The movies and television shows on the Hallmark Channel and Hallmark Movies & Mysteries are known for bringing millions of fans comfort and joy year round. The networks yearly slate of Christmas movies, in particular, draw in droves on a regular basis, and the company was even able to gear up in enough time to bring viewers dozes of new films for the 2020 holiday season after industry-wide shutdowns. Unfortunately, after figuring out how to work in pods and bubbles to keep the on-screen jollies rolling, Hallmark has now had to layoff several employees.
According to a statement from Hallmark's parent company, Crown Media Family Networks, which was sent to Deadline, the company has now had to lay off employees in an effort to "restructure to realign roles and responsibilities." It's hoped that the move will allow them to "decrease redundancies, optimize effectiveness, and create more support level roles."
The company wouldn't specify the number of layoffs or which areas of the organization were impacted, but it's believed that around 20 employees were let go from the Media Operations, On-Air Promotion, Research and Administration divisions. It's also thought that some long-term employees, with tenures of 20 years or more, were also among the layoffs, which came down earlier this week. Those on staff at Crown Media Family Networks told the outlet that they'd been assured, at the beginning of our on-going health crisis, that there would be no layoffs for the duration, but I doubt anyone at the company expected this state of affairs to last as long as it has.
As we all know by now, last March saw the entire TV and film industry shut down for several months, as everyone tried to figure out the best way to proceed and keep employees safe. While this could have put a major dent into Hallmark's many (many, many) new films and TV shows, production was able to resume in enough time, and under a lot of new filming restrictions, for Hallmark Channel and Hallmark Movies & Mysteries to deliver much of the content audiences love by the start of the Christmas season, with 66 total new movies being produced, 40 of which were specifically for the holidays.
This was especially good for fans last year, as many people were already spending much of their time watching everything new they could set their eyeballs on. Hallmark's holiday films are so popular and beloved, that the network even had a weekend marathon of its original Christmas movies right after quarantine began to try and help spread some cheer around.
Of course, that cheer was hampered by on-going calls for Hallmark's films and television shows to embrace diversity in all its forms more fully. These new layoffs are part of a restructuring which comes seven months after Crown Media Family Networks instituted a leadership change, in part to make diversity a priority, with Wonya Lucas being named president and CEO, and succeeding Bill Abbott in the role. Lucas has already made several hires, and is expected to make more, which will bring the company's employee levels close to its pre-layoff numbers.
While it's never fun to have to lay off people or be laid off, hopefully this will put the company and its networks in a better place overall.