The CEO of the Great American Channels company is on a mission to make GAC Media the "leader in family television," and he's taking significant steps to make that goal a reality.
After some families found the Hallmark Channel's pro-LGBT shift to be disheartening, sister networks GAC Family and GAC Living are now poised to be major Hallmark competitors.
During an interview on Up Next with John Contratti, GAC Media CEO Bill Abbott laid out his plans to provide high-quality original content the whole family can enjoy.
Abbott said, "There's so much need for family content and the market in this space. It's pretty scary, quite frankly, the amount of content that's out there, the vast majority of content is salacious and is not appropriate for any member of the family, really."
The native of Oyster Bay, Long Island, said creating family programming is "something he's passionate about and wanted to do."
One of the company's biggest moves appears to be hiring Candace Cameron Bure for a leading role in the organization. More about that here.
The GAC Family network has already been hard at work on its goal, airing 12 original Christmas movies during the last Christmas season. The company has also hired Hallmark actors and actresses to appear in movies and programs for its channels. Danica McKellar, Jen Lilley, Daniel Lissing, and Jessica Lowndes are just a few of the performer's GAC audiences will recognize.
The GAC Living network is also airing original movies as well as several classic TV series which are among family favorites, including Bewitched, Full House, and Who's The Boss.
"Those shows are funny. They are very well-written. They are well-cast," Abbott explained. "And while they are retro in many ways, people really do long for nostalgia and long for that type of content that they spent a lot of time with growing up. And so, we focused on those that were family-friendly."
Abbott, who was the former CEO of Crown Media Family Networks, the parent company of the Hallmark Channel, told Contratti his company has partnered with MPCA, a production company that was Hallmark's leading producer for the last eight years, producing Hallmark's highest quality content.
"We're happy to be working with them and excited about the slate for 2022," he said.
Abbott also said GAC Media is looking to bring its television and movie production to the U.S. from Canada.
"I was just in Oklahoma City yesterday, looking at different locations in Oklahoma," he explained. "We're looking at Oklahoma, Kentucky, Texas, really anywhere that might offer some advantages to shoot movies."
"We want to be the leader in family television," Abbott told Contratti. "We think that we've got assembled a terrific team not only at our networks but also on the talent side – people who are well-known to the audience and who the audience loves."
"We want to present high-quality content," he continued. "We think the genre, wrong kind of genre, gets a bad name to a degree by quantity over quality philosophy that I think some channels have and not all Christmas movies are created equal."
"We want to be relentlessly family-friendly. We want to be consistent and we want to be high-quality," he said. "And if we do those three things, I think we will deliver on the promise and will be the leader in the space, and the same will hold true in the lifestyle area."
The interview was posted prior to the April 19 announcement that GAC Media has hired Candace Cameron Bure to develop, produce and star in movies and television shows.
"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. "I am constantly looking for ways that I can inspire people to live life with purpose."
As CBN News has reported over the last several years, Bure, a devout Christian, has starred in several Hallmark movies and last November was even named "Christmas Queen" of Hallmark movies after starring in her 10th Christmas film for the network. Bure starred in 20 films for the Hallmark Channel over the last 10 years.
Hallmark Changes from Family-Friendly to All-Inclusive After LGBTQ Backlash
In February of 2021, Wonya Lucas, president, and CEO of Hallmark parent Crown Media Family Networks said the cable channel will expand its storylines to feature more LGBTQ characters.
Another Hallmark executive, Michelle Vicary also said it's been a "big priority" for the company to focus on showing "different kinds of diversity."
Hallmark, which used to be considered family-friendly, is known for its collection of heartwarming and sentimental movies. The channel had even removed LGBTQ wedding ads from its platform in 2019.
Hallmark's leaders had initially decided to remove the Zola ads after the conservative activist group One Million Moms - which represents a sizable chunk of the network's target demographic - launched a petition denouncing the commercials as inappropriate for a family-friendly channel because of its "promotion of homosexuality."
But then the network faced an LGBTQ backlash, apologized, and promised to reinstate previously removed LGBTQ-friendly wedding advertisements.