Hallmark Enters Scripted Arena


New York — Hallmark Channel is developing two
original scripted primetime series, a first for the independently-
owned cable network, as part of an upcoming
programming lineup laid out for advertisers
and reporters last Wednesday (March 14) in New York.

The two series, scheduled for a 2013 premiere, are
based on concepts from authors Debbie Macomber and
Janette Oke, both of whom have had their work previously
developed for movies on Hallmark Channel and Hallmark
Movie Channel.

Macomber’s Cedar Cove centers around a small town,
while Oke’s When Calls the Heart is a period drama about
a wealthy young woman from the East Coast who becomes
a teacher in a frontier town. Both series have movies
in production to air as back-door pilots in the 2012-13
season, with the series to debut later in 2013.

Hallmark also confirmed it has signed a deal with Marie
Osmond to host a new one-hour daytime talk show —
Marie! — to air weekday afternoons starting in the fourth
quarter. It will supplant ratings-challenged The Martha
Stewart Show
, which ends original episodes on Hallmark
in April and continues in repeats throughout the summer.
The network’s agreement for other Martha Stewart
Living Omnimedia programs runs through 2013.

Hallmark has full ownership and production control
over Marie!, a position that will allow the network to
market and promote the series on other distribution platforms,
according to network officials.

“We think that Marie speaks to our core audience
— our audience already knows and loves her and the
full range of the 25-54 demo responded positively to
her,” Michelle Vicary, executive vice president of programming
for the two Hallmark channels, said. “She
understands what it takes to make a show successful
in terms of integrating her brand with our brand.”

Preceding Marie! will be a new daytime series
Home & Family, launching in the fourth quarter. The
hosted series will originate from a Midwestern-style,
2,800-square-foot house on the Universal Studios lot.
The two-hour series from creator Woody Fraser, with
hosts yet to be announced, will feature segments on
design, home improvement, automotive, gardening
and cooking.

Andrea Morabito of

Broadcasting & Cable

to this report.