Hallmark ups original ante with Fisher
EmptyBarbara Fisher, former head of programming at Lifetime, has been named to the newly created position of senior vp original programming at Hallmark Channel in a sign of the network's aggressive move to expand its slate of originals.
As part of the appointment, Fisher also will hold the same title at Hallmark Movie Channel. She will be responsible for overseeing the development and production of all original programming at both channels -- including movies, miniseries, specials and series -- and will assist executive vp programming David Kenin in leading the expansion of the programming department as Hallmark broadens its list of production suppliers and creates new platforms for program distribution.
Fisher said a big part of Hallmark Channel's original programming focus will continue to be movies, and she hopes to turn every original the network airs into "event" programming and continue to focus on a range of genres. In the long term, she said, the channel may look to develop its own original series as well.
"It's a huge financial investment, so we have to go in carefully and wisely," she said. "We'll talk about it; we're not ready to say when. But as part of our commitment to original programming, it's natural to believe that we will eventually evolve."
From 2002-04, Fisher was executive vp entertainment at Lifetime Entertainment Services, where she oversaw all scheduling, programming and production for Lifetime Television, Lifetime Movie Network and Lifetime Real Women. The original series fielded during Fisher's tenure at Lifetime included dramas "Missing" and "Wild Card."
At Hallmark, Fisher will be based in Los Angeles, reporting to Kenin. The pair previously worked together years ago while Kenin was executive vp programming at USA Networks and Fisher was a top executive at Universal, where she was president of Universal Studios Network Programming, responsible for such series as "Just Shoot Me" and "The Steve Harvey Show," before joining Lifetime.
From 1991-99, she was president of Universal Television Entertainment, where she shepherded telefilms, miniseries and original cable series including HBO's "Dream On," and added Universal Family Entertainment and Universal Cartoon Studios to her responsibilities in 1996.
Kenin said that Fisher's leadership at Hallmark, a top 10-ranked network among ad-supported cable channels in primetime and total-day household ratings, "will help catapult us to the next level."
"Barbara is a first-rate development executive with rich experience in the cable industry," he added. " I couldn't be happier to welcome her to Hallmark Channel."
Most recently, Fisher was a producer/consultant for National Geographic Entertainment, developing scripted and unscripted series and movies for television.