Wendie Malick to Star, Produce Hallmark Channel Movie 'Wild Horse Annie'

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The "Hot in Cleveland" actress will play Velma Johnston, an animal rights activist who campaigned to protect America's wild horses.

Hot in Cleveland star Wendie Malick is set to star in and executive produce Wild Horse Annie, a Hallmark Channel movie in development for summer 2012.

The movie is being adapted from a portion of Deanne Stillman’s epic book Mustang: The Saga of the Wild Horse in the American West. It centers on the late Velma Johnston, a leading animal rights activist who campaigned to protect America's wild horses. Her quest culminated in the U.S. Congress’ passing the Wild Free Roaming Horse and Burro Act of 1971. 

Wild Horse Annie is the triumphant story of Velma Johnston’s commitment to majestic wild horses; that they be preserved, enjoyed and celebrated by generations of Americans,” said Michelle Vicary, executive vp at Hallmark Channel and Hallmark Movie Channel. “It is an honor to memorialize Ms. Johnston’s humanity in this film."

Jenny Wingfield (Man in the Moon) is writing, with Helen Bartlett (North Country) also executive producing. Stillman is producing.

“Velma Johnston, also known as Wild Horse Annie, grabbed hold of me from the moment I read about her in Deanne Stillman's fascinating book,” Malick said. “Despite physical and emotional challenges, Johnston committed her life to getting federal protection for our wild horses and burros, saving them from cruel roundups and barbaric slaughter."