EXCLUSIVE: Slammed with a new money laundering charge today, Lori Loughlin hasn’t entered a plea yet in the college bribery scheme. However, fans of her former series When Calls the Heart will know very soon exactly when the Hallmark Channel is coming back from its self-imposed hiatus.
At around 11 AM PST tomorrow, WCTH viewers who DVR the show based on Janette Oke’s book of the same name will see a special message pop up on their TVs, I’ve learned. That announcement from series lead Erin Krakow will reveal when the revamped WCTH will be back for the rest of its sixth season.
After “creative solutions” have been put in place for the pink slipped Loughlin’s Abigail Stanton character and new edits finished, the show is expected back sometime in the next month, I hear.
Just two days after Loughlin and 32 other parents were indicted by the FBI and the U.S. Attorney for the District of Massachusetts in the nationwide investigation, the Crown Media owned outlet terminated its relationship with the actor. Later on March 14, Hallmark Channel hit the pause button on When Calls the Heart’s March 17 episode.
Though Hallmark stressed repeatedly that Heart wasn’t cancelled, new and completed episodes of the show have not returned to the channel since as producers figured out how to rework the already filmed episodes and deal with Loughlin’s character – who is oddly is still to be seen on the show’s social media feeds.
Coming off a cable topping and undoubtedly WCTH fueled first quarter, Hallmark Channel had no comment on the show’s return when contacted by Deadline today.
In recent days, however, it does seems a solution of sorts had been reached as WCTH EP Brian Bird tweeted out on March 29 that a return date had been set. The EP also told a fan that “you’ll just have to wait along with the rest of the #Hearties until we’re ready to announce it.”
Just under two weeks ago, Bird added:
The still UTA-repped Loughlin and her fashion designer husband Mossimo Giannulli were arrested as part of a yearlong investigation that also snared American Crime star Felicity Huffman and more than 30 other parents. Expressing “shame” in her actions, Huffman announced yesterday that she would enter a guilty plea in the matter, possibly in an attempt to cut down probable jail time.
With prosectors aiming for the actor to serve jail time, Loughlin and Giannulli are accused of paying “bribes totaling $500,000 in exchange for having their two daughters designated as recruits to the USC crew team. This phony designation successfully pursued was despite the fact that “they did not participate in crew — thereby facilitating their admission to USC,” according to the unsealed 200-page indictment.
Like the other parents, Huffman, Loughlin, Giannulli and ex-STX board member Bill McGlashan are being charged with conspiracy to commit mail fraud and honest services fraud, according to the unsealed March 6 “Operation Varsity Blues” indictment. The charge could see all facing a maximum of 20 years behind bars and fines of $250,000 “or twice the gross gain or loss,” according to the feds.
Likely intended to strongly encourage Loughlin, Giannulli and McGlashan to cop a plea or make a deal, the new money laundering charge also sees a max of 20 years prison time, three years of supervised release and a fine of $500,000 or “twice the value of the property involved in the money laundering,” says today’s second superseding indictment.
Taken into custody on March 13 after returning to L.A. from filming Hallmark’s now canned Garage Sale Mysteries in Vancouver, the Aunt Becky also of Full House and now Fuller House fame was arraigned before Judge Steve Kim. Like her husband, Loughlin was released on a $1 million bail bond and allowed to travel only within the continental U.S. ahead of an April 4 preliminary in Boston.
However, unlike Huffman, who was released on a $250,000 bail bond back in March, and Giannulli, Loughlin was also granted the ability by Judge Kim to travel to Vancouver for work on the multiple Hallmark projects she had signed on for – which seems a dead letter office now
The once Abigail Station won’t be back for more When Calls the Heart, clearly Hallmark Channel is – sooner, rather than later.