Odyssey Network, as expected, will soon bear a new name.
Hallmark Entertainment and Crown Media Holdings Inc. will relaunch Crown's
Odyssey as Hallmark Channel this summer.
Part of Crown's strategy to create a global television network, Odyssey's
revamp will take effect Aug. 6 and be supported by a multimillion-dollar
promotion and advertising campaign. Those efforts will showcase a new on-air
look and a comprehensive graphics package reflecting the Hallmark name and
In addition to its U.S. channel, Crown plans to relaunch all of its global
outlets under the Hallmark banner.
During a conference call with reporters and the investment community to
announce the network's rebranding, Crown president and CEO David Evans said that
as part of recent negotiations with the National Interfaith Cable Coalition --
which owns a 9.7 percent stake in Crown -- the company will work with the group
to develop a 24-hour digital-cable network.
Going forward, spiritual/faith/values programming will be reduced from 40
hours per week on Odyssey to 14.5 hours, largely in early morning and afternoon
time slots. Additionally, Hallmark Channel will work with the NICC to produce
primetime specials around holidays such as Christmas.
Hallmark Channel U.S. president and CEO Margaret Loesch also announced
several new programming projects that are being produced in association with
Hallmark Entertainment, slated to air on the network later this year.
The channel, currently in 29.5 million homes, will premiere a pair of
miniseries: Johnson County War, penned by Pulitzer Prize-winning author
Larry McMurtry (Lonesome Dove); and Stranded, a four-hour family
adventure inspired by Johann David Wyss' classic novel, Swiss Family
As for series, the network has three projects on tap: one-hour drama
Lincoln Hall (working title), which goes inside a high-school philosophy
course designed to bring relevancy to the lives of its students; The
Neverending Story, a half-hour skein pegged from Michael Ende's best-selling
novel; and Telling Storieswith Tomie dePaola, a half-hour series
from The Jim Henson Co. featuring the works of the illustrator and
On the movie front, Hallmark will air Scandal in Bohemia, the third in
a series of films based on Sherlock Holmes short stories.
Looking ahead to 2002, Loesch said, the network plans to present three
original four-hour miniseries, at least eight original telepics and another trio
of new original series.