A new network founded by former Hallmark CEO Bill Abbott is merging with Sony’s faith-based streaming service Pure Flix. Great American Family announced that the two will join forces to create Great American Adventures, a streaming service featuring family- and faith-based entertainment. “In a media environment where programming and distribution business models are in a […]
Candace Cameron Bure, Trevor Donovan, and Merritt Patterson are among the stars who will headline new movies for Great American Family this Christmas. The network, which was started by former Hallmark CEO Bill Abbott, is producing 21 original movies for the 2023 holiday season. Bure announced the news about her latest project with the network […]
Former Hallmark star Lori Loughlin is returning to TV in a new movie. Fall Into Winter will premiere on Great American Family, a new network started by former Hallmark CEO Bill Abbott. It is her second role on television following a college admissions scandal that sent the former Full House actress to prison. RELATED NEWS: […]
Great American Family will premiere the new Christmas movie Aisle Be Home For Christmas this weekend. The romantic comedy, which stars Jennifer Freeman, Garrett Watson, Jessica Ruth Bell, and Erica Duke, tells the story of two exes who get trapped by winter storms and must spend Christmas together in a big box retail store. “This […]
Actress Danica McKellar says she will put her dancing skills to use in a new film for Great American Family. “I can’t give you a lot of details yet, but I’m working on one that involves some dance, which is a lot of fun,” she said during an interview with The List. “I haven’t done […]
Actor and producer Trevor Donovan called fellow Great American Media star Candace Cameron Bure “kind and passionate about her faith.” In a recent interview with Variety, Donovan addressed the controversy that arose among some fans when Bure said her new movies for Great American Family will “keep traditional marriage at the core.” “I feel people […]
In an interview with the Wall Street Journal, the head of Great American Media says the network has no specific plan to exclude same-sex story lines from the movies it produces.
For now, Great American Family movies feature heterosexual romantic story lines, often with romance coming in a distant second to spiritual and personal growth.
In her new movie for Great American Family, Candace Cameron Bure says she is trying to get away from some of the tropes that have come to define Christmas rom-coms.
“My own kids have said, ‘Mom, are you leaving the big city and going to the farm, meeting the love of your life?’” Bure said. “Those are all fun things that we love, but we see over and over and over.
Great American Media
In recent years, Hallmark has made a push to include same-sex couples in some of its movies and television shows. Both The Christmas House and The Christmas House 2: Deck Those Halls featured a same sex couple played by Jonathan Bennett and Brad Harder. In the series finale of the popular show Good Witch, one of the show’s main characters shared a same-sex kiss with a new love interest.
Hallmark executives have said they want all audiences to feel represented in their programming.
While some fans have welcomed the changes, others have accused the company of going “woke for profit.”
Change of focus
The focus of the story in Bure’s new film for the network, A Christmas…Present, is the main character’s spiritual reawakening. Bure plays Maggie, a married mother of two who goes to visit her recently widowed brother, Paul. Though she is expecting to find Paul grief-stricken and depressed, she finds he has coped well with the loss because of his Christian faith. Maggie comes away from the experience with a renewed love of God and an appreciation for her many blessings.
While not all of the movies will have such a religious focus, many will include messages of faith, hope, and family.
“Spiritual or faith-based content is grossly underserved,” Abbott said in an interview, a sentiment echoed by Bure.
“My heart wants to tell stories that have more meaning and purpose and depth behind them,” Bure said.
Bure’s first film for Great American Family, A Christmas…Present, will premiere on Sunday, November 27 at 8/7c.
Actress Danica McKellar has moved to Tennessee. In a recent interview, the Hallmark and Great American Family star said she and her family have left Los Angeles to live on a rural homestead an hour north of Nashville.
“My husband and I have been wanting more nature for a long time,” McKellar told People magazine. “We were kind of ready to not be in a city anymore.”
In an Instagram post, McKellar said she feels like a character in one of the romantic-comedies she stars in.
“Yep, my Christmas movie characters are definitely rubbing off on me,” she wrote. “Big city life traded in for the country!”
The actress added, “I’ve lived in beautiful California my entire life; in Los Angeles since I was 7 years old. And I’ve never been happier. Excited for the seasons, too!”
Danica McKellar has moved to Tennessee
Tennessee has a special place in McKellar’s heart. Soon after she started dating her husband, Scott Sveslovsky, she had to shoot a movie on location in Kentucky. They missed each other so much that he flew to Nashville to see her and she drove an hour-and-a-half to see him. They spent a romantic weekend in Nashville and fell in love with the city.
“Memphis and Nashville are both entertainment cities. They’re known for music,” McKellar said. “Being from L.A. and being an entertainer, it’s nice to have creative people around.”
McKellar made headlines last year when she announced that she had signed an exclusive contract with Great American Family, a new network started by Crown Media Family Network’s former CEO Bill Abbott. As part of the deal, she will star in and executive produce four movies for the company.
One of these films, Christmas at the Drive-In, will premiere as part the network’s Great American Christmas lineup.
Though she is a fan of romantic comedies in general, she loves Christmas movies.
“…I think what audiences love about Christmas is this feeling of nostalgia and family and traditions and warm fuzziness,” she said in an interview. “Really, what we want is that warm fuzziness.”
A Californian born and bred, McKellar first appeared on the small screen as Winnie Cooper in the ABC program The Wonder Years, which ran from 1988-1993. After finishing the series, she went on to study mathematics at UCLA.
