GAC Family's roster is filling up with your favorite Hallmark stars.
Newly rebranded network, Great American Family, has been making waves among fans of the family rom-com and specifically those associated with Hallmark Channel. Previously known as Great American Country, the network was bought by a group of investors that includes former Hallmark Media CEO Bill Abbott.
The network was rebranded and relaunched as Great American Family along with a sister network, Great American Living, which will showcase their lifestyle brand.
Why are Hallmark stars moving to Great American Family?
As soon as the network relaunched, the first order of business seemed to be to cajole some fan favorite Hallmark stars over to Great American Media with multi-picture deals (guaranteed work!) In the last year, Great American Media has announced they've signed several actors to deals, including Danica McKellar, Jen Lilley, Jessica Lowndes, and Trevor Donovan. And now they've plucked one of the shiniest gems from from Hallmark's crown: Candace Cameron Bure!
“I’m very excited to develop heartwarming family and faith-filled programming and make the kind of stories my family and I love to watch,” Bure said in a statement.
Great American Media is likely making the moves worth it for the actors and hoping the stars' followers tune in to the fledgling network too.
While the deals are non-exclusive, it's unlikely you'll be seeing these stars on Hallmark Channel anytime soon due to time and filming commitments.
Not only have they scooped up talent, they've also revived properties that Hallmark canceled or wavered on picking up additional seasons. Great American Media picked up season 2 of When Hope Calls and greenlit a Christmas movie for the When Calls the Heart spinoff. When Hope Calls: A Country Christmas premiered on the network this past holiday season. The film featured Lori Loughlin, who was ousted from Hallmark Media after her involvement in the Varsity Blue college admissions scandal.
Great American Media recently announced Loughlin's return to the small screen in her first movie since her release from prison last year.
After Hallmark Channel canceled Home & Family, their daily weekday family lifestyle show, Great American Media quickly hired Cameron Mathison, Debbie Matenopoulos and other Home & Family on-camera talent to host their Christmas preview special, Welcome to Great American Christmas.
Hallmark Channel also recently announced they would no longer produce Kitten Bowl, the network's counter-programming to the Super Bowl and Animal Planet's Puppy Bowl. The show didn't linger in the ether for long as Great American Media picked up the rights to the yearly special that promotes pet adoption and features shelter animals. The special debuts next year and will be rechristened Great American Rescue Bowl and will feature not only kittens but also puppies and adult cats and dogs.
Which Hallmark actors are going to Great American Media?
Candace Cameron Bure
Candace Cameron Bure is the most recent—and shiniest star—plucked from Hallmark's crown. Touted as the network's "Queen of Christmas," Cameron Bure has starred in more than two dozen movies for Hallmark since 2008, including 10 Christmas movies. This deal likely comes as a jolt to Hallmark as Cameron Bure also portrays the titular character in the Aurora Teagarden Mysteries on Hallmark Movies & Mysteries. Whether or not Great American Media will try to obtain the television rights to Aurora Teagarden remains to be seen.
“I am constantly looking for ways that I can inspire people to live life with purpose. Great American Family fits my brand perfectly; we share a vision of creating compelling wholesome content for an audience who wants to watch programming for and with the whole family," she said in a statement. "Great, quality entertainment with a positive message is what my partnership with Great American Family is all about!”
Danica McKellar was one of the first Hallmark Channel actors to sign a non-exclusive multi-pic deal with newly rebranded Great American Family. She starred in Great American Family's The Winter Palace opposite Neal Bledsoe in January. It was McKellar's first film for the network since signing with Great American Media. The two pair up again this holiday season in Christmas at the Drive-In.
McKellar was previously a staple on Hallmark Channel having starred in multiple Christmas movies including You, Me & the Christmas Trees, Christmas at Dollywood and Christmas She Wrote. She also starred in the Matchmaker Mysteries movie franchise on Hallmark Movies & Mysteries opposite Victor Webster.
Hallmark recently confirmed they will not be pursuing additional films in the Hailey Dean, Picture Perfect or Matchmaker Mysteries franchises.
McKellar most recently guest starred on Home Economics and serves as a judge on Domino Masters.
The former Days of our Lives actress recently starred in Royally Wrapped for Christmas for Great American Family and has starred in almost a dozen films for Hallmark Channels over the years including Where Your Heart Belongs, USS Christmas and Winter Love Story.
Donovan was also one of the first to sign a deal with GAC. He starred in Jingle Bell Princess for the network this past holiday season. He previously starred in Two for the Win, USS Christmas and Love, Fall & Order for Hallmark Channel. He also co-stars in the upcoming biopic Reagan about President Ronald Reagan.
Lowndes is the most recent actress to sign with Great American Media. She starred in the Great American Family holiday film, My Angel's Christmas List. She also starred in Great American Family's Valentine's Day offering, Harmony from the Heart opposite Chesapeake Shores alum, Jesse Metcalfe. She previously starred in Christmas at Pemberley Manor, Over the Moon in Love and Mix Up in the Mediterranean for Hallmark Channel.
Hallmark stars on GAC Family in limited roles
While these popular Hallmark Channel stars have not signed deals with either network, they have appeared in Great American Family movies.
