Bill Abbott Speaks Out on Stars Leaving Hallmark for ‘Family-Friendly’ Great American Media

Getty Bill Abbott attends a Hallmark Channel event in 2019.

Bill Abbott, CEO of Great American Media and former CEO of the Hallmark Channel, recently opened up in an interview about Great American Media’s future plans for family-friendly programming and what they look for in stars who leave Hallmark for their network. GAC Media recently rebranded itself as Great American Media, with the two TV channels now being referred to as Great American Family and Great American Living.

He Said He’s Always Felt Called to Family-Focused Channels

In an interview with Family Savvy, Abbott opened up about his past TV experience and how it’s informing his current plans for Great American Media and the Great American Family channels.

A Conversation with Great American Media CEO Bill AbbottThis week, I had the privilege of sitting down with the President and Chief Executive Officer of Great American Media, Bill Abbott. In addition to co-founding Great American Media in June of 2021, Bill has over 30 years of impressive leadership experience in cable television. His prior experience includes his role as the President and…2022-08-26T10:00:16Z

He talked about how similar things are now to when he was working with the Family Channel (a different network) in the 90s.

Abbott shared: “more and more at the time, the culture was moving toward that dark, violent sexual presentation of edgy content, and that was back in the 90s.”

He said it was unfortunate when Fox bought the Family Channel because “they didn’t have the same vision … for the business… It just became more of a, ‘What can we do to make it younger, make it edgier, make it different…’ I really was passionate and felt called to serve the underserved audience…”

After that, he moved over to Hallmark, starting out in ad sales, and then was eventually promoted to running the channel as President and CEO. He eventually left Hallmark and launched Great American Media.

Networks Today Aren’t Delivering on Expectations, He Said

“It’s more than just turning on a show, it’s turning on the channel and feeling something…” he said about his time with Hallmark. “You turn it on and you know what you’re going to get. There’s an expectation and we deliver on that expectation… That’s what I think’s missing in the environment right now. Networks are all over the place and you never really know what you’re going to get…”

He then added: “I got so many letters at Hallmark about people who would say they’d get home from work and they’d have a difficult day and they’d be able to turn on our channel and just have two hours where they didn’t have to think about dark situations, violence, sexual situations, things that just…create anxiety.”

He Said the Hallmark Stars Who Moved to Great American Family Are Supportive of ‘Faith, Family & Country’

Abbott then segued to talking about Great American Family and the stars who moved from Hallmark to the new network.

“Fans are so passionate about the talent… about what they do and about the experience they create for them,” he said. “And so when I made the move over here [to GAC], those relationships certainly continue and transcend anywhere that any of us work. So Candace Cameron Bure certainly is in all likelihood the one that is most well known. She’s the queen of the genre, queen of Christmas…”

Abbott continued, talking about how the stars moving to Great American Media are focused on being a role model to others.

“I think the best part about the talent we work with is they’re great people,” he shared. “…They’re not only talented on screen, but they are good people who do the right thing, who you’re not going to read about in the news, who have families, who are supportive of faith, family, and country.”

He said they make it a point to work with people who focus on charity and helping others.

“So we’ve been very conscious to work with people like Candace, like Danica McKellar…” he said. “Jen Lilley, who is a quality person who has a big family and a big heart. Jen is a great example [with] the amount of charity work that she does for children… Trevor Donovan who has an anti-bullying initiative that he takes and goes to schools throughout the country… He’s a role model…

He said they want all their stars to be role models.

“We want our talent to be role models and represent us well…” Abbott said. “Overall reinforce … the positive sides … that are life-affirming.”

Abbott then talked about the new Great American Community social media initiative, which Heavy has previously reported on. He said they plan to expand the social media network, which launches at the end of the month, and offer devotionals and a calendar that will help people be more intentional about the activities they plan with their family, especially during the Christmas season. He said the linear TV network will also promote the digital network.

Abbott ended the interview by admitting that things didn’t go so smoothly when they first launched last June, especially with the website. But he said things are improving this season and they’re really excited about the Great American Community app and the short-form content that’s going to be there.

READ NEXT: Hallmark Reveals Early Countdown to Christmas Lineup

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