TV Critics Tour: Actors Weigh In During Hallmark Presentation


Beverly Hills, Calif.—The Hallmark Channel's presentation at the Television Critics Association was equal parts TV movie promotion and current events commentary, with classic TV stars asked to comment on everything from ageism in Hollywood to the prospects for an actor's strike.

For instance, former president of the Screen Actors Guild, Ed Asner, starring in the upcoming Generation Gap was first asked about his assessment of the chance of a strike by his union. 

“I have no idea. I doubt it. This town has been fairly terrorized this year,” he said, apparently referring to the strike by the Writers Guild of America. "(Actors) realize the tremendous cost.”

Asner said he would vote for a strike, but added he feels he's in the minority.

Writers were also wary about the producer of Asner’s movie, Faith & Family Entertainment. Dave Kenin, executive vice president of programming for the channel, said the movie is not overtly religious but focuses on mentoring and positive morality.

In other panel discussions:

-- One thing viewers will not see on the Hallmark Channel is an original Dr. Quinn Medicine Woman movie. Jane Seymour, who stars in the upcoming Dear Prudence, responded to writers that the series is owned by CBS, but “I have all the clothes,” she quipped. She added she hopes to make more movies based on the Prudence character, suggesting that she wanted former Quinn co-stars to join her in future Hallmark telefilms.

Asked why Hallmark wouldn't turn Prudence into a series, Kenin said Hallmark's audiences have responded positively to two-hour telefilms.

Seymour said she's enjoyed the move into comedic roles, but since her role in Wedding Crashers, her husband has asked her to “lay off the cougars” for a while.

-- Donna Mills and Florence Henderson, co-stars in the upcoming Ladies of the House, both decried the lack of roles beyond the Hallmark Channel. Asked if other networks are focused on fresher faces or the next new thing, they answered “Yep.”

Hallmark addresses boomers, Henderson said, “and advertisers forget we're the ones with the most money.”

Henderson didn't have much positive to say about reality shows, especially VH1's The Surreal Life which featured her TV son, Christopher Knight. Henderson said Knight was pressed to become engaged on the show and turned to Henderson for counseling, as his own mother had died.

“They didn't like my advice at all,” she said, adding she was asked to return to their subsequent reality show to counsel the couple. “I said I'd come counsel the divorce,” she said wryly.

-- The channel, as part of its marketing of For the Love of Grace, a love story involving a firefighter, has created a cookbook related to the movie. The net is also making a donation to the National Fallen Fighters Association.

-- Moonlight & Mistletoe, a November feature, will actually debut in a “limited theatrical release” in Vermont, where the movie was filmed.

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