Hallmark Upfront Report: 'Movie Pilots' Move Network Toward Scripted Series -- Daytime Block Gets Marketer-Friendly 'Home & Family'
Hallmark Channel is looking into producing its first original scripted series, using two TV movies based on popular novels as potential springboards, parent Crown Media said at the network's upfront presentation to media buyers in New York on Wednesday.
Hallmark Channel has also acquired cable syndication rights to "The Middle" starting in 2014.
The network is moving toward the possible original series by producing "movie pilot" versions of Debbie Macomber's "Cedar Cove" and Janette Oke's "When Calls the Heart" to air in the 2012-2013 season.
Hallmark Channel has previously stayed away from original scripted series, instead focusing on its original TV movies and daytime programming, but has been considering expanding that strategy.
Hallmark Channel also confirmed that Marie Osmond will join the network for a one-hour talk show titled "Marie," which will premiere in the fourth quarter of this year. Ms. Osmond's show will feature celebrity guests, her own family and friends, and discuss topics such as cooking, parenting and entertaining.
A new two-hour talk show called "Home & Family" will round out Hallmark Channel's daytime. The show, which is currently casting its two hosts, will be shot in a house on the Universal Studios lot and cover everything from decorating and DIY projects to balancing a budget and raising a family. "Home & Family" will also begin broadcasting in the fourth quarter.
"'Home & Family' is a marketer's dream," said Ed Georger, exec vp of ad sales. "Brands can be a part of the solutions in every part of the home in the show."
Hallmark Channel will show the final new episodes of Martha Stewart's talk show in September.
Both the likely original scripted series and the daytime programs will be wholly owned and operated by the network for the first time, presenting an opportunity for the company to "extend beyond the linear channel," Mr. Georger said.