Hallmark greets ‘Prudence’ telepic

Jane Seymour to star in two-hour movie

The Hallmark Channel has given the go-ahead to “Dear Prudence,” a two-hour backdoor pilot starring Jane Seymour as the host of a TV show who has a sideline: helping people solve mysteries.

Les Alexander, co-author of the original script and co-executive producer, said if the movie scores with viewers when Hallmark schedules it in late summer, “Prudence” could go back into production for one or more two-hour movies.

Alexander and his partner Jonathan Mitchell, a financier, plan to spend $2.8 million on an 18-day shoot, an unusually expensive TV movie for Hallmark, whose license fee will come to about $1.8 million.

Dave Kenin, executive VP of programming for Hallmark Channel, is high on “Prudence” and said the network plans to pull out all the promotional stops, pairing it with three other weekly original movies for the month of August when the broadcast networks will be mostly in reruns.

A series for “Prudence” is unlikely because Hallmark has never greenlit a weekly scripted series in its 5½-year history. But Hallmark carries a mystery-wheel night of programming where two-hour movies rotate, featuring such stars as Lea Thompson (“Jane Doe”), Dick Van Dyke (“Murder 101”), John Larroquette (“McBride”) and Kellie Martin (“Mystery Woman”).

In “Prudence,” Seymour’s TV personality is an expert in all things home and garden who stumbles on a murder mystery while vacationing in Santa Fe. Her expertise gives her as much ability to spot clues as a forensic expert.

“Prudence” is the first TV movie from Alexander/Mitchell Prods., which last month kicked off its first independent theatrical movie, called “Chess,” about the record industry, a $12 million project directed by Jerry Zaks, which begins shooting April 8 in New Orleans.