Bill Abbott Comments on Rumors About ‘Poaching’ Hallmark Actors for GAC Family

Getty Bill Abbott and Michelle Vicary arrive at Hallmark Channel's Summer 2019 TCA Press Tour Event.

Quite a few Hallmark actors are also starring in movies on GAC Family, a network created by former Hallmark Channel CEO Bill Abbott. A Hallmark executive recently commented on the new network’s growth, and Abbott addressed a rumor about whether he was “poaching” actors from his previous network.

Abbott Said They Aren’t Trying to Poach Actors & Some Are Approaching Him First

When asked about using Hallmark actors in his new movies, Abbott told The Wall Street Journal that some of the actors were approaching him first.

He said: “We’re not actively going out and poaching from Hallmark. We have many more talent approaching us than we have movies to put them in.”

Abbott told Wall Street Journal that he didn’t wish Hallmark any ill will.

“It’s nothing more than competition, and I certainly don’t wish them ill in any way,” he said.

When asked about diversity in their programming, Abbott said that the first lineup of movies was all centered around Christmas. But they plan to produce movies from different points of view in the future.

He said: “[We] wanted to just stick to our knitting, and down the road we certainly have ample opportunity to produce movies from a different point of view. But in year one, we just wanted to get off the ground with more of a typical fare.”

A GAC spokesman also told The Wall Street Journal that they’re committed to diversity on the channel. They said: “[GAC] is absolutely committed to diversity and gender equity, on screen, behind the camera and throughout our company’s workforce. Our current programming slate features actors representing diverse backgrounds in leading and supporting roles, and we are creating a strong pipeline of diverse talent.”

Paul Campbell, a Hallmark actor who hasn’t signed on for GAC Family, expressed hesitation on Twitter about the new network and said he’ll be watching to see what they do.

Campbell wrote: “I, like everyone else, will be keeping a close eye on the GAC content rollout. If there’s a noticeable lack of meaningful inclusion then, no, I will not be working for that company.”

He clarified that he’s giving the network a chance first. One person wrote to him, “In other words, you won’t be working for GAC. They will not have LGBT representation, nor significant POC.”

Campbell replied, “I’m a firm believer in benefit of the doubt, so we shall see.”

A Hallmark Exec Said They Are Allowing Actors to Work Wherever They Want

Lisa Hamilton Daly, head of programming for Hallmark Cards Inc.’s Crown Media Family Networks, told the Wall Street Journal: “It’s talent’s prerogative where they want to work, and we are certainly allowing people to work where they want. We’re going to continue to have fan-favorite actors on our channels, and new faces. We don’t look too much sideways.”

Abbott left The Hallmark Channel in January 2020 after 11 years, The Hollywood Reporter reported. In July 2020, Hallmark brought on Wonya Lucas as the new CEO and president of the Hallmark Channel, according to the outlet.

Over the Christmas season, quite a few Hallmark actors also filmed movies for GAC Family. While Danica McKellar signed an exclusive agreement with GAC Family for three years, most actors are still open to working with both networks.

Some of the actors who starred in GAC Family movies over Christmas include Trevor Donovan, Merritt Patterson, Susie Abromeit (who signed a deal with GAC Family), Cameron Mathison, Debbie Matenopolous (who co-hosted a Christmas special on GAC Family), Daniel Lissing, Lori Loughlin, Sarah Lind, Dillon Casey, many “When Hope Calls” stars, Rukiya Bernard, Dewshane Williams, Kyana Teresa, Jessica Lowndes, Chad Michael Murray, Jen Lilley, Brendan Fehr, Becca Tobin, Matthew MacCaull, Maggie Lawson, Christopher Russell, Jill Wagner, Cindy Busby, Sam Page, and more.

GAC Family is an evolution of the channel previously known as Great American Country. Learn how to watch GAC Family on TV here and how to stream movies on the channel here.

READ NEXT: Hallmark’s 2022 Movie Lineup

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