Former Hallmark star Lori Loughlin returns to TV in January in a new movie for Great American Media. The When Calls the Heart star will headline Fall Into Winter for the new network, which was started by Hallmark’s former CEO.
“Lori is a genre-defining star that I have had the honor to call a close friend and collaborator for more than 15 years,” said Great American Media CEO Bill Abbott in a statement. “We have a shared vision for creating meaningful and memorable movies that resonate with our passionate fans, and I look forward to welcoming her back to Great American Family to anchor our 2023 winter programming slate.”
Lori Loughlin returns
Loughlin has largely been absent from the small screen following her involvement in a college admissions bribery scandal. In March of 2019, the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Massachusetts charged 50 people with falsifying their children’s test scores and athletic abilities to gain admission to top universities. Both Loughlin and her husband, J. Mossimo Giannulli, pleaded guilty to charges of wire and mail fraud. She served two months in prison, paid a $150,000 fine, and was ordered to complete 150 hours of community service.
Following her star role on the ABC sitcom Full House, Loughlin starred as widow Abigail Stanton on the popular Hallmark series When Calls the Heart for five seasons. She was in the middle of shooting Season 6 when news of the scandal broke. The show took a month-long hiatus as writers and producers decided what to do with her character. They eventually wrote her out of the show.
But series co-creator Brian Bird later said he would love to bring Lori back.
“If anyone should return to Hope Valley, it should be Abigail,” he said in a June 2021 interview.
He got his wish in a roundabout way. In December 2021, Loughlin played Stanton in a Christmas special for When Hope Calls, a spinoff series of When Calls the Heart. The special was produced not by Hallmark but by Great American Family.
Great American Media was founded by Abbott following his departure from Hallmark Media in 2020. The company launched two new channels, Great American Family and Great American Living.
The company has already produced more than a dozen made-for-TV romantic comedies and has many more in the works.
Fall Into Winter is slated for a January premiere. In the movie, Loughlin plays Keely, who is aghast when her brother sells his half of their family-owned, upscale candy shop to his best friend from high school, Brooks. Keely and Brooks have never been able to get along, but they are forced to work together in order to save the business. It’s possible romantic sparks will fly.
In an interview with Variety, Abbott called Loughlin “America’s sweetheart.”
“At the end of the day, she represents all that is positive about entertainment, and has had a stellar career,” he said. “Not only on screen, but also the way she’s conducted herself personally, in terms of being someone who has a track record of doing the right thing in the world at large, aside from whatever happened. I don’t know the details. She’s beloved and for good reason.”