Christmas Season Time of Really Big Cheer at Hallmark Channel

kellie martin christmas ornamentThe Hallmark Channel gang was in a celebratory mood at the holiday soiree and premiere screening of its new “The Christmas Ornament” at L.A.’s The Grove the other night — with good reason. As pointed out by CEO Bill Abbott just prior to the showing, The Hallmark Channel’s “Countdown to Christmas” programming earned the channel the No. 1 spot in cable for the past two weekends running.

Those who believe it’s impossible to attract an audience without profanity, violence or nudity, take note. “Christmas Ornament” stars Kellie Martin and Cameron Mathison were among the stars present for the pre-screening party at nearby La Piazza. (Kellie’s support retinue included her husband, attorney Keith Christian, their seven-year-old daughter Maggie, her parents and in-laws.) Also there was Hallmark Channel fave Candace Cameron Bure, who has her own movie premiering on the network Nov. 30, “Let It Snow” — in which she plays a hard-charging hotel executive charged with transforming a ski lodge into a modern winter hotspot, and stripping away its quaint Christmas traditions. Other Hallmark Channel names were on hand for the fun as well, including Bruce Boxleitner, Barbara Niven and Dylan Neal of “Cedar Cove.”

A tale about a grieving widow who thinks she’s going to skip celebrating Christmas until Hallmark Channel-style things begin to happen, “The Christmas Ornament” is just the thing for those who prefer more sugar than spice in their holiday fare.

It’s the latest in a string of Hallmark Channel movie for Martin, the former “Life Goes On,” “Christy” and “ER” actress. According to her, “They’ve been so great to work with for so long. I’ve worked with them since 2004. That’s when — I think that’s when I did the first ‘Mystery Woman,’ or maybe 2003.”

Martin took time away from her career from Maggie’s birth to the start of school. “I got her ready and into kindergarten totally solid, no changes with mom. Mom was not working.” Now, the former child star and Yale grad says she weighs prospective assignments as they come. “I’m having a lot of fun with Hallmark.”

As for whether Maggie might follow in Mom’s footsteps, Martin makes it clear she will have to wait: “I told her she can act after she goes to college. If she still wants to do it when she’s old enough to take herself on auditions, she can do it.” Meanwhile, she’d like Maggie to focus on being a kid.