Multiple Hallmark stars including Lacey Chabert, Wes Brown and Andrew Walker have signed on to be part of former colleague Jen Lilley‘s month-long Camp Christmas, a virtual summer camp for fans of Christmas rom-com movies, in an effort to raise money for kids in need.
During virtual game nights in July 2023, at least eight Hallmark fan favorites will team up with some of their former colleagues who, like Lilley, left Hallmark for cable start-up Great American Family, including Candace Cameron Bure and Trevor Donovan. Here’s what you need to know:
Stars Will Appear Together to Raise Money for Youth Program
Lilley starred in over a dozen Hallmark movies before jumping ship in January 2022, when she signed a two-year, four-movie contract with Great American Family, the network started by former Crown Media — now known as Hallmark Media — CEO Bill Abbott and Hicks Equity Partners, which is owned by recent Republican National Committee co-chairman Thomas Hicks, per Bloomberg.
There has been some undeniable tension surrounding Hallmark Media and Great American Family over the past year, with many fans and stars taking sides after Bure told the Wall Street Journal in November 2022 that her new network, for which she serves as Chief Creative Officer, would likely not feature same-sex couples as Hallmark movies sometimes do, preferring to “keep traditional marriage at the core.”
Abbott also told USA Today in October that his new network’s aim to dethrone Hallmark and become “the leader in quality family entertainment in this space.”
But many stars are willing to put any differences aside to collaborate on raising money for kids in need. In fact, many of them participated in the program last year, too. While still at Hallmark, Lilley and her friend Ale Boggiano, a former non-profit executive, founded Christmas is Not Cancelled, a company that hosts “giving campaigns” with exclusive opportunities for fans to watch and connect with some of their favorite Christmas movie stars. Over the past four years, the organization says it has supplied over $1.8 million in toys, school backpacks and cash donations to various charities.
Lilley’s goal for Camp Christmas this July is to raise enough money to fill backpacks with school supplies for 2,500 kids in need. During the month-long campaign, which costs $69 to join and kicks off on June 29, participants can enter weekly sweepstakes for prizes including going a cruise with Walker and a private virtual picnic with Lilley, connect with fellow fans, and watch exclusive game nights each Thursday, during which stars from both networks will appear.
The first celebrity game night on July 6 is scheduled to feature current Hallmark stars Chabert, Walker, Kevin McGarry and Cindy Busby, along with Great American Family stars Lilley, Donovan, and Bure. Cameron Mathison, who’s appeared on both networks, will also be part of the fun.
On July 13, Camp Christmas will host a “Camp Fire with the Hunks,” as Paul Greene, Christopher Russell, Jesse Hutch and Hallmark mainstay Wes Brown swap stories, play games and sing Christmas carols.
On July 20, the ladies get their turn with Camp Christmas’ “Slumber Party With the Darlings” featuring Hallmark stars Nikki DeLoach and Tamera Mowry-Housley alongside former “Home and Family” host Debbie Matenopoulos, “Full House” alum and Great American Family actress Andrea Barber, and Lilley.
Camp Christmas’ final virtual get-together is a craft class on July 27, with Hallmark star Marcus Rosner on board to participate.
Friendships Remain Between Hallmark Stars and Former Colleagues
Despite media attention focused on the bad blood between Hallmark and Great American Family, many of the stars from both networks remain friends after years of working together in past movies and TV series.
This is not the first time Lilley has leaned on her former Hallmark colleagues for help with her fundraising efforts. In March, for instance, she shared an Instagram video of herself with Walker, Chabert and Greene meeting a fan who won a previous Christmas is Not Cancelled sweepstakes.
And, on June 6, when Lilley shared an article announcing that she and Matthew Morrison are starring in a Great American Family follow-up to Hallmark’s “Christmas Waltz,” which starred Will Kemp and Chabert, Kemp graciously offered his congratulations on her Instagram post.
He wrote, “Very exciting! Huge congratulations. Send my love to everyone. 🙌🔥👏🕺🏻💃🏻”
Meanwhile, “When Calls The Heart” star Erin Krakow remains tight with her former co-star Lori Loughlin, who moved to Great American Family after a college admissions scandal that landed her in a medium-security prison for two months. On May 4, Krakow shared a photo of Loughlin with her dog, Willoughby, and simply wrote, “Besties.”
Despite some public feuding, Hallmark star Jodie Sweetin seems to have made amends with her “Full House” co-star Bure, as they reunited in March for an 80s fan convention.
“We have our, you know, moments and we have our stupid squabbles or whatever,” Sweetin said in February during the “Steph Infection” podcast, “but, like, we’re also really close. It’s what you do with family and siblings, you know what I mean? Sometimes you’re like ‘I’m gonna kill you’ and then ‘Whatever, pass the mashed potatoes.'”