Hallmark Channel announced today that it is doubling down on its commitment to developing new original scripted series for primetime, greenlighting the 10-episode serial, WHEN CALLS THE HEART, based on the book series by best-selling author, Janette Oke. The movie pilot for WHEN CALLS THE HEART debuts on the channel on October 5, 2013, while the series will premiere in January 2014.
WHEN CALLS THE HEART is the network’s second original scripted series, following DEBBIE MACOMBER'S CEDAR COVE, which premieres on July 20 with a two-hour movie event, followed by new one hour episodes every Saturday beginning July 27.
In addition, Hallmark Channel is in development on two more pilot-to-series projects, including MY GAL SUNDAY, based on a book of short stories by best-selling author Mary Higgins Clark, and DEAD LETTERS, developed by Martha Williamson, creator of TOUCHED BY AN ANGEL.
“Adding original scripted series to our primetime lineup is the natural next step in Hallmark Channel’s evolution and one we feel will pay off in a big way for our viewers, distributors, and advertisers,” said Michelle Vicary. “And by strategically rooting these series in the vivid imaginations of master storytellers like Debbie Macomber, Martha Williamson, and Janette Oke, we simply bring our viewers more of what they already love about Hallmark Channel – just in a different form.”
Based on Janette Oke’s bestselling Canadian West series of books, WHEN CALLS THE HEART is the story of Elizabeth Thatcher, a young teacher accustomed to her high society life, who receives her first classroom post in a prairie town in the Western Frontier. She is determined to prove to her family she is brave enough to live on her own, but struggles with her own fears and doubts. But when she discovers her late Aunt’s secret diary, Elizabeth learns she was a pioneer woman herself, a teacher in the frontier who struggled with prairie life and fell in love with a Royal Canadian Mountie. Inspired by her aunt’s hopeful words and unfaltering determination, Elizabeth decides to embark on her own adventure, using the diary as her guide and family friend Edward, another Mountie, as her support. Stars: Maggie Grace, Jean Smart, Lori Loughlin, Poppy Drayton, and Stephen Amell.
Following is a more in-depth look at Hallmark Channel’s scripted series in development:
MARY HIGGINS CLARK’S MY GAL SUNDAY
Based on the book of short stories by Mary Higgins Clark, MY GAL SUNDAY follows the husband and wife crime solving duo of Sunday and Henry Parker. Parker, an ex-Vice President of the United States and Sunday, a legal aid lawyer are celebrating their first wedding anniversary when Parker assists Sunday in snaring a murderer and he takes a bullet in the arm in the process. As they later head off on a romantic weekend getaway, they are kidnapped and taken to a remote, abandoned farmhouse where the kidnapper demands the release of a dangerous, notorious former hit man. Both Parker and Sunday assume the ex-Vice President must be the target but as time ticks down and Parker becomes desperately ill from his untended wound, Sunday musters all her brilliant skills and bravado to confront and expose the kidnapper—realizing that she is his true target of vengeance. Mary Higgins Clark’s crime solving duo, is one of two new pilot-to-series projects currently in development.
Created by bestselling author Martha Williamson, DEAD LETTERS, follows a quirky quartet of civil servants in the Dead Letter Office of the US Postal System who transform themselves into an elite team of lost-mail detectives. Their determination to deliver the undeliverable takes them out of the post office into an unpredictable world where letters and packages from the past save lives, solve crimes, reunite old loves and change futures by arriving late but always miraculously on time. The intrepid bunch is led by the charming and handsome (but idiosyncratic) Oliver who still considers the stamped and mailed letter to be the gold standard of human communication. His hapless team of lost letter experts, free-spirited Rita and oddly-intuitive Norman, are thrown for a loop when a beautiful, no-nonsense technophile named Shane is mistakenly transferred to their inner sanctum. Shane inspires the lovable crew to step up in a risky and unorthodox way, beginning with a chance to clear the name of a wrongfully accused man and reconnect him with the love of his life. “Dead Letters” is one of two new pilot-to-series projects currently in development for Hallmark Channel. Premieres: October 19 at 9 p.m. ET/PT, 8C.