Over the last several months, a bit of a rivalry has emerged as newish network GAC Family has poached some top tier talent from Hallmark, including names like Candace Cameron Bure and Danica McKellar. Now, the network is even hopping into the Christmas in July game with its first-ever programming block — and the network is bringing in another former Hallmark name to host it.
Jen Lilley was one of the names to defect from the popular cabler in recent months and now she has hosted the big programming block on the new network. The programming block really ran in earnest over the weekend and is similar to what Hallmark usually offers in July, featuring a bevy of Christmas favorites for fans. It’s worth noting that GAC Family’s “Great American Christmas in July” block is more “encore presentations” of its productions and not brand new movies.
One of Lilley’s first GAC Family movies, Royally Wrapped for Christmas, is also a part of the July Christmas programming block. So, it's certainly on a smaller scale than what Hallmark is offering, but it is a clear indication the network is setting its sights on the same game.
Hallmark, on the other hand, has three brand new Christmas movies coming for its July lineup, as well as encore presentations. The new movies headed to the schedule this month include My Grown-Up Christmas List, Campfire Christmas, and Christmas in Toyland. Those will air on Saturdays throughout the month, with My Grown-Up Christmas list kicking things off on July 9.
While some Hallmark stars are producing movies on both GAC Family and Hallmark, others have picked one network over the other. Lacey Chabert signed an overall agreement with Hallmark, for example. While it was thought Candace Cameron Bure might be able to keep her beloved Aurora Teagarden character at Hallmark Movies & Mysteries, it now seems she will be sticking with GAC Family, with her first project coming later this year.
As for Jen Lilley, the actress actually received some criticism for leaving Hallmark and beginning a tenure at the new network. Back in January of this year, she defended the move, noting that she felt the network was “loving” and “diverse” after one of her followers called the network “hate-filled” and “bigoted.” As for this brand new Christmas gig, while Lilley is taking on hosting duties this summer, she did also tell The Must-Watch Show:
Ultimately, it's yet to be seen if the block will end up being competitive with what Hallmark has to offer. The latter network has made headlines in recent months for trying to be more progressive with its headlines, incorporating storylines with more "inclusive" perspectives, as lead Ryan Paevey recently put it, while GAC Family has been doubling down on more traditional programming.
Next up will be the competing actual holiday programming blocks. GAC Family has already said Christmas will officially kick off on Friday, October 28th on the network.
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