MIPCOM: Andie MacDowell on the Radical Wholesomeness of 'Cedar Cove'

"Cedar Cove," McDowell's first TV lead, has been a ratings hit for the Hallmark Channel.
"Cedar Cove," McDowell's first TV lead, has been a ratings hit for the Hallmark Channel.
 Hallmark Channel

CANNES – In a TV landscape that includes meth dealers, serial killers and even a cannibal among its anti-heroes, Cedar Cove stands out. The romantic serial starring Andie MacDowell and Dylan Neal, the first-ever primetime scripted series for the Hallmark Channel, is a throwback to a style of television many thought dead and gone: family-friendly primetime drama.

“I mean, what was the last wholesome show out there?” says Neal, speaking to THR at TV confab MIPCOM in Cannes. “I think it was Judging Amy or Providence, and we're talking 10 years ago. That's the last time this type of show was on the air.”

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Cedar Cove has its critics, but audiences don't seem to mind. The show's two-hour pilot on July 20 delivered a 2.4 rating and more than 3.8 million viewers for Hallmark and, since its debut, Cedar Cove has boosted the channel to the number one spot among cable networks for Saturdays between 8-9 pm. Hallmark has renewed the show for a second season.

For MacDowell, who took on her first small-screen starring role as small-town judge Olivia Lockhart in Cedar Cove, the show's success proves audiences were waiting for wholesome entertainment.

“The interesting thing for me is the timing [of this show] is perfect. We have enough of the other stuff. We don't need any more reality TV, women yelling at each other. I can't watch that stuff,” MacDowell told THR. “And [among TV dramas] there is some great programming, but my concern is that a lot of it starts to look like pornography...all the people I looked up to, that I aspired to [as an actress] didn't take their clothes off. I'm concerned because my daughters are actresses, and I'm concerned about where we are going to go?”

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Neal puts Cedar Cove in a category with Touched by an Angel or Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman, shows that made wholesome entertainment their brand and selling point. (In fact, Dr. Quinn executive producer Carl Binder is the showrunner on Cedar Cove). The fact that the major networks and cable channels have abandoned family-friendly programming, Neal said, “has left a void” that Cedar Cove has filled.

Adds MacDowell: “it's not to say the other stuff is not quality; there is a lot of quality stuff out there. But there is just nothing wholesome. And it is nice to be in something wholesome.... If you ask me, we are the most creative of all, because there is plenty of the other. And then there's us.”

There also appears to be an appetite globally for good, clean TV. Beta Film, which is handling worldwide sales for Cedar Cove, has already inked deals for the first 14-episode season of the show for Germany (Disney Channel), Italy (RAI) and Spain (Antena3).

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