Actress Danica McKellar is sticking up for her friends and looking for common ground between colleagues at her new TV home, Great American Family (commonly known as GAC), and at her former network, Hallmark Channel, amid ongoing controversy.
Over the weekend, McKellar defended current coworker Candace Cameron Bure, saying she thinks her recent comments about GAC prioritizing storylines that feature “traditional marriage” over scripts featuring LGBTQ+ couples were misinterpreted by many, including actor Neal Bledsoe, who’s departing GAC over the controversy. Meanwhile, McKellar was also vocal in her support of Hallmark’s first romantic comedy featuring two male leads, “The Holiday Sitter,” which debuted on Sunday. Here’s what you need to know:
Danica McKellar Stands Up for Candace Cameron Bure, Saying Neal Bledsoe Misinterpreted Her Words
McKellar spent the weekend with current and former co-stars in New Jersey for Christmas Con, a convention for fans of the kind of TV holiday movies made famous by Hallmark. She posted a carousel of Instagram photos from the event, calling it “a beautiful union of friends and fans; it’s three days of so much love that it’s hard to describe.”
Over 30 stars of Hallmark, Lifetime, and GAC movies attended the festivities to meet their fans and promote their films. But notably absent from the roster was Candace Cameron Bure, who defected in early 2022 from Hallmark to GAC, and has recently been swept up in a swirl of controversy.
In a November 14, 2022, interview in the Wall Street Journal, Bure said part of her reasoning for jumping networks was that she knew the leaders at GAC “were good Christians that love the Lord and wanted to promote faith programming and good family entertainment.”
She drew swift backlash over her response when asked whether GAC will also feature same-sex couples in future movies like Hallmark has begun to do. Bure said no, adding, “I think that Great American Family will keep traditional marriage at the core.”
The network was started by Hallmark’s former CEO Bill Abbott, who hired Bure to not only star in the movies of her choice but also serve as the company’s Chief Creative Officer. Addressing the possibility of LGBTQ+ inclusivity in the network’s films, he said, “It’s certainly the year 2022, so we’re aware of the trends. There’s no whiteboard that says, ‘Yes, this’ or ‘No, we’ll never go here.’”
Amid the controversy, actor Neal Bledsoe, who just co-starred with McKellar in the new GAC original movie “Christmas at the Drive-In,” announced in a lengthy statement that he will no longer make movies for the network.
He wrote, “You may have noticed that I have been unusually silent at a time when I should have been promoting a holiday film, a film with the express purpose of bringing everyone comfort in a time of great tumult and change, but I cannot continue with business as usual. I cannot take comfort from, nor will I give refuge to, those who excuse exclusion and promote division in any way, shape, or form.”
He went on to say that most Hallmark-style romantic movies, including those on GAC, aren’t about marriage, but rather just about people falling in love, so “the phrase ‘traditional marriage’ is as odious as it is baffling.”
McKellar, who signed an exclusive contract with GAC in 2021, also issued a statement before Thanksgiving, saying that she thinks inclusivity and media representation for the LGBTQ+ community is critical and that “the idea that Christianity would judge any form of love simply baffles me.”
But in a December 12 interview from Christmas Con with Fox News Digital, she also defended Bure and said her words have been misunderstood by many, including Bledsoe.
“Neal is a wonderful person,” she said. “He’s such a great actor and I have enjoyed working with him so much. He and I both share our love and support of the LGBT community for sure. I don’t agree with his interpretation of her comments. I just didn’t see them the same way.”
McKellar continued, “When she was talking about the portrayal of heterosexual couples in the movies, she started the sentence with ‘I think,’ which is not definitive, and she ended it with ‘at its core,’ which doesn’t mean exclusively.”
Danica McKellar Celebrates Friend Jonathan Bennett’s Groundbreaking Hallmark Movie Featuring Gay Couple
The day after her comments about Bure’s controversial statement, McKellar attended a live preview party of “The Holiday Sitter” with her mom and a group of actor friends including Jonathan Bennett, who starred in and executive produced the romantic comedy, which was Hallmark’s first movie starring two male leads.
Following the movie’s debut, she wrote on Instagram, “I had the privilege of watching the premiere of #TheHolidaySitter with @jonathandbennett and so many of my @gactv & @hallmarkchannel friends, all together, last night. What a beautiful film. I’m so proud of Jonathan – he’s been telling me about this project for over two years and now it’s in the world. It’s full of love & kindness, so funny and so much heart. Yay!”
McKellar and Bennett have been dear friends for years. In her November statement about inclusivity, McKellar wrote about attending Bennett’s May wedding to TV host Jaymes Vaughan.
“My husband and I were privileged to attend my good friend’s beautiful wedding to his husband earlier this year in Mexico,” she wrote. “At the time, we commented that it was one of the purest expressions of love we had ever seen.”
They still may not see eye-to-eye on the controversy surrounding Bure’s comments, though, given the tweet he pinned to the top of his Twitter feed on December 11. Retweeting a Hallmark promo for “The Holiday Sitter,” he wrote, “Absolutely love this traditional love and traditional relationship.”