HALLMARK CHANNEL ANNOUNCES NEW ORIGINAL MOVIES TO AIR THROUGHOUT THE REMAINDER OF 2007
Valerie Bertinelli, Ernest Borgnine, Dean Cain, David Carradine, Brian Dennehy, Faye Dunaway, Anthony Michael Hall, John Schneider, Kevin Sorbo and Tiffani Thiessen, Among Others, Star in Upcoming Originals
"Phantom of the Opera" Makes its Basic Cable Premiere on Hallmark in June
New York City, March 27, 2007 � At a special presentation this morning, Hallmark Channel announced new original movies that will air throughout the remainder of 2007. The originals include: "Love's Unending Legacy," "A Stranger's Heart," "Pandemic," "Marco Polo," "You've Got a Friend," "Avenging Angel," "Claire," "Son of the Dragon," "Love's Unfolding Dream" and "A Grandpa for Christmas." The network will also be the exclusive home of the basic cable premiere of "Phantom of the Opera" in June.
Hallmark Channel is the nation's leading provider of high-quality, family programming, as seen through its dramatic ratings growth. 2006 was the network's best year ever and the channel ranks among the top 10 ad-supported cable networks, week-after-week and month-after-month.
Throughout the remainder of 2007, Hallmark Channel will continue to offer viewers a solid line-up of original movies featuring star-studded casts, including: Valerie Bertinelli, Ernest Borgnine, Dean Cain, David Carradine, Brian Dennehy, Faye Dunaway, Anthony Michael Hall, John Schneider, Kevin Sorbo and Tiffani Thiessen, among many others.
"Love's Unending Legacy"
Missie LaHaye (Erin Cottrell, "Love's Abiding Joy") returns to her childhood home after the death of her husband to begin a new life. She reluctantly takes in teenage orphan Belinda (Holliston Coleman, "Medium"), who implores her to rescue her 7-year-old brother, Jacob (Braeden Lemasters, "ER"), who is suffering abuse at the hands of his adoptive parents. Aiding Missie in her rescue efforts are Pastor Joe (Hank Stratton, "Las Vegas") and Sheriff Zach Tyler (Victor Browne, "One Life to Live"). Both men are also potential suitors, but Missie's grief may prevent her from a new chance at happiness. "Love's Unending Legacy" is the fifth installment of the popular "Love Comes Softly" series based on the best-selling novels of Janette Oke. The original movie premieres Saturday, April 7 (9 p.m., ET/PT).
"A Stranger's Heart"
Samantha Mathis ("American Psycho") stars as Callie, a workaholic magazine writer who must undergo an operation to replace her failing heart. While waiting in the hospital for the operation, she meets other people who are awaiting transplants, but their choice to feel optimistic about their situation does not mirror Callie's feelings, and the eclectic group takes her under their wing. When her procedure is successful, Callie becomes a new woman. Although she tries to reclaim her old life and resume the hectic pace she had become accustomed to, she finds that her work no longer consumes her the way it once did as her eyes have been opened to new possibilities for her life. Instead, she finds herself strangely drawn to a young girl (who happens to be the heart donor's orphaned daughter). She also finds romance � for the first time in her life � with a fellow heart transplant patient. Peter Dobson ("Forrest Gump"), Kevin Kilner ("Raising Helen"), Gina Hecht ("The District,") and Mary Matilyn Mouser ("NCIS") also star in "A Stranger's Heart" premiering Saturday, May 5 (9 p.m., ET/PT).
When a young man dies on a flight from Australia to Los Angeles, the other passengers are quickly put into quarantine. As hundreds of similar deaths emerge, the CDC is called in to assess and treat a new virus which is suspected to be the cause. Tiffani Thiessen ("What About Brian"), French Stewart ("3rd Rock From the Sun"), Faye Dunaway ("Network"), Vincent Spano ("Blood Ties"), Bob Gunton ("Shawshank Redemption") and Eric Roberts ("Heroes") star in this fast-paced adventure about a pandemic spreading its way across Los Angeles and killing thousands of residents. "Pandemic," a three-hour Hallmark original movie event, premieres Saturday, May 26 (9 p.m., ET/PT).
