Christmas Films on TV: Candace Cameron Bure and Others Money in Huge



Candace Cameron Bure was the undisputed queen of Hallmark Channel’s slate of well-liked vacation fare, with greater than 30 credit to her title. Who may neglect her work as a high-strung physician who strikes to Alaska in “Christmas Underneath Wraps”? OK, simply since you haven’t heard of it, doesn’t imply it wasn’t an enormous hit. The 2014 made-for-TV film has the excellence of being essentially the most watched Hallmark Christmas particular ever, touchdown virtually 6 million viewers on its debut airing. (In actual fact, she stars in 4 of Hallmark’s prime 10 most-watched Christmas premieres.) So, when Bure, 46, break up with Hallmark to join rival upstart cable network GAC (now Great American Family) earlier this yr, not even Santa himself may cheer up Hallmark. 

The brains behind this Christmas steal wasn’t the Grinch. As a substitute, it was Nice American Media president and CEO Invoice Abbott, the previous chief of Hallmark Channel’s mother or father firm, who stepped down from his earlier submit in 2020 after he confronted backlash for yanking a business that includes a same-sex couple. How did Abbott pull off such a giant rent? By exhibiting her the cash. Sources inform Selection that Bure, whose contract ended across the time Great American Family was launching, was making round $1 million a yr for her unique Hallmark deal, which, at one level, included no less than two motion pictures a yr. Nice American Household was in a position to practically double that.

“The most important factor about Christmas motion pictures usually is that individuals make enjoyable of them — and but folks love them,” Bure says. “It’s as a result of they’re predictable: You understand that somebody’s going to fall in love. You understand it’s simply going to be glad and heat. And folks run to that, particularly on the holidays.” 

Bure’s position isn’t simply starring in new initiatives, but additionally now as an govt on the firm, tasked with producing her personal empire of Christmas motion pictures. The primary challenge on her slate is “A Christmas … Present,” the place Bure will play an actual property agent who’s celebrating the vacations together with her lately widowed brother. Based on Abbott, she “understands what the viewers likes and what the viewers doesn’t like, and that understanding for us is so important to our success.” 

Candace Cameron Bure and David O’Donnell in ‘Christmas Underneath Wraps’

©Hallmark Leisure/Courtesy Everett Assortment

Abbott didn’t initially assume the film was a match. “It’s not the everyday Christmas film that we’d do that’s essentially what has been profitable, even for her, prior to now. But, I’ve loads of confidence in her,” he says. “It’s life-affirming and makes you admire what you will have and can give folks nice hope in actually viewing what they’ve in a little bit little bit of a special manner via a special lens. She was 100% proper. I used to be manner off.”

Bure grew up in a conservative family in Panorama Metropolis, the daughter of a expertise supervisor and a gymnasium instructor. Her brother, Kirk Cameron, an outspoken Evangelical Christian, starred in “Rising Pains” as an adolescent, however deserted a standard Hollywood profession trajectory to star within the faith-based “Left Behind” motion pictures. He stoked controversy in 2012 for saying being homosexual is “unnatural.” However, Bure, who’s a religious Christian and a conservative, hasn’t waded into politics as a lot, regardless of her stint as a co-host on “The View.” She’s near her kids — Natasha, 24; Lev, 22; and Maksim, 20 — and has stated prior to now that she’s interested in telling the faith-based tales she shares with them. It’s not shocking, then, that Bure understands Nice American Media’s viewers.

Issues have modified within the vacation programming world prior to now few years. Whereas red-and-green decor alerts to all that the Christmas season is right here, if you happen to’re on this enterprise, you’re seeing solely inexperienced. In 2021 alone, there have been 144 TV motion pictures within the months main as much as the vacation, with Netflix, CBS, ION, UPtv and OWN all throwing their Santa hats into the ring. This yr, Nice American Household is getting ready to roll out 17 originals. UPtv additionally has 17, Hallmark can be producing 40 and Lifetime has 26.

And this comeback for the style is not simply on cable networks; each community has its personal technique. CBS, for instance, has three authentic motion pictures coming this season highlighting the community’s expertise as Amanda Kloots (“The Speak”) and Liza Lapira (“The Equalizer), star reverse Paul Greene and Neal Bledsoe, respectively, males who’ve led vacation motion pictures for Hallmark Channel. (Bledsoe and Greene will each additionally seem on Nice American Household as nicely this yr, pulling double responsibility.) In the meantime, Lifetime is bringing in legends this yr, with motion pictures starring Rita Moreno, Patti LaBelle and Jane Seymour.

