When the success of Hallmark Channel's twinkly Christmas films, its other themed rom-coms and wholesome series became undeniable, more networks wanted a piece of that pie.
Now, one of Hallmark's former leaders is seeing if there's room for a whole new pie.
Headed by Bill Abbott, who used to run Hallmark Channel, GAC Family's tagline is "Stories Well Told," and it's focusing on family-friendly, including holiday-themed, movies and series that celebrate American culture, heritage and lifestyle.
Along wih an autumn rom-com on Oct. 23 -- An Autumn Romance, with Chad Michael Murray and Jessica Lowndes -- to get things started, GAC Family appears to be fully ramped up to get a running start to capture the Christmas-movie audience. And, Abbott is working a career's worth of contacts to make it happen.
To kick things off, two hosts of the cancelled Hallmark Channel series Home and Family, Debbie Matenopoulos and Cameron Mathison, present a special called Welcome to Great American Christmas (Saturday, Oct. 16 -- moved up from the original date of Oct. 24).
The special launches the channel's Great American Christmas franchise -- aiming straight at the mainstream heartland audience. And they won't have to wait long.
First up is Much Ado About Christmas on Oct. 30. It stars Susie Abromeit (Jessica Jones), who starred in Hallmark's A Perfect Christmas. She just inked a deal with GAC Family.
Under the pact, Abromeit will star in four original films on the cable channel and host GAC Family Original Movie Nights.
Audience faves like Jennie Garth, Mathison, Jen Lilley, Brendan Fehr, Becca Tobin, Dewshane Williams and Rukiya Bernard appear in upcoming Christmas films.
Also on deck for a film with Sara Canning is former When Calls the Heart star Daniel Lissing -- but that's not all he's doing.
According to Heavy.com:
GAC Media previously announced that Lissing will star in a secret role in the two-part premiere of “When Hope Calls” season 2 on December 18.
“When Hope Calls” is a spinoff to Hallmark’s “When Calls the Heart.” It was originally on The Hallmark Channel’s streaming network, but the new season will air on GAC Family.
Another fan favorite is on the way to When Hope Calls. Coming off a two-month prison stint for her involvement in the Varsity Blues college-admissions scandal, longtime When Calls the Heart star Lori Loughlin is reprising her role as Abigail Stanton in the spin-off series.
When the news came out, series co-creator and executive producer Brian Bird wrote in a Facebook post:
Justice and mercy are two sides of a coin called grace. So this happened today.
The GAC Family Great American Christmas schedule is still evolving, but click here to see what we know so far.
GAC Family and its unscripted sibling GAC Living are available as a cable-TV channel on a variety of cable systems. Click here for more info on that.
Also, GAC Family/GAC Living has struck a deal with streamer FrndlyTV. Click here for more on that. FrndlyTV is a virtual multichannel video programming distributor (vMVPD) that provides wholesome programming at a low price, such as the Hallmark channels, UPtv, Insp and BYUtv.
Image: GAC Family
Kate O’Hare, a longtime entertainment journalist, is Social Media Content Manager at Family Theater Productions.