Tag Archives: Hallmark Channel

Hallmark Channel's screening for "Northpole: Open For Christmas," premiering Saturday, November 21 on Hallmark Channel, part of the network's widely popular Countdown to Christmas programming event. This year the network rolls out 17 original movie premieres in November and December.  Photo: Bailee Madison, Lori Loughlin, Dermot Mulroney  Credit:  Copyright 2015 Crown Media United States, LLC/Photographer:  jeremy lee/Alexx Henry Studios, LLC

Lori Loughlin, Cameron Mathison Thankful at Hallmark Soireee

Hallmark Channel's screening for

Hallmark Channel’s screening for “Northpole: Open For Christmas,” premiering Saturday, November 21 on Hallmark Channel, part of the network’s widely popular Countdown to Christmas programming event. This year the network rolls out 17 original movie premieres in November and December. Photo: Bailee Madison, Lori Loughlin, Dermot Mulroney Credit: Copyright 2015 Crown Media United States, LLC/Photographer: jeremy lee/Alexx Henry Studios, LLC

Lori Loughlin is feeling immense gratitude as this Thanksgiving rolls around. The actress has the Hallmark Channel’s simply delightful “Northpole: Open for Christmas” original movie, which debuted Nov. 21. She has more of her “Garage Sale Mystery” movies in the pipeline for Hallmark Movies & Mysteries. And, of course, she’ll be seen again as Aunt Becky in Netflix’s “Fuller House” redux next year.

We caught up with Loughlin at the Hallmark Channel unveiling of the “Northpole” sequel at Hollywood’s The Grove the other night. “I feel so lucky, I feel so blessed. I’ve been working a lot in really wonderful projects with really wonderful people and I’m so fortunate,” she said. “I can’t even believe, actually, that at my age I’m working as much as I am right now.”

Loughlin, who has been married to designer Mossimo Giannulli for 16 years and has two also-gorgeous teenage daughters, looked smokin’ hot in a red lace Elie Saab jumpsuit at the magical holiday event. How does she manage to stay so slim and fit? “I work out. I do a lot of yoga. I do a workout called Body by Simone,” she said. “It’s like a dance cardio class with some free weights. The combination of those now is mostly what I’ve been doing.”

loughlin jumpsuitShe stars along with Dermot Mulroney and adorable 16-year-old Bailee Madison (reprising her elf role) in the tale of a high-end valuation appraiser who inherits her aunt’s run-down New England Inn — of course not knowing that the place is a secret power station for Santa Claus.

The mood was certainly celebratory, as Hallmark Channel President & CEO Bill Abbott announced that more than 75 million viewers tuned Hallmark Channel’s Countdown to Christmas fare last year.
Even Santa couldn’t have come up with a better gift.

A young bakeshop owner’s holiday season takes a surprising turn when she finds a body at a local Christmas tree lot and winds up involved in a dangerous murder investigation. With colorful characters popping up as suspects, shady business practices uncovered at the tree lot and holiday romance in the air, the young baker-turned-sleuth must race against time to track down the killer and save the Christmas season. Photo: Alison Sweeney, Cameron Mathison Credit: Copyright 2015 Crown Media United States LLC/Photographer: Bettina Strauss

MEANWHILE: Cameron Mathison was also on hand for the “Northpole: Open for Christmas” event — with his and Alison Sweeney’s “Murder, She Baked: A Plum Pudding Mystery” set to debut Sunday, Nov. 22, on Hallmark Movies & Mysteries. “It’s such a treat for me to walk away from the madness of everyday life and make a movie with Alison Sweeney,” notes the “Entertainment Tonight” anchor. “I can hardly wait for the next one to start.”

In fact, the third “Murder, She Baked” movie is already a wrap, and a fourth one is likely to go into production next year. Mathison says that when he went full-time on “E.T.,” it was with the understanding that he would occasionally take on acting assignments.

“It was something we brought in that didn’t take much convincing; it wasn’t make or break,” he recalls. “I think a lot of the ‘E.T.’ audience fits in nicely with Hallmark Channel. It’s a nice supplement.

