'Shark' film at Hallmark hooks three

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Daryl Hannah, John Schneider and Armand Assante are starring in the Hallmark Channel three-hour original movie "Shark Swarm," which is in production.

The movie centers on usually tame sharks who morph into man-eating fish when toxins are secretly released into the water by a greedy corporate real estate developer (Assante). The sharks begin to swarm the coastal town of Full Moon Bay near the infamous Red Triangle. Meanwhile, two local fishermen (one of whom is played by Schneider) become aware of the toxic dumping and plot to stop it in order to save the town and its residents. Hannah will play Schneider's wife.

The movie, set to air in 2008, is part of Hallmark's recently announced slate of 30 original movies -- its largest-ever development slate of original telefilms -- that will air next year (HR 7/13).

"We're bringing a Hallmark touch to this -- they're going to be family-friendly sharks," joked Henry Schleiff, president and CEO of Crown Media Holdings, owner and operator of Hallmark Channel and Hallmark Movie Channel.

Schleiff added that the movie -- which he called a "very riveting action adventure" -- has a higher budget than is typical of Hallmark movies and will appeal to the network's audience.

"Discovery Channel has obviously done a great job" with shark-themed programming, Schleiff said, alluding to the network's "Shark Week," which kicked off Sunday. "As we navigate the competitive waters of ratings, we thought it would be good to put our 'fin' in the water. ... This is part of the commitment to increasing the level of quality (of our programming) -- it's a terrific cast and a great subject."

The telefilm employs a mix of live, mechanical and CGI effects. Eddie Paul, a mechanical effects expert who consulted on the project, said "Shark Swarm" is the "biggest shark movie of all time."

"Shark Swarm" is shooting in the Red Triangle area of Northern California, home to great white sharks. James Contner, the cinematographer on "Jaws 3," is directing from a script by Matthew Chernov and David Rosiak. The movie is produced by Kyle Clark and Steve Niver for Larry Levinson Prods.
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