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Hallmark Splits From CBS, But Not From Studio City

Hallmark headquarters to remain in Studio City despite new deal with ABC, production execs say.

—a Studio City staple for more than 20 years—has  ended its 16-year partnership with CBS and formed a new deal with ABC for the 2011-12 TV season. The new partnership will premiere Hallmark Hall of Fame movies exclusively on ABC. A week following their first airing on ABC, these movies will be aired on the Hallmark Channel four times over a weeklong period.

Brad Moore, president of Hallmark Hall of Fame Productions who has offices both in Kansas City, MO, and Studio City, said that the recent departure of Hallmark from CBS was amicable. The decision to make a deal with ABC instead, he said, was simply a matter of “a slight difference in programming direction and a better fit for us and for them and I think CBS, in terms of what they’re wanting to do with their programming; we didn’t fit quite as well anymore, and we fit pretty well at ABC.” 

Although the is practically a neighbor to Hallmark in Studio City, ABC seemed to be a natural transition for Hallmark, especially due to the higher female-based programming apparent on the current ABC shows. 

Cameron Johann, head of development at Hallmark Hall of Fame Productions in Studio City, said CBS wanted to go in a different direction with its Sunday-night programming and possibly do one movie at a time, with Hallmark bringing each project to CBS on an individual basis and CBS then deciding whether it would air the movie or pass on it. 

However, Hallmark wanted a long-term deal, and found it, signing a multi-year deal with ABC.

Even though Hallmark’s movies will now be airing on ABC, Johann explained, “we are not shifting in any significant way, in terms of how we are set up to develop and produce material, although each network has its own interests. ABC is going to have different interests than CBS is and I’m sure that we’ll do our best to marry our interests with theirs and find a happy medium where everybody can feel comfortable. It only benefits us to be in business with ABC in a positive way and make movies that they obviously feel proud of having.”

This new pairing of Hallmark and ABC will come together right before Christmas to show its first film, Have a Little Faith, based on Mitch Alboms’ best-selling book. Albom also wrote the screenplay. The movie stars Laurence Fishburne, Bradley Whitford and Martin Landau. It will be executive produced by Brent Shields and directed by Jon Avnet.

Despite its split from CBS, Hallmark appears to have no plans to move out of Studo City, although Moore jokingly said, “If and the move out to Burbank, we’re going with them.”

Studio City is still a perfect location for Hallmark, which has a long history there, Johann said.

“Studio City is wonderfully diverse and central, and we enjoy the community here," Johann said. "I believe we just inked a new deal on the lease in this office building, so we’re here. We’re not going anywhere.”

The effects of the new partnership between Hallmark Hall of Fame Productions and ABC will be evident after the premiere of Have a Little Faith. However, with all of the positivity surrounding this partnership, it seems as though Hallmark may have found a happy marriage with ABC.

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