Hallmark Channel made a slew of announcements today in conjunction with its upfront:
— The network officially announced a new daily daytime talk show hosted by Marie Osmond, which is slated to replace the departing Martha Stewart Show. Titled Marie!, the one-hour afternoon talker will start production shortly for a Q4 premiere. Associated Television International is producing. Additionally, Hallmark announced another new daytime series, Home & Family, which also will launch in Q4. Created by Woody Fraser, it has received an order for 220 two-hour shows over 44 weeks.
— Hallmark Channel, known for its original movie franchise, is venturing into scripted series with the active development on two original series for a 2013 premiere. Both potential dramas, Cedar Cove and When Calls The Heart, are based on concepts from authors whose books have been previously adapted into original movies for Hallmark Channel and Hallmark Movie Channel: Debbie Macomber and Janette Oke, respectively. Hallmark has greenlighted movies/backdoor pilots for both, and they will be produced this year for broadcast next season. Cedar Cove, executive produced by Dan Wigutow and Michael Scott, centers on the residents of the small town of Cedar Cove. When Calls the Heart is a period romantic drama that tells the story of Elizabeth Thatcher, a beautiful, wealthy young woman from the East Coast who has a passion for teaching but a fear of leaving the safety of her comfortable world. “In Hallmark Channel’s 10-year history, the network has produced a number of successful movie franchises that we know have the story potential to go forward as episodic programs,” said Hallmark president and CEO Bill Abbott.
— Hallmark Channel has acquired off-network rights to ABC/Warner Bros’ comedy The Middle and will begin airing the first 88 episodes beginning March 2014. Additional seasons will join the rotation as they become available. The deal is non-exclusive as Warner Bros recently sold The Middle to ABC Family for a fall 2013 launch. The series has also been cleared in more than 92% of the country for broadcast syndication. On Hallmark, The Middle will join repeats of such comedies as The Golden Girls and Frasier.