Originals will deck the halls, find 'Love'

Hallmark Channel is ramping up its original movie plans and will announce that it has 30 pics in the pipeline at today’s opening-day session of the Television Critics Assn. confab.

Net has picked up rights to the next two installments in the “Love Comes Softly” franchise, based on Janette Oke’s series of eight novels that deal with relationships in the Old West. An adaptation of the seventh title, “Love Takes Wing,” is in production and will air in the first quarter of 2009; Cloris Leachman and Hayley Duff star. An adaptation of the final title, “Love Finds a Home,” is still in the script stage and has not yet been cast.

There are four holiday films on the way, including “The Christmas Choir,” which is set to air on Dec. 6. In 2006, Hallmark drew strong ratings with “The Christmas Card,” starring Edward Asner, who was nominated for an Emmy Award.

Other upcoming pics include “Accidental Friendship,” with Chandra Wilson and Ben Vereen (Nov. 15); “An Old Fashioned Thanksgiving,” with Jacqueline Bisset (Nov. 22); and “Expecting a Miracle,” with Jason Priestley and Teri Polo (Jan. 3).

Net will also have more of an online presence with “Hallmark on Location,” a behind-the-scenes entertainment show.

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