A week after announcing it was severing ties with Lori Loughlin in the wake of her and husband Mossimo Giannulli facing criminal conspiracy charges in the college cheating scandal, the Hallmark Channel is announcing two new Christmas-themed projects.
On Thursday, Hallmark announced it had ordered two new Christmas series to premiere during the holiday season: “Project Christmas Joy: Alabama” and “Christmas Cookie Countdown”.
According to Hallmark’s announcement, “Project Christmas Joy: Alabama” is a reality series that “will give a town in need an extreme Hallmark holiday transformation. From an extravagant Christmas tree lighting to a Main Street makeover, this series will spread holiday cheer for a town that needs it the most.”
“This show aligns perfectly with Hallmark Drama’s exclusive offering of original content,” said Bill Abbott, president and CEO of Crown Media Family Networks, Hallmark Channel’s parent company. “We look forward to bringing Hallmark holiday joy to a special town in Alabama for the 2019 Christmas season.”
“Christmas Cookie Countdown” is a five-episode competition series that will feature “some of the most talented amateur home bakers around the country and the most exciting yuletide cookie challenges the holiday season has ever seen,” with a panel of pastry chefs serving as judges while a rotating group of Hallmark stars will host.
“The ‘Christmas Cookie Countdown’ gives Hallmark Drama signature content that can’t be seen anywhere else,” added Abbott. “This good-natured competition is a great addition to Crown Media’s tradition of celebrating the holidays on-air and we have every confidence it will resonate strongly with our viewers.”
Hallmark’s news follows the network’s announcement last week that it was pulling the plug on Loughlin’s “Garage Sale Mysteries” franchise. “We are saddened by the recent allegations surrounding the college admissions allegations,” said a rep for Crown Media Family Networks. “We are no longer working with Lori Loughlin and have stopped development of all productions that air on the Crown Media Family Network channels involving Lori Loughlin including ‘Garage Sale Mysteries’, an independent third party production.”
Although not specified in the statement, this also means Loughlin will no longer appear in Hallmark Channel’s popular series “When Calls the Heart”; while no official announcements have yet been made, a source told Deadline that producers were seeking “creative solutions” about what to do with Loughlin’s character, which could include recasting the role or writing the character out of the show.
According to the source, the Vancouver-shot series is “absolutely not cancelled,” but “all options are being explored on how to take the already filmed episodes forward without Loughlin.”