Hall of Fame will have to go elsewhere

Exclusive: In a sign of the times for the telepic biz, CBS has opted not to renew its agreement with the Hallmark Hall of Fame, ending a 16-year association between the network and the storied TV movie franchise.

The Eye net notified the Kansas City-based company that it wasn’t interested in extending their three-pics-a-year deal under similar terms several months ago but remained receptive to potentially carrying movies on an ad-hoc basis. Hallmark passed and, according to sources, is still negotiating to secure a new home for the prestigious 60-year-old banner.

CBS recently aired the 243rd Hallmark Hall of Fame entry, “Beyond the Blackboard.” The feel-good movies are traditionally scheduled three times a year: a few weeks prior to Christmas, Valentine’s Day and Mother’s Day. They carry fewer commercials than most network fare and promotethe greeting-card company to a heavily female audience.

“This is a partnership that has served CBS very well for many years,” a network spokesman said, confirming the split. “Hallmark Hall of Fame is a first-class organization, and we wish them nothing but success in their future.”

Given that CBS is performing reasonably well with series on Sunday night, it was no longer as easy for the network to accommodate preemptions for movies. The only other semi-regular telepic franchise on CBS now is the “Jesse Stone” series, starring Tom Selleck and distributed by Sony. Another installment, subtitled “Innocents Lost,” will air May 22.

Introduced in 1951, “Hall of Fame” originally aired for nearly 30 years on NBC, then moved to PBS and ABC before landing on CBS in the mid-1990s.

Hallmark refers to the Hall of Fame as the “most-honored program” in TV history, having amassed 80 Emmys, nine Golden Globes, 11 Peabody Awards and four Humanitas Prizes.

Hallmark couldn’t be reached for comment. On the company’s website, though, chairman Donald Hall, son of the company’s founder, says of the Hall of Fame: “It continues to work its magic on our image to a degree I cannot fully explain. I am not aware of any such vehicle, in or out of television, available to any other company, with such a positive impact.”

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