The Hallmark Channel presented their upfront slate at a press luncheon yesterday in New York City, revealing as much about what they will do in the upcoming season as what they won't do. What they will do is air 35 original movies next season, all debuting on Saturday nights at 9p, repeating on the following Friday nights. Each of the films is specifically designed to bolster the Hallmark brand and reinforce the viewers sense of "predictability" in the outcome of the movies - that is, the good guy wins, the good girl gets the good boy, etc. As Pres/CEO Henry Schleiff puts it, Hallmark is "offering predictability in an unpredictable world," something he says the viewer is looking for and expects from Hallmark. Each of these movies will ultimately also be seen on the Hallmark Movie Channel where you'll find Hallmark original films, the Hallmark Hall of Fame library, as well as "the greatest [acquired] family movies of all time."
Additionally, coming to the Hallmark Movie Channel is a partnership with the Tisch School of Arts, wherein the network will showcase long and short form student and alumni films, all of which "uplift the human spirit." A panel of judges will be formed to chose which films will meet the network's criteria, and the first judge to be named to the panel is alumni Alec Baldwin. Films from this partnership will begin airing in October 2009 under the banner "Film Positive."
What you won't find Hallmark doing in the upcoming season is original series programming - it's simply not what they do, and it's not what viewers are looking for from this network. Returning, however, are several off-net series including 7th Heaven, Golden Girls, Little House on the Prairie, Murder She Wrote, M*A*S*H and Walker Texas Ranger.