Hallmark sets When Calls the Heart return date — with Lori Loughlin edited out
Hope is finally returning to Hope Valley: When Calls the Heart will resume its sixth season shortly.
Hallmark Channel announced Wednesday that