New York - Hallmark Channel is developing two original
scripted primetime series, a first for the independently owned cable network,
it announced at its upfront event here Wednesday afternoon.
The two series, scheduled for a 2013 premiere, are based on
concepts from authors Debbie Macomber and Janette Oke, both who have had their
work previously developed for movies on Hallmark Channel and Hallmark Movie
Channel. Bill Abbott, president and CEO of Crown Media Family Networks, called
the scripted development "a major move forward for the network."
Macomber's Cedar Cove
centers on characters in a small Pacific Northwest 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 staring in the fourth quarter. The
program replaces The Martha Stewart Show
on the channel, which will end original episodes in April and continue in
repeats throughout the summer. The network's agreement with its other Martha
Stewart Living Omnimedia programs like Mad
Hungry with Lucinda Scala Quinn runs through 2013.
In a first for the network, both new daytime shows will be
wholly owned and operated by Crown Media Family Networks.
Joining Marie in
the fourth quarter is the new daytime series Home & Family, a hosted series originating from a
Midwestern-style, 2800-square-foot house on the Universal Studios lot. The
two-hour series from creator Woody Fraser, whose hosts are to be announced,
will feature segments on design, home improvement, automotive, gardening and
cooking, among others.
Also announced Wednesday, Hallmark has acquired Warner
Bros.' The Middle for a March 2014
debut on the network.
In original movies, Hallmark Channel has 28 movies in
production to premiere in 2012-13 and Hallmark Movie Channel has nine new
movies on its 2013 production slate. The channel wills also begin production on
the animated special Jingle & Bell
for the 2012 holiday season, the second special based on the Hallmark Cards
character Jingle the Husky Pup.