‘Fame’ not fleeting

Hallmark's 'Hall' reups with CBS for 3 years

HOLLYWOOD — CBS will remain the exclusive home of original “Hallmark Hall of Fame” pics through May 2005 under a three-year deal between the cardmaker and the net.

Deal kicks in next season and calls for the Eye to air four Hallmark-produced films per season. The “Hall of Fame” franchise, which begins its 50th season next month, has been exclusive to CBS since 1995.

“The Hallmark Hall of Fame presentations are among the most creative and successful longform productions on television, and (are) perfectly suited for our Sunday night audience,” CBS prexy and CEO Leslie Moonves said. “We’re honored to continue the partnership with our friends at Hallmark.”

Hallmark Prods. VP Jan Parkinson said the cardmaker’s relationship with CBS execs “has been wonderful.”

Mutual admiration

“It’s strengthened through the years in large part due to the interest of Leslie Moonves,” he said. “When you have interest at the top, it permeates through the entire organization.”

At least one other network bid for the rights to the “Hall of Fame.”

Kansas City, Mo.-based Hallmark develops and produces pics for the “Hall of Fame” on its own, with Richard Welsh serving as exec producer on almost every project for the past 16 years. CBS then markets and broadcasts the films, with Hallmark paying the Eye for all commercial time.

Cardmaker uses its “Hall of Fame” features as a marketing tool to promote its various products.

“We want the audience to feel that the time they’ve spent with us has been time well-spent,” Parkinson said.

Long history

“Hall of Fame” franchise grew out of the company’s sponsorship of the radio program “Hallmark Playhouse.” For a while, pics aired exclusively on NBC; from 1979 until 1995 they rotated among all the major nets.

Among the franchise’s major ratings grabbers over the past decade: “Sarah, Plain and Tall,” “What the Deaf Man Heard” and “The Love Letter.”

Upcoming projects include “In Love and War,” airing Nov. 18 and “The Seventh Stream,” starring Scott Glenn.

Hallmark Prods. and the “Hall of Fame” pics are run independently of Robert Halmi’s Hallmark Entertainment and the recently launched Hallmark Channel. Pics are distributed by Halmi’s org, however.

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