Assigned to accompany two priests on a mission to convert the court of Kublai Khan (Brian Dennehy, "First Blood") to Christianity, Marco Polo (Ian Somerhalder, "Lost") is abandoned in the mountains when the priests, doubting the very existence of China, turn back. Polo eventually pushes bravely forth alone toward the fabled country where he is accepted as an envoy into Khan's court. Marooned on the far side of the world, Polo, accompanied by his servant Pedro (B.D. Wong, "Law & Order: SVU"), advances as a Mongol grandee for 20 extraordinary years. What he eventually brings back with him to the West is a chronicle that changed history forever. "Marco Polo," a three-hour Hallmark original movie event, premieres Saturday, June 2 (9 p.m., ET/PT).
"You've Got a Friend"
After 12-year-old Bobby Graham's (Dylan McLaughlin, "The Guardian") parents are killed in an automobile accident in his native San Diego, he's sent to live with his father's brother, Jeff (Jason Brooks, "Boston Legal"), and his wife, Gayle (Kate Connor, "Heroes"), in small town Eagle Rock. The couple find themselves instant parents, struggling to learn the ropes. Bobby dreams of building the soapbox derby racer car that he and his dad designed, but his uncle scorns the idea, preferring Bobby spend his spare time at the family hardware store. Bobby secretly finds a mentor in the town loner, Jim Klecan (John Schneider, "The Dukes of Hazzard"), the former town champ of yesteryear. Klecan, a Vietnam vet and handyman, is derided by most of the town for his isolated lifestyle, but provides the friendship and mentoring the young boy needs to become a champ. "You've Got a Friend" premieres Saturday, June 9 (9 p.m., ET/PT).
A young preacher (Kevin Sorbo, "Hercules: The Legendary Journeys") is charged with making a life or death decision when a rag tag group of families seek refuge in his church, on the run from the powerful Colonel Cusack and his lawless gang. As a man of God, the preacher begs the outlaws to spare their lives and respect the sanctity of the church. Sadly, the church is destroyed and everyone inside is killed. Because of the sad events, the preacher turns away from God and the church and vows to avenge the incident as a bounty hunter. Years later, the preacher returns to his town to discover that Colonel Cusack has taken over and lawlessness rules. The preacher meets Maggie, a former dance hall girl, and her young daughter Amelia. Through his relationship with Maggie, the preacher examines his loss of faith and when he discovers Colonel Cusack's murderous plans for wiping out a small religious community, he is called to action against the evil forces to protect the innocent. "Avenging Angel" premieres Saturday, July 7 (9 p.m., ET/PT).
Valerie Bertinelli ("One Day at a Time") stars as a widowed mother reluctantly forced to use her psychic powers to protect her friends and family from a mysterious killer terrorizing her community. Bertinelli plays Claire Bannion, a widowed mother of two daughters who lives with the gift � and curse � of extrasensory perception (ESP). It is something that has tormented her ever since she "saw" her husband die in a fishing accident two years earlier, but was powerless to prevent. But now, when neighbors are suddenly and brutally murdered seemingly at random Claire reluctantly agrees to use her unique skill to assist in the police investigation. "Claire," a Hallmark original murder-mystery movie premieres Saturday, August 4 (9 p.m., ET/PT).
"Murder 101: If Wishes Were Horses"
Dick Van Dyke returns as Dr. Jonathan Maxwell in the third installment of the "Murder 101" movie series where the criminology professor with a steel-trap of a crime-solving mind is brought in to help solve the kidnapping of a prized race horse that turns into a complicated case of murder and fraud. After the kidnapping, the family who owns the horse receives a ransom call which they agree to pay, but instead of recovering the horse, they are led to a burning barn. With Detective Mike Bryant (Barry Van Dyke, "Diagnosis Murder") at his side, the duo suspects foul play and their investigation uncovers a plot which seems to implicate the horse's owner. "Murder 101: If Wishes Were Heroes," a Hallmark original mystery movie, premieres Saturday, August 11 (9 p.m., ET/PT).
