Hallmark Hall of Fame's 'Away & Back' Keys Net's January Lovefest

Skeds 6 Movies; '30th Birthday' Opens Valentine's Day Gambit
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Hallmark Channel, reaping the Nielsen benefits of its "Countdown to Christmas" programming play, is also setting its sight on a strong start to 2015 with a half-dozen new telefilms.

The network will usher in 2015 with the debuts of six new original movies, including the Hallmark Hall of Fame world premiere of Away & Back, starring Minka Kelly and Jason Lee.

The sixth telefilm, 30th Birthday, with Megan Park, Benjamin Hollingsworth, Dean Cain, will kick off another channel gambit, Countdown to Valentine's Day.

“Viewers expect Hallmark Channel to take them on a romantic escape and now we are delivering countless hours of romance, love, laughter and joy to celebrate a new year,” said Michelle Vicary, executive vice president of programming, Crown Media Family Networks. “These uplifting stories, including Away & Back, will bring the magic and beauty of romance to the delight of millions.”

The January Hallmark Channel original movie world premieres, as described by the programmer:

‘SURPRISED BY LOVE’

A Hallmark Channel Original Movie World Premiere

Saturday, January 3 (9p.m. ET/PT, 8C)

Starring: Hilarie Burton, Paul Campbell, Malcom Stewart, Wanda Cannon, Leanne Lapp, Aaron Craven and Tim Conway

Josie Mayfield (Burton), a no-nonsense businesswoman working at her father’s prosperous cookware company, thinks her boyfriend Richard (Aaron Craven, “Gracepoint”) is the perfect man – handsome, successful and driven. The problem is that Josie’s parents, Joseph and Claire (Malcom Stewart, “My Boyfriends’ Dogs” and Wanda Cannon “Heartland”), do not agree. When Josie meets up with Gridley (Campbell), an underachieving, old high school flame (who still has a crush on Josie), Richard dreams up a plan to make himself look good to Josie’s parents: Gridley will be Josie’s date at Joseph and Claire’s upcoming anniversary party. When Joseph and Claire see Josie with a “loser,” they’ll give anything to have Richard back in the picture. At least, that’s the plan.

‘A NOVEL ROMANCE’

A Hallmark Channel Original Movie World Premiere

Saturday, January 10 (9p.m. ET/PT, 8C)

Starring: Amy Acker, Dylan Bruce, Camille Mitchell, Tammy Gillis, Casey Manderson, Emily Tennant, Milo Shandel, Chris Shields and Charles S. Dutton

Romance novelist Liam Bradley (Bruce) has already found massive success with three books written under the pen name Gabriel August, mysteriously unknown to his legions of readers.  With his first book written as a way to heal after a broken relationship, Liam has slowly become disheartened with writing strictly for romantic fantasy, something evident to a sweet, but honest, journalist who reviews books, Sophie Atkinson (Acker), whom he meets by chance on a plane.  The two begin a tentative relationship in Sophie’s home town of Portland, Maine, where Liam has come to find inspiration for his newest entry.

‘LOVE BY THE BOOK’

A Hallmark Channel Original Movie World Premiere

Saturday, January 17 (9p.m. ET/PT, 8C)

Starring: Leah Renee, Kristopher Turner, John Schneider, Ryan Bittle, Stefanie Powers, Cherilyn Wilson, Cuyle Carvin, Michael Ensign

After a childhood filled with reading fairytales, bookstore owner Emma (Renee) believes in handsome princes and happily ever afters.  Unlike her happily married coworker Marilyn (Powers), Emma has yet to be swept away by her own prince charming.  Trying to both find an idyllic love life and impress her store’s investor, Frank (Schneider), Emma balances time dating romantic suitor Landon (Ryan Bittle, “All My Children”) and time at her store with Frank’s nettlesome son, Eric (Kristopher Turner, “Saving Hope”).  Although Landon demonstrates real knight and shining armor potential with his romantic overtures, he doesn’t understand her priorities or support her passions like Eric does.  As Emma weighs fairytale courtship against genuine commitment, she learns that real love has more layers than storybook romances.

‘BRIDAL WAVE’

A Hallmark Channel Original Movie World Premiere

Saturday, January 24 (9p.m. ET/PT, 8C)

Starring: Arielle Kebbel, Andrew W. Walker, David Haydn-Jones and Jaclyn Smith

As her wedding day draws near, Georgie Dwyer (Kebbel) has doubts surrounding her plans to marry Dr. Phillip Hamilton (Haydn-Jones), a dashing and prominent plastic surgeon. Georgie’s anxiety level soars when an extravagant wedding ceremony is arranged at a romantic island resort. Preferring things low-key and simple, Georgie feels she’s lost control of her own wedding, as well as her life. Though Phillip qualifies as the “perfect” fiancé, Georgie feels a romantic spark is missing in their relationship. Tensions rise even further when Phillip’s sophisticated mother, Felice (Smith), blatantly frowns upon Georgie’s working class origins. On the picturesque island, Georgie keeps finding herself in chance encounters with Luke Griggs (Walker), a scruffily handsome ex-architect, who walked away from a high-end architectural firm to enjoy a simple, no-frills life.  When an undeniable chemistry develops between Georgie and Luke, Georgie must decide if she’s going to move ahead with her rapidly approaching marriage to Phillip.

‘AWAY & BACK’

A Hallmark Hall of Fame World Premiere Presentation

Sunday, January 25 (8p.m. ET/PT, 7C)

Starring: Jason Lee, Minka Kelly

When a family of swans make their home on the Peterson farm, it’s love at first sight for 10-year-old daughter Frankie.  But along comes no-nonsense ornithologist Ginny Newsom (Kelly), who rushes in to “save” the majestic birds.  For Frankie’s dad Jack (Lee), it’s dislike at first sight when he encounters pushy, know-it-all Ginny. Frankie and her brothers are anything but neutral observers as they watch the initial hostility between their widowed father and the strong-willed Ginny transform into something else.  Could that be romance in the air?

‘30TH BIRTHDAY’

A Hallmark Channel Original Movie World Premiere

Saturday, January 31 (8p.m. ET/PT, 7C)

Stars: Megan Park, Benjamin Hollingsworth, Dean Cain

Lindsay Corwin (Park) is a long-time believer in birthday wishes and she has wished for everything over the years from a puppy to a promotion.  As she approaches her 30th birthday, Lindsay laments to her best friend Dave (Hollingsworth) that not one of them has ever come true and her life is nothing like she envisioned.  Still just an assistant at her green product firm, and reeling from her latest dating disaster, Lindsay is ready to give up on her long wish list.  But when Dave throws her a surprise 30th birthday party, Lindsay resolves to blow out her candles and make one final wish: for all of her wishes to come true. Within days, Lindsay’s 30 years of wishes start to become a reality.  Her divorced parents reconcile, she loses weight, is promoted at work, wins a brand new house and even gets a special kiss from her favorite TV star (Dean Cain).  Then, Lindsay meets Reed (Lemke), a passionate environmental tycoon who could fulfill her best wish of all: finding Mr. Right.  As Lindsay and Reed begin a whirlwind romance too good to be true, Dave longs to tell her about his own deepening feelings for her.  But soon, Lindsay’s new dream life starts to fall apart and threatens to compromise her character, her friendships and her potential for true, lasting love.

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