Made-for-TV vacation motion pictures have develop into a pop-culture punchline, however for actors, they’re a solution to make comparatively quick cash. A feminine lead actor could make as much as $300,000 per film that takes three weeks to movie, whereas a male lead could make near $200,000. For years, Hallmark was the highest payer for vacation programming, however that’s modified.

Netflix’s “The Princess Swtich”n

©Netflix/Courtesy Everett Assortment

When Netflix got here into the sport, it was keen to up the ante. Since its total budgets are greater than double what cable networks have, it’s in a position to land stars like Dolly Parton, Goldie Hawn, Vanessa Hudgens, Kurt Russell and Rob Lowe. One supply tells Selection that whereas a few of these motion pictures have been pitched elsewhere, Netflix was the one place in a position to pay greater main stars, usually shelling out paychecks of greater than $1 million per movie.

“Over the previous 5 years, we’ve constructed a large library of Netflix vacation exhibits and movies and a confirmed devoted viewers who return yr after yr to look at each our new vacation choices — in addition to revisit their previous favorites like ‘The Princess Change’ and ‘Christmas Chronicles’ franchises,” says Christina Rogers, director of unbiased movie at Netflix.

This yr, the streamer has six authentic vacation motion pictures within the pipeline, all with huge stars hooked up, together with Lindsay Lohan, Emma Thompson, Olivia Colman and Justin Hartley — all expertise that doesn’t come low-cost.

And the enterprise of Christmas motion pictures can result in different sources of revenue. Now, very similar to Comedian-Con and different fan conventions, the actors can earn cash by signing autographs and taking photographs with followers. Christmas Con launched in 2019, with 20 superstar friends and 9,000 attendees; in 2021, attendees went as much as 12,000. Along with pricy day passes, followers can participate in an expert photograph opps with stars like Lacey Chabert, Danica McKellar or Jesse Metcalfe, or purchase an autograph for $80. Plus, every actor is paid a assured charge to attend for the weekend — which will be anyplace from $10,000 to $75,000. RomaDrama, one other fan occasion that options actors of Christmas motion pictures, flies expertise top notch and offers followers the chance to pay $400 for a five-minute sit-down chat with their favourite stars.  

Wes Brown, Jesse Hutch, Andrew Walker (again) Colin Egglesfield, Trevor Donovan, Neal Bledsoe at RomaDrama

Ryan Waneka

However within the Christmas sport, nobody is greater than Bure. In fact, she obtained her begin because the beloved DJ Tanner on “Full Home” at 11 — a job she performed till she was 18. She then took a break from performing and, at 20, married former Russian NHL hockey participant Valeri Bure and began a household. Ten years later, she “got here again with a vengeance.” That comeback started on the Hallmark Channel. 

“Invoice gave me my first shot after taking a really lengthy hiatus from work,” says Bure, who made her Hallmark debut in “Moonlight and Mistletoe” in 2008. “I’ll at all times be grateful to him for that.” However her return from full-time motherhood was simply the beginning for Bure at Hallmark Media. In whole, she appeared in 30 motion pictures and hosted the annual “Countdown to Christmas” specials. 

Although she ultimately started producing on the community, she took on some meaty aspect gigs, together with “Dancing With the Stars” and “The View,” the place she sat on the Scorching Matters desk from 2015 to 2016. Although she liked being a chat present host, she didn’t like dishing about politics in public. On ABC’s “Behind the Desk” podcast, in 2021, she stated, “I didn’t need to be the punching bag for the following 4 years in that conservative seat.” Nonetheless, she will be able to think about going again. “I might like to do a chat present once more,” she says. “However I don’t need to do a political speak present. That wasn’t that enjoyable.” 

“The View” was a possibility she jumped at after saying “loads of nos.” She says she booked one other TV present that aired for “many, a few years,” however modified her thoughts final minute because it’d be too robust to stability filming together with her household time.  

In contrast to most youngster stars, Bure has discovered methods to proceed to maintain her model related. She has written 11 books, launched her personal clothes line, has partnered with Dr. Lancer Skincare and with Christian items firm DaySpring to remain linked to her religion. But, Christmas motion pictures are what she’s greatest recognized for now — which is why her departure from Hallmark was met with such curiosity. It comes after Abbott left the channel in a hail of controversy. 