“All of us on ‘E.T.’ have other things we do,” adds Mathison.

The real juggling challenge is between his peripatetic professional life and his life as a dad to his and wife Vanessa’s 12-year-old son and 9-year-old daughter. “I try to be as hands-on as humanly possible,” he says. “When I’m away, we Skype and FaceTime. I am literally on in the background all the time.”

Not at Thanksgiving, though. Mathison and his family will be spending part of the holiday week on SoCal slopes. They’re also planning a ski getaway to Colorado at Christmas.

“It’s a full and fun time,” he says.

‘Dynasty’ Reunion a Blast From the Past for Cristina Ferrare

ferrerePower suits. Shoulder pads. Catfights. Nobody did the ’80s prime-time soap better than the series that put the nasty in “Dynasty.” Now the Hallmark Channel’s “Home & Family” is bringing together members of the Carrington clan with the latest in their vintage TV reunion specials, coming up Monday, Jan. 26.

The recent “Knots Landing” reunion show “went over so well, three days after it aired, the producers told me next we were going to do ‘Dynasty,'” says “Home & Family” co-host Cristina Ferrare.

Pamela Sue Martin, John James, Al Corley and Gordon Thomson are among the names you can expect to see. And you never know who might Skype in — as Alec Baldwin did for the “Knots Landing” show.

It’s a blast from the past to Cristina — and not just because she herself used to wear fabulous “Dynasty”-worthy Nolan Miller gowns. Recall that her husband, Tony Thomopoulos, was the head of ABC back when “Dynasty” ruled the airwaves. Tony and his Max Factor supermodel cum TV hostess bride, Cristina, were one of Hollywood’s dazzling power couples. She’d meet the casts of his shows at various industry events, “do the wife thing, say ‘Hello’ and be gracious,” she recalls. Also, having been co-host of the popular “AM Los Angeles” for four years, Cristina met pretty much every show business luminary out to tout their latest projects.

For the Cleveland born-and-raised Cristina, it was a dream come true. “I was like a little girl caught up in this amazing fantasy — sitting with people like Jimmy Stewart and Lucille Ball.”

She notes, “The whole town was so different then.”

Indeed, things were quite different in the four-network universe, when everyone was watching the same shows, before the fragmentation of TV into dozens of outlets and hundreds of viewing choices.  “Home & Family” remains a bastion of show business of, well, a homier and more family style than much of television now.

“That’s what makes us so unique — no make believe ‘reality,’ no shock value. We have real life problems and humor,” says Ferrare, who is in her third season of the show co-hosted by Mark Steines. “We cook and play games. We shoot the show in a real house.”

Their house is in the middle of the Universal Studios Hollywood lot, but hey, it’s still real — which is a bit like Cristina herself. Much as she is part of the show business milieu, she remains relatable to her admiring audience, coming off as down-to-earth, charming and warm — the neighbor everyone would like to have.

She and Tony have now been together 31 years. The former network honcho currently has projects in the works at Sony Television and with the BBC. “He loves producing,” she says.

What’s their secret to a long-lasting marriage in (of all places) Hollywood?

“A sense of humor,” she answers. “We argue — but we argue laughing. We are each other’s best friend.

“And our family — our kids are everything to us. We have seven children — two from my first marriage, three from his, and our two together. Everyone gets along with everyone. It’s always family, family, family.”

And food, naturally, considering Cristina’s culinary gifts. “Home & Family” viewers have seen daughters Arianna and Alex whipping up delectable items along with their mother. Alex has been pursuing cooking and comedy, in fact, and Cristina says she may just have her own show one of these days. “She’s really funny.”

This Hero Dog Has a Canine Cause

Hero Dog Awards 2014

Donna Smith Lawrence and Suzie at left. The AHA Hero Dog Awards 2014 feature hosts Beth Stern and James Denton

In 2009, Donna Smith Lawrence and her husband saw a TV news report about a puppy that had been found with severe burns on her body, her ears burned off, a broken jaw and teeth. The North Carolina hairdresser told her husband she wanted to adopt that dog. It was an astonishing statement — especially in light of the fact that Donna herself had spent weeks in the hospital recovering from a horrific pit bull attack by an abandoned animal in her neighborhood.

