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Like Danica McKellar, Another Hallmark Star Just Signed With Rival Network GAC

Fans of the many, many happily-ever-after movies made for the Hallmark Channel and Hallmark Movies & Mysteries were very surprised in late October 2021, when it was announced that popular, long-time Hallmark star, Danica McKellar, had left the outlet to make movies for their rival, GAC Family. At the time many wondered if her exit was going to lead to more actors leaving the channel behind, and now star Jen Lilley has also signed up with the rival network.

Jen Lilley, who’s also known for her long-running roles on Days of Our Lives and General Hospital, has starred in over a dozen of Hallmark’s mega popular romantic films since early 2017, and is one of the most recognizable faces on the network. Deadline is now reporting that Lilley signed an overall deal with GAC Media (which owns both the GAC Family and GAC Living networks) and will star in four original movies for the company over the next two years. We don’t currently know when Lilley’s first movie under the new deal will be released.

Those who enjoy Hallmark’s original films could have seen Lilley as recently as New Year’s Day, when her latest offering from the network, Where Your Heart Belongs, debuted. But, Lilley has already worked with GAC Media, having starred in GAC Family’s 2021 holiday movie, Royally Wrapped for Christmas. This was the first year for the network’s Great American Christmas franchise, which was tailor made to appeal to those who love Hallmark’s dozens of Christmas movies every year, and featured 13 all-new movies.  

While Lilley appeared in her first holiday movie for GAC Family over the holiday season, so did several other Hallmark movie stars, including Cindy Busby, Sam Page, Chad Michael Murray, Rukiya Bernard, Jessica Lowndes, Jennie Garth, Dewshane Williams, Jill Wagner, Cameron Mathison, and Christopher Russell (who starred with Lilley in her recent Hallmark film). Yet another familiar Hallmark face who has also signed an exclusive deal with GAC Media in the past few months, Trevor Donovan, also appeared in his first film for the network during the holidays.

GAC Family is also the new home for the When Calls the Heart spinoff, When Hope Calls, which had been on Hallmark Movies Now until its move for Season 2. In addition, Hallmark’s former stars, Lori Loughlin and Daniel Lissing, appeared in When Hope Calls: A Country Christmas as a part of GAC Family’s holiday programming event.

It’s not known right now how many other famous Hallmark faces are considering jumping ship for GAC Family, but it is entirely possible that Jen Lilley won’t be the last. The new channel (which was Great American Country before being sold last summer) is being run by former Hallmark executive Bill Abbott, who left his gig with the company in January 2020, after several rounds of controversy erupted over the network airing a same-sex kiss in a commercial.

It seems pretty clear that Abbott and the rest of the team at GAC Media know what to offer those who could star in their movies. So, time will tell as to whether or not more Hallmark movie stars head for some new territory.

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