The Hollywood Reporter interviewed Bill Abbott, CEO of Crown Media Family Network, who is responsible for Hallmark Movie Channel and the popular Count Down to Christmas movie programming that starts late in October and runs through Christmas.
Abbott talked to podcasters who framed Hallmark’s programing as “heteronormative”, and applied pressure to use a Democrat activist actress from the politicized Handmaiden’s Tale, for his future movies.
At a time when the left has been very successful getting business, like Chick-fil-A restaurants to change their brand, Hallmark stands firm that they do not want to change their movie formula or their brand.
Abbott was asked by THR, about adding diversity to his brand, and he said, “our brands is so strong and centered around holidays and things to celebrate. We are confident in our brand because it is hard for others to do holiday themes. We have been around for 100 years,” he said.
Asked if Netflix making inclusive holiday-themed movies has caused him concern, Abbot said no they like their brand, “we have upped our game and cast stories that have differentiated us from the competitors.”
Abbott said Hallmark movies are “relentlessly positive, family-friendly and always appropriate for all family members, and you won’t find that on Netflix.”
“We haven’t lost projects to Netflix. We have passed on projects that Netflix picked up. We are vigilant over our brand. We want to be consistent with our brand,” he said.
The Hollywood Reporter, reported on their own interview after pressuring the CEO on air, to see if he would change his company brand, and pushed their own narrative further by reporting that Hallmark was “struggling”.
In their article about their Hallmark interview, THR said, “While other networks are viewing the holidays with an eye toward inclusion, Hallmark is delivering the dream of a white Christmas, just like the one’s audiences used to know,” The Hollywood Reporter, wrote.
The Hollywood Reporter started the buzz:
— QNotes (@qnotescarolinas) December 3, 2019
However, Abbott was confident on the podcast that he understood his audience. “We are a family co-viewing experience a guilty pleasure at the holidays. People feel comfortable to watch the movie all the way to the end without feeling uncomfortable and getting the remote,” Abbott said, happy about their place in the holiday movie market.
Asked why there were not any Christmas movies with Hannukah in the title, he said, “It is difficult to make movies from the point of view of other religions at Christmas, we want to stay clear of religions and controversy,” he said. “The importance is in the content and not the title”.
The host pressed Abbot by demanding, “at times when others like Netflix are serving underrepresented communities, you sound like you are going the opposite way. Others are getting their time in entertainment as underrepresented audiences,” she said.
“Do you want to be inclusive and represent the society we are in?” She asked. “My wife and I are not included in any of your movies and I want my nieces to see people who reflect my wife and I,” she said.
Unfazed, he responded,”Considering all things, we make the movies where the best scripts are delivered,” said Abbott.
The activist crowd has been posting online speculations that Hallmark will be bowing to Social Justice Warrior demands to change Hallmark programming, which they view as white and Christian, by highlighting far-left activist actress, Elizabeth Moss.
Moss was interviewed by a small film festival crew, and her comments were picked up by CNN, who reported that Moss said, “I’m into it, I want to do it. People who write should definitely write one for me,” she said. “I actually would love to do a Hallmark Christmas movie!”
The host recalling Moss’s pitch, “She even had a loose plot in mind, including a twist where her character would turn sinister,” the host told Abbott.
Hi. If anyone knows Elizabeth Moss, please tell her once she's finished work on Taika Waititi's next film I have a really charming idea for a Hallmark film I'd like to run by her. No one dies. Or is held against their will and forced to make babies. K thnx.
— Paul Campbell (@ThePaulCampbell) November 14, 2019
Abbott was confident that was not a good idea to make a movie for her. “We would have to remake our model. We have beloved content. It is not easy for everyone or every situation to fit the mold to work with us,” Abbott said.