Corporate monicker shifts to Crown Media Networks

Hallmark Channels has changed its name to Crown Media Networks, the org announced at its Wednesday afternoon presser at Gotham’s 11 Madison Park restaurant.

“?’Hallmark Channels’ didn’t really make sense,” said CEO and prexy Bill Abbott. ”We really have to draw a distinction for the ad community and the distribution community, so it’s clear that it’s the Hallmark Channel and the Hallmark Movie Channel.”

Emeril Lagasse is joining the net with “Emeril’s Table,” in which he’ll teach non-cooks the ropes. Fifty-two half-hour episodes premiere this fall. Net has also booked Maya Angelou for a 13-episode show skedded to preem in the first quarter of 2012 and targeted for primetime.

Martha Stewart will return to Hallmark with 160 hours of programming, including “The Men Who Make Us Laugh,” featuring Conan O’Brien, among other comedians.

Crown also announced 25 Hallmark original movies, including “A Princess for Christmas” with Roger Moore. The Hallmark Movie Channel will preem four originals in 2011 and eight in 2012. And there’s a tuner — “The Music Teacher” — on the org’s development slate.

As for further programming, Hallmark has acquired “Frasier,” which premieres April 8, and it is prepping an animated special featuring a character based on a Hallmark husky pup named Jingle.

Abbott told journos that Hallmark Movie Channel is now in 40 million homes, and rated by Nielsen, making the ad sales job easier.

“Our CPMs in (the post-upfront scatter market) are double digits ahead of where we were in the upfront,” said net ad sales head Ed Georger.

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