"Son of the Dragon"
When the Royal Family decides to accept suitors for the hand of Princess Li Wei (Desiree Siahaan, "Marco Polo"), a young thief who calls himself �Devil Boy' (John Reardon, "White Chicks") decides to pose as a prince in order to swipe the crown jewels. To his surprise, he ends up genuinely falling in love with the young woman, placing himself and his faithful servant (David Carradine, "Kill Bill: Vol 2") in the crosshairs of the dangerous Prince of the North (Rupert Graves, "V for Vendetta"). "Son of the Dragon," a three-hour Hallmark original movie event, premieres Saturday, September 1 (8 p.m., ET/PT).
"Love's Unfolding Dream"
Belinda's (Scout Taylor Compton, "13 Going on 30") dream of a career in medicine is challenged by the town's resident doctor who feels society is not ready for a woman physician. When a wealthy socialite comes to town and is nursed back to health by Belinda, she offers to put her through medical school. When Drew Simpson (Patrick Levis, "The King of Queens"), a handsome stranger, comes to town to settle his deceased uncle's affairs, Belinda must decide if it's possible to be in love and follow your dreams. Her medical expertise is tested when she nurses the very wealthy Boston socialite, Mrs. Stafford Smith (Nancy Linehan Charles, "Huff"), back to health. Mrs. Smith is so impressed with Belinda's abilities that she offers to pay for medical school. "Love's Unfolding Dream" premieres Saturday, November 24 (9 p.m., ET/PT) as a Hallmark original holiday movie.
"A Grandpa for Christmas"
Ernest Borgnine ("Marty") stars as Bert, a retired song and dance man looking forward to retiring. Jamie Farr ("M*A*S*H") and Katherine Helmond ("Who's the Boss?") also star in this story about a man long estranged from his daughter, Marie (Tracey Nelson, "The Father Dowling Mysteries"), and granddaughter, Becca, (Juliette Golgia, "Cheaper By the Dozen 2"), and the new family he's developed with a group of friends. When Marie is hospitalized, it's up to Bert to care for Becca and it's clear the two generations are worlds apart. Through a love of music and dance, Bert and Becca bond and become a family. When Marie is healthy enough to come home, she and Bert reconcile past wounds and for the first time ever, celebrate Christmas as a family. "A Grandpa for Christmas" premieres in Saturday, December 1 (9 p.m., ET/PT) as a Hallmark original holiday movie.
"A Reason to Believe"
This holiday-themed original movie tells the story of a family who faces significant life challenges and must come together to find ways to turn their obstacles into new opportunities and ultimately create their own holiday magic. "A Reason to Believe" premieres in December.
"Phantom of the Opera"
In addition to a full slate of new original movies, Hallmark Channel will air the basic cable premiere of "Phantom of the Opera," starring Gerard Butler ("Tomorrow Never Dies") and Emmy Rossum ("Poseidon"), and based on Andrew Lloyd Weber's Broadway musical. The movie will debut on Hallmark on Saturday, June 30 (8-11 p.m., ET/PT).
Hallmark Channel, owned and operated by Crown Media Holdings, Inc., is a 24-hour basic cable network that provides a diverse slate of high-quality entertainment programming to a national audience of over 76 million subscribers. The top tier program service is distributed through more than 5,300 cable systems and communities as well as direct-to-home satellite services across the country. Hallmark Channel consistently ranks among the top 10 ad-supported cable networks in Prime Time and Total Day household ratings and is the nation's leading network in providing quality family programming. Crown Media also operates a second 24-hour linear channel, Hallmark Movie Channel.