Hallmark Channel Launching First Scripted Series (Exclusive)

Andie MacDowell Portrait - P 2012
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Andie MacDowell Portrait - P 2012

Hallmark Channel is throwing its hat in the scripted series arena. The Crown Media-owned cable network has set Cedar Cove, a two-hour telefilm based on the book by Debbie Macomber that will serve as a backdoor pilot for the series.

Andie MacDowell will star as a small-town family court judge in the pic, which will premiere in late 2012, with the series launching early next year, The Hollywood Reporter has learned exclusively.

The pic marks the fourth of Macomber's romance novels to get the Hallmark treatment following Mrs. Miracle, Call Me Mrs. Miracle and Trading Christmas; they went on to become the network's most-watched movies of the year in 2009, 2010 and 2011, respectively.

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"Andie is widely recognized around the world as a gifted actor and a top box-office draw, and there is genuine, mutual excitement today between the network and our star about the new series," Hallmark exec vp programming Michelle Vicary said.

Bruce Graham, who adapted Trading Christmas, will pen the telepic, which hails from Orchard Road Productions. Dan Wigutow, who exec produced all three of Macomber's Hallmark specials, will return to executive produce alongside Caroline Moore, Harvey Kahn, Michael Scott and Allen Lewis. Scott will direct the telepic. A showrunner has not been determined.

Production on the telepic starts in early June. MacDowell will film it after ABC Family's Jane by Design, which is wrapping production on the second half of its first season.

MacDowell is repped by Paradigm, the Schiff Co. and Greenberg Glusker.

Worth pointing out, the Hallmark series comes months after Lifetime adapted its ratings hit telepic The Client List into a drama starring Jennifer Love Hewitt, which has already been renewed for a second season.

Email: Lesley.Goldberg@thr.com; Twitter: @Snoodit