The former Hallmark darling was made persona non grata at Hallmark Channel after she was indicted and pleaded guilty to her involvement in the college admissions scandal. After serving her jail time, Loughlin made her return to television with a guest starring role on When Hope Calls: A Country Christmas, reprising her When Calls the Heart role as Abigail Stanton. Great American Family picked up a second season of When Hope Calls which originally aired on Hallmark Movies Now, Hallmark's streaming subscription site. The second season has yet to go into production so it remains to be seen if Abigail will remain in Brookfield.
The network recently announced that Loughlin will star in her first movie since the scandal. Fall into Winter will debut in January 2023.
Daniel Lissing left When Calls the Heart after the fifth season of Hallmark Channel's most popular series. He starred in Christmas in Love post-When Calls the Heart, but hasn't made an appearance on the network since. He has since appeared on S.W.A.T, The Rookie, and most recently, The Cleaning Lady. He starred in A Christmas Star for GAC and also reprised his role as Mountie Jack Thornton in a single scene in When Hope Calls: A Country Christmas opposite Lori Loughlin.
One of the first holiday movies that went into production this year for Great American Family was Catering Christmas which stars Merritt Patterson and Daniel Lissing. In Catering Christmas, Patterson is a young caterer who lands the job of a lifetime, but must contend with the gala's manager (Lissing), who is reluctant to take over his family's foundation, the host of the gala.
Jesse Metcalfe starred on Hallmark Channel's Chesapeake Shores for four seasons and decided to leave the show in its fifth season. His character, Trace Riley, leaves Chesapeake Shores and Abby (Meghan Ory) for a "fresh start."
Metcalfe also starred in the Martha Vineyard Mysteries franchise for Hallmark Movies & Mysteries. The former Dallas and Desperate Housewives star recently co-starred opposite Jessica Lowndes in Great American Family's Harmony from the Heart.
The former Reign and Heartland actor starred in Romance in the Air and Royally Ever After for Hallmark Channel. Most recently, Coombs starred in Much Ado About Christmas for Great American Family.
Sarah Lind starred in the Martha's Vineyard Mysteries franchise on Hallmark Movies & Mysteries opposite Jesse Metcalfe. On Great American Family, she starred in The Great Christmas Switch opposite Dillon Casey.
Rukiya Bernard and Dewshane Williams
Bernard and Williams co-starred opposite Taylor Cole and Jack Turner in the One Winter trilogy of movies—One Winter Weekend, One Winter Proposal and One Winter Wedding. The two headlined Christmas Time is Here for Great American Family.
The former Home & Family host starred in A Kindhearted Christmas opposite Jenny McCarthy for GAC this past holiday season. Mathison previously starred in a variety of films for Hallmark Channel including At Home in Mitford with Andie MacDowell and A Summer to Remember with Catherine Bell.
Mathison will star in The Christmas Farm opposite Jill Wagner on Great American Family this holiday season
Chad Michael Murray
The former One Tree Hill actor starred in Great American Family's Angel Falls Christmas opposite Jessica Lowndes who he has worked with in multiple projects. He previously starred in Write Before Christmas, Sand Dollar Cove and Road to Christmas for Hallmark Channel.
Patterson starred in Great American Family's Jingle Bell Princess with Trevor Donovan. Formerly on The Royals, Patterson starred in multiple films for Hallmark Channel including The Christmas Cottage, Forever in My Heart and A Royal Winter.
She'll star in Catering Christmas this season for Great American Family opposite Daniel Lissing.
Christopher Russell starred in Great American Family's A Lot Like Christmas and previously appeared in several Hallmark movies including Where Your Heart Belongs, Chasing Waterfalls and Love in the Forecast.
Jill Wagner stars in the Mystery 101 series on Hallmark Movies & Mysteries opposite Kristoffer Polaha who was also her co-star in Pearl in Paradise on Hallmark Channel.
Wagner also has quite a Christmas resume on Hallmark Channel with films like The Angel Tree, Christmas Wishes and Mistletoe Kisses and Christmas Cookies. Wagner starred in A Christmas Miracle for Daisy on GAC.
Though Mystery 101 has not been cancelled, it's unclear when and if Wagner will return to the series as her calendar is quite jam packed!
Wagner will star in The Christmas Farm for Great American Family opposite Cameron Mathison. She currently is an executive producer on Lioness, a Taylor Sheridan-created series for Paramount+.
Lioness is a fact-based drama series about two agents in a U.S. undercover female operative program. Zoe Saldana is attached to star as Joe with Nicole Kidman serving as one of the executive producers. Wagner will also have a role in front of the camera.
The show has added Yellowstone and 1883 alum to its cast. Dave Annable, who played John Dutton's eldest son Lee on Yellowstone will play Joe's husband, Neil. LaMonica Garrett from 1883 will play CIA operative Tucker while frequent Sheridan-verse actor James Jordan will take on the role of CIA operative Two Cups. Jordan has had roles on 1883, Yellowstone, and Mayor of Kingstown and has also appeared in several of Sheridan's feature films.
Cindy Busby starred in one of Hallmark Channel's most popular films, Unleashing Mr. Darcy and was a recurring character on the network's first TV series, Cedar Cove. She has starred in over a dozen films for Hallmark Channel including Hearts Down Under, Love in the Forecast, and Royal Hearts. Most recently she starred in Marry Me in Yosemite for Hallmark Channel. She starred in Joy for Christmas for Great American Family.
Page has starred in over a half dozen movies for Hallmark Channel including The Story of Us, My One and Only, and Christmas in Rome. He starred in Joy for Christmas on Great American Family.