The Lawrences nursed the puppy they called Susie back to health. Infuriating many, the man who had so cruelly burned and beaten her was sentenced to probation only. At the time, North Carolina law did not criminalize animal abuse. Donna and Susie got busy — and today the state has “Susie’s Law,” which makes animal cruelty a low-level felony.

On Thursday night (10/30), viewers will have the chance to see Donna and Susie, now a certified therapy dog, being honored at the 4th Annual American Humane Association’s Hero Dog Awards on the Hallmark Channel. The celebrity-studded award show features compelling story after compelling story of amazing canines. Susie’s and Donna’s story of triumph and forgiveness brought tears to the eyes of many in the audience in the Beverly Hilton Hotel ballroom.

Susie, however, seemed to enjoy basking in the adulation and glamor. She looked divine in a purple tutu and a strand of faux pearls for the formal event. “She’s kind of used to it,” admits Lawrence with a smile. “She was just a little star, just standing up there on stage, just taking it all in. She didn’t seem to mind at all. That’s kind of her trademark, pearls and tutus,” she adds.

Susie’s rise to fame began with the campaign to get her animal cruelty law on the books. She and Donna visited communities across the state, manned booths at events to get petitions signed, answered questions. Eventually, they took their case all the way into the state house in Raleigh. “We took her right up in front of the Senate and the House and let them see first hand what animal cruelty looked like. I think that’s what really made the powerful difference, ’cause it’s one thing to talk about an animal being abused but when it’s someone marching the animal right up in front of you, you can’t deny it.”

Susie’s abuser wouldn’t have been penalized even to the extent that he was if the assistant district attorney on the case hadn’t thought of prosecuting him on grounds of attempted destruction of personal property. Susie had belonged to the abuser’s girlfriend. “If the girlfriend had shown up in court and said, ‘I don’t care that he burned my dog,’ he would have got nothing,” says Lawrence. “I think her parents kept her away because of all the publicity.” Not surprisingly, Susie’s abuser has gone on to other incidents of trouble with the law.

Since news broke of Susie’s Hero Dog win, Lawrence has been deluged with emails. “I get emails from people who want to get the laws changed in their states: How can I do this? We want to do this here. People just want this epidemic of animal abuse stopped. And that’s how we stop it — to make it a national movement to stop animal cruelty. There are states that have great laws, but others don’t. North Dakota and South Dakota don’t. North Carolina was in the top five worst; the laws hadn’t been changed in 100 years. Alabama has pretty good animal cruelty laws now. Because of a dog that was burned that was named Gucci, they have a law called Gucci’s Law. That dog passed away.” Lawrence and Susie continue their lobbying efforts even as the pooch does her humanitarian work, visiting children, the aged, the disabled, always with her silent message that there can be a bright future even for those in despair.

Susie’s story is not only of victory, but of healing. After her pit bull attack, Lawrence, understandably, had a dread fear of dogs. Susie, she says, “got me over that. I felt God was saying to adopt her and ‘I have great plans for you. From this day forward you will no longer be afraid of dogs,’ and I haven’t been. It’s like Susie opened my eyes to where I don’t have to live in fear. Because, you know, she trusted humans again after what happened to her. I thought, ‘If she can trust humans, I can trust dogs.’ So, you know, she really helped me overcome that fear.”

These days, Susie keeps a full slate of public appearances — and there will be even more now that she is the Hero Dog Award winner of this year. There’s already a movie about her, “Susie’s Hope,” that stars Emmanuelle Vaugier. It fared well on the festival circuit, had a small theatrical run, and can now be found on Netflix, at Walmart, Best Buy and other outlets.

“It’s a really good movie and everybody’s loving it,” Lawrence lets us know. “And it’s a really good tool for the work we’re doing.”

A documentary for 2015 is also on the way. Oh, and Susie has a little toy line of her own – including plush therapy dogs that feature the pit bull mix’s trademark pearls and instead of ears, furry little nubs on their heads.

At age five, she is happy and healthy.

Lawrence adds, “I’m glad Susie won because of what she represents.”