Hallmark books Newhart, Bisset and more old faves
There's former 7th Heaven star Stephen Collins will star in The Ride of Her Life; Jacqueline Bisset has a holiday pic in the works called Thanksgiving Reunion, which will air in November; and Pam Grier, Florence Henderson (The Brady Bunch) and Donna Mills (Knots Landings) will headline Ladies of the House, about three women from the same church who team up on a home renovation project.
Bob Newhart, though, is perhaps the biggest get, having starred in two great sitcom successes, The Bob Newhart Show and Newhart. In Herb's Murders, he'll be an L.A. detective investigating the murder of a publisher and his daughter, who's also a cop.
At their Manhattan upfront, Hallmark also announced it'll be airing The Golden Girls in a nonexclusive deal with Disney-ABC starting in March 2009, as well as an order for 99 (not 100?) family films with the Mouse network. The channel launches Hallmark HD on April 2.
If it seems like Hallmark is reaching out to an older demographic, that's there intent. Their core demographic is baby boomers (those born between 1946 - 1964). Casting well-known, remembered stars in TV movies is key to reaching that demographic. Boomer grew up watching shows like The Bob Newhart Show, The Brady Bunch, Knots Landings and The Golden Girls. Once upon a time, in the 1980s and 1990s, former TV programming executive Fred Silverman started a production company and sold series with familiar old faves -- Andy Griffith in Matlock, William Conrad in Jake and the Fatman, Dick Van Dyke in Diagnosis Murder and Carroll O'Connor in In the Heat of the Night.
Hallmark also has new McBride and Murder 101 mystery movies for this summer, and the network will also present Mark Consuelos (All My Children) as a widower who falls in love again in Saving Grace, and Teri Polo (The West Wing) in Second Honeymoon.