Hallmark channels its holiday p’gramming

Cabler, stores to cross-promote each other

This winter, Hallmark Channel will roll out an aggressive programming strategy tied to holidays throughout the year that will capitalize on its relationship with 4,500 co-owned Gold Crown greeting card stores across the country.

“It will be a massive integration,” Hallmark Channel exec VP of programming David Kenin told Daily Variety Tuesday during the Television Critics Assn. Tour in Pasadena.

Hallmark Channel and the card stores will cross-promote each another during the holidays, with the stores potentially airing network fare on in-store TV screens. Hallmark Channel is targeting such holidays as Thanksgiving, Christmas, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, Valentine’s Day, Independence Day and Halloween, Kenin said, adding that Hallmark mounted a “pilot project” tying Father’s Day with the original movie “Stranded.” “That was sticking our toe in the water,” Hallmark Channel topper Lana Corbi said of the Father’s Day effort.

More specific information on the corporate cooperation is likely to emerge in coming weeks.

The big holiday push will be between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day, when the cable network plans to premiere several specs and at least four original longforms, including four-hour miniseries “Snow Queen,” starring Bridget Fonda.

Among the movies on tap for the winter holidays are “Santa Junior” and “Boyfriend for Christmas,” which like “Snow Queen” are produced by Hallmark Entertainment. Kenin described “Santa Junior” and “Boyfriend for Christmas” as “contemporary, light and relationship-driven.” They are in the process of being cast. “Snow Queen” is set to debut Dec. 7.

Meanwhile, the network has set its encore run of ABC’s Hallmark-produced mini “Dinotopia” for primetime in mid-November. The Hallmark run of “Life Moments,” an upcoming syndicated show from Paramount and Pie Town Prods., is set to kick in on Sept. 16, likely at 7 p.m. Mondays through Fridays.

Channel also announced details of two upcoming original longform projects, “Johnson County War” and “The Last Cowboy.”

Larry McMurtry and Diana Ossana’s four-hour “Johnson County War” will preem on Hallmark Channel Aug. 24. Tom Berenger, Burt Reynolds, Luke Perry, Rachel Ward and Michelle Forbes star in the epic, fact-based Wyoming ranching story.

Jennie Garth and Lance Henriksen star in “The Last Cowboy,” a two-hour pic preeming in December. Bradley Cooper and M.C. Gainey also star. Garth stars as a young woman reluctantly reunited with her estranged dad for her maternal grandfather’s funeral.

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