There has been a bit of rivalry over the past few months as the new GAC Family chain has poached several high-profile talents from Hallmark, including names like Candice Cameron Bure and Danica McKellar. Now the network is even connecting to the “Christmas in July” game with its first programming block — and the network is attracting another former Hallmark name to host it.
Jen Lilly was one of those who left the popular cable operator in recent months, and now she led a large program block on the new network. The programming block really worked in earnest over the weekend and is similar to what Hallmark usually offers in July, offering fans plenty of Christmas favorites. It is worth noting that the GAC Family block “The Great American Christmas in July” is more of an encore presentation of its productions, rather than completely new films.
One of Lilly GAC’s first family films, The Royal Christmas Package, is also part of the July Christmas programming block. So it’s certainly on a smaller scale than what Hallmark is offering, but it’s a clear sign that the network is targeting the same game.
Hallmark, on the other hand, is preparing three brand new Christmas films for the July lineup, as well as an encore presentation. New films that will appear on the schedule this month include “The Christmas List for Adults,” “Christmas by the Campfire” and “Christmas in Toyland.” They will be broadcast on Saturdays for a month, and the “Christmas for Adults” list will begin on July 9.
While some Hallmark stars make films on both GAC Family and Hallmark, others prefer one network to the other. For example, Lacey Chabert signed a general agreement with Hallmark. Although it was thought that Candice Cameron Bure would be able to keep her beloved character Aurora Teagarden in Hallmark Movies & Mysteries, now it seems that she will remain in the GAC Family, and her first project will appear later this year.
As for Jen Lilly, the actress did come under some criticism for leaving Hallmark and starting working at a new network. Back in January of this year, she defended the move, noting that, in her opinion, the network was “loving” and “diverse” after one of her subscribers called the network “filled with hatred” and “fanatical.” As for this new Christmas concert, although Lilly is taking over hosting duties this summer, she also told The Must-Watch Show:
I’ll say Candice is the queen of Christmas. This is literally some kind of title that she was given. So I’m going to be a princess. Or a court jester. That’s who I’ll be.
Ultimately, it remains to be seen whether this block will be able to compete with what Hallmark has to offer. The latter network has hit the headlines in recent months for trying to be more progressive in its headlines, including storylines with more “inclusive” perspectives, as host Ryan Pavey recently put it, while GAC Family is doubling down on more traditional programming.
Next there will be competing holiday programming blocks. The GAC family has already announced that Christmas will officially begin on Friday, October 28, online.