to find true happiness. It stars Jessica Szohr, Deidre Hall and Benjamin Hollingsworth. (Premieres April 5).
A Lesson In Love, a woman who finds her career priorities have cost her a bond with her family. It stars Kristy Swanson and Scott Grimes. (Premieres April 19).
Mother’s Day Off,about a stay at home mom who finds a glamorous life doesn’t bring happiness without her family. It stars Bonnie Somerville and James Tupper. (Premieres May 10).
My Boyfriend’s Dogs, about a woman who returns to her hometown and discovers she really loves the man she left to pursue her professional dreams. It stars Meghan Markle. (Premieres June 28, 2014).
The Good Witch’s Wonder is the seventh in a series that has been among Hallmark Channel’s highest-rated movies. Catherine Bell returns to star as Cassie Nightingale, the benevolent, kind-hearted witch living in the small community of Middleton with her husband Jake and three children. (Premieres October 25).
Northpole,about a reporter who, with the help of her son and his teacher, recaptures the joy of the holiday season and in the process saves Christmas. Stars Tiffany Amber Thiessen, Josh Hopkins and Bailee Madison. (Premieres November 22). It is a Muse Entertainment production. Executive producers are Joel S. Rice and Michael Prupas. Irene Latinsky is producer. Douglas Barr directs from a script by Gregg Rossen and Brian Sawyer.