In her work as an undergraduate, she helped author a mathematical-physics theorem, the Chayes-McKellar-Winn theorem. She has written 11 books about math and runs a website devoted to the subject.
She continued her acting career as well, making guest appearances on The West Wing and the The Big Bang Theory. Over the years, she has appeared in the Hallmark romcoms Crown for Christmas (2015), Christmas at Grand Valley (2018), and Christmas at Dollywood (2019). She also starred in Crown Media’s Matchmaker Mysteries series.
McKellar is now living on her homestead with her husband, her son, Draco, (whom she shares with ex Mike Verta), and her mother, Mahalia. They have begun renovating their new home and they hope to eventually put in a pool, though McKellar is enjoying the trampoline they have too much to make serious plans.
The actress said she loves being around nature and her family.
“I am just loving the fact that my Christmas movie characters have rubbed off on me,” she said. “I think it’s just a wonderful example of life imitating art.”
The CEO of Great American Media believes his network will de-throne Hallmark and become the front-runner in family-friendly television programming.
“We believe we’ll be the leader in quality family entertainment in this space,” Abbott said in a recent interview with USA Today. “…That’s a lofty and challenging objective. But we think we have the team in place to do it and the experience to do it.”
Great American Media
Abbott made headlines in June 2021 when he announced he had partnered with Dallas-based Hicks Equity Partners to purchase two networks in a deal Bloomberg estimated at $90 million. Programming on the two channels began in September 2021. One network, which has been renamed Great American Family, ran romantic comedies and TV series including I Dream of Jeannie, Full House, Fuller House, Who’s the Boss, and Bewitched. The other, Great American Living, airs lifestyle programs including First Time Flippers, Aloha Builds, Growing Up Gator, and Kimberly’s Southern Kitchen.
In an interview shortly after the new networks were launched, Abbott said there was a lot of room in the market for family-friendly programming.
“There’s so much need for family content in the market and in this space,” he said. “You know, it’s pretty scary, quite frankly, the amount of content that’s out there…the vast majority of content that’s salacious and just is not appropriate for any member of the family.”
Abbott spent about 20 years with Hallmark Media — called Crown Media Family Networks at the time — where he oversaw production of TV programs such as Good Witch, Cedar Cove, When Calls the Heart, and Chesapeake Shores. He also was instrumental in launching Hallmark Channel’s Countdown to Christmas and Hallmark Movies and Mysteries’ Miracles of Christmas.
The Long Island native left the network in early 2020 and was replaced later that year by current CEO Wonya Lucas.
Great American Media has produced more than 40 original movies, including 18 new Christmas films for the 2022 season. The company has also signed deals with Hallmark stars such as Danica McKellar, Trevor Donovan, and Jen Lilley to produce and star in content.
In April, Great American Media made headlines when it signed Candace Cameron Bure to a deal.
“I’m very excited to develop heartwarming family and faith-filled programming and make the kind of stories my family and I love to watch,” Bure said in a statement through the network.
In an interview with USA Today, Bure Bure said the network will “lean into the faith element.”
For a complete list of all the new Christmas movies premiering in 2022 on Great American Family, click here.
Great American Family, the new network started by former Hallmark CEO Bill Abbott, broke records during the first weekend of its Christmas programming.
“Not all Christmas movies are created equal,” wrote Abbott in a post on Twitter. “We understand better than anybody how to produce quality Christmas movies and that, great content wins. Viewers have found that in our #GreatAmericanChristmas programming event on #GreatAmericanFamily!#DestinedAtChristmas.”
Not all Christmas movies are created equal. We understand better than anybody how to produce quality Christmas movies and that, great content wins. Viewers have found that in our #GreatAmericanChristmas programming event on #GreatAmericanFamily! 🎄🎬#DestinedAtChristmas pic.twitter.com/ieL6wPR1Nq— Bill Abbott (@billabbottHC) October 27, 2022
Great American Family
The new network, which was launched in September 2021, started its Great American Christmas lineup with the original movie Destined at Christmas. The movie had .54M total viewers in its premiere and just shy of 1 million total viewers over the weekend, according to Nielsen ratings. It was the highest-rated premiere for the network. The movie also beat out Hallmark Movies and Mysteries programming on Saturday among women ages 25 to 54.
“Great movie,” wrote a fan on Great American Family’s Facebook page, “not the same story line as most Hallmark movies.”
“This was an amazing and romantic movie!!!” another wrote. “Thank you!!”
Destined at Christmas
The first new movie to premiere in the Great American Christmas lineup starred Shae Robbins and Casey Elliott as two strangers who meet during a power outage while doing their Black Friday shopping. They can’t stop thinking about each other. With the help of a little Christmas magic, they are reunited.
Destined at Christmas is one of 18 new Christmas movies to air on Great American Family. Others include A Merry Christmas Wish, starring Jill Wagner and Cameron Mathison; Christmas at the Drive-In, starring Danica McKellar and Neal Bledsoe; and I’m Glad It’s Christmas, Jessica Lowndes, Paul Greene, and Gladys Knight.
Candace Cameron Bure made headlines when she announced she had partnered with the network to produce and star in content. Her Christmas movie, Candace Cameron Bure Presents: A Christmas…Present, will premiere in November.
During a March 2022 interview, Abbott talked about his two new networks, Great American Family and Great American Living, and his attempt to expand the realm of family-friendly programming on television.
“Not all rom-coms are created equal,” Abbott said. “Just because someone makes a rom-com doesn’t mean that it has a lot of heart and emotion.”
For a full schedule of the new movies premiering during Great American Christmas, click here.