Inside a yr of exiting Hallmark, Abbott had arrange a extra conservative competitor — in June 2021, he partnered with Hicks Fairness Companions on GAC Media, a brand new firm that had acquired Nice American Household. (The agency’s founder, Thomas Hicks, is an in depth pal of Donald Trump and co-chair of the Republican Nationwide Committee.) Nice American Household’s goal demographic is viewers in Republican-leaning markets who may be much less accepting of points like homosexual marriage. 

Bure isn’t the one Hallmark staple who Abbott has introduced with him to the brand new firm. In 2014, he launched the “Kitten Bowl” on Hallmark, working intently with animal-rights activist Beth Stern, who’s married to Howard Stern, to assist discover cats and kittens their without end houses. Whereas the community discontinued the particular, which has facilitated greater than 75,000 shelter pet adoptions since its launch, it will move to Great American Family in February 2023, and has been renamed because the “Nice American Rescue Bowl.”   

Abbott and Bure hope to bring “The Aurora Teagarden Mysteries” film series, a franchise Bure has led since its 2015 debut, to their new dwelling. “The world that she created round Aurora Teagarden was one thing very particular, and definitely one thing we’d love nothing greater than to do extra of,” he says. Bure provides, “It’s about placing puzzle items collectively, however it’s very attainable.”  

The solid of ‘Full Home.’

©Warner Bros/Courtesy Everett Assortment

Bure might also reunite with a well-known face on the community: Her “Full Home” aunt, Lori Loughlin. A particular final Christmas marked Loughlin’s return to performing following her 2019 arrest and subsequent incarceration within the faculty admissions scandal. She additionally has a long-standing relationship with Abbott, having appeared in 16 “Storage Sale Thriller” movies for Hallmark Films & Mysteries earlier than the community reduce ties together with her amid the scandal. Now, Abbott hopes to rebuild that relationship and ultimately have Loughlin as one of many faces of Nice American Household. They speak thrice every week, he says, and are presently searching for the proper script for her to guide. 

“She’s America’s sweetheart, no matter no matter occurred,” Abbott says. “On the finish of the day, she represents all that’s optimistic about leisure, and has had a stellar profession — not solely on display screen, but additionally the way in which she’s performed herself personally, when it comes to being somebody who has a monitor report of doing the best factor on this planet at massive, apart from no matter occurred. She’s beloved and for good motive. We’re very pleased with our affiliation together with her and need to make her a part of the material.” 

Because it seems, that cloth isn’t so totally different from the one which he championed at Hallmark earlier than he left in a cloud of controversy. 

Bure says that whereas there are similarities, Nice American Household’s content material will extra strongly characterize religion and pleasure in nation. However to this point, the community hasn’t adopted the business developments of hiring expertise from various backgrounds. At Lifetime, 60% of the unique 2022 motion pictures are written by ladies, and folks of coloration make up 54% of the channel’s main solid members. Sixty-seven % of its vacation film originals characteristic folks of coloration and/or LGBTQ leads. In the meantime, Hallmark Films & Mysteries has tailored the corporate’s Mahogany card model into TV motion pictures, telling tales via the lens of Black tradition. 

“Folks really feel like we at the moment are a house the place they will deliver initiatives to us, and that’s big,” says Wonya Lucas, Hallmark CEO and president. “All it’s a must to do is have a look at our viewers composition of African American ladies previous to my getting there. African American ladies watch 50% extra tv than every other demographic, and we have been largely lacking out on that.”  

Jermaine Love, Luca Seta, Lance Gross, Joyful Drake, Karen Pittman and Erica Ash in Hallmark’s “Unthinkably Good Issues”

Hallmark Media/ Pooya Nabei

Nonetheless, whereas Abbott could also be manufacturing the type of Christmas his viewers are clinging to, he says he believes that range and inclusion are essential for Nice American Household. “Generally we’re not considered by people who find themselves actually good at these storylines and so we now have to go search them… In rising this enterprise, it’s a lot a a lot heavier carry than I ever thought. I knew it was going to be arduous, however not this difficult. And so, we’ll get there, however it’s not an in a single day factor.”

Abbott says that Nice American Household is specializing in Christmas for now as a result of he isn’t being pitched tales that commemorate different faiths. “Over time, I feel we now have the chance to do this,” he says. “We don’t have the luxurious of getting 30 folks in growth with the ability to take conferences with loads of totally different folks. We take as many as we will, however time is proscribed within the day.”  

Bure provides, “I feel we all know the core viewers and what they love is precisely how Invoice initially constructed the Hallmark Channel. That was Christmas and people conventional holidays, in order that’s what the main target goes to be. You’ve obtained to start out someplace. You possibly can’t do every thing without delay.”  

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