On the heels of a fiasco at Hallmark Channel in December in which the channel removed a commercial featuring a same-sex couple only to later apologize for the move, one of the channel’s most senior executives is leaving the company.
The Hollywood Reporter’s Live Feed reports that Bill Abbott, president and CEO of Hallmark parent company Crown Media, is out after an 11-year run.
“The news was announced Wednesday in a press release posted on Hallmark’s corporate site. A replacement for Abbott has not been determined,” THR reports.
Mike Perry, president and CEO of Hallmark Cards Inc., is quoted saying: “After 11 years, Bill Abbott, president and CEO of Crown Media, is leaving the company. I want to thank Bill for his many years of success and contributions to Crown Media and wish him continued success.”
THR adds: “Abbott’s Hallmark found itself in hot water in December when the cable network pulled four commercials that featured a same-sex wedding. The move ignited a media firestorm at Hallmark’s most financially important and visible time of year.”
One of the same-sex wedding spots can be seen below.
Hallmark Channel experienced growth under Abbott’s watch, THR notes, but at the same time the cable channel became the target of criticism over its lack of diversity.
“During the recent holiday season, the network made a big to-do about adding two Jewish holiday movies to its mix, though both of the titles featured a Jewish character being interwoven into a Christmas movie and not so much as a mention or indication of Hanukkah in their respective titles,” THR reports. “Hallmark Channel’s lack of casting diversity onscreen also became an issue of late.”