Hallmark Channel Celebrates Hanukkah
Hallmark Channel Christmas movies are marketing miracles, generating both Holiday cheer and big ratings for the network.
Now, it seems only natural to encompass Hanukkah.
The first two Hallmark movies built around Hanukkah-themed plots, “Holiday Date” and “Double Holiday,” will premier to coincide with the Jewish holiday, which starts Dec. 22 this year.
“Our audience is very vocal, and they tell us when they’d like to see more of something,” says Michelle Vicary, Crown Media’s executive vice president of programming. “We’ve heard over the years that they would like to see [a Hanukkah movie] if a script came in that we liked. And that happened this year — twice.”
Hallmark’s annual “Countdown to Christmas” holiday movie schedule, now in its 10th year, scored 85 million viewers in total last year..., according to Vicary. This year’s 40-film schedule kicked off Oct. 25 with “A Merry Christmas Match.” ”Picture a Perfect Christmas” and “The Mistletoe Secret,” which aired last weekend, both averaged a respectable 3 million viewers.
“We take pitches for all kinds of movies,” says Vicary. “We talked about being purposeful this year and making sure that of the hundreds — if not thousands — of pitches we get for the holiday season, that we would look to have Hanukkah included if we could find the right story. Because that’s the first decision point. We thought these two are in line with what we do and what our audience is looking for.
“Holiday Date,” starring Hallmark veteran Brittany Bristow (“Love, Romance, and Chocolate”) and Matt Cohen (“General Hospital”), airs Dec 14 at 8pm.
“Unfortunately they have not discussed if he knows all the traditions,” says Vicary. “As the family becomes more suspicious whether he knows how to celebrate, our two leads begin to fall for each other.
The second Hanukkah movie, “Double Holiday”, airs Dec 22 (8 p.m.) with stars Kristoffer Polaha (“Condor”) and Carly Pope (“Arrow”). Hallmark has been criticized regarding the lack of diversity in their productions.
“We think reflecting the US population within our movies is yet another way that people come to us and see a little of themselves in our content. We are taking pitches for all kinds of traditions and all kinds of representation. We look at scripts that are reflective of lots of different demographic or attributes. So I think you can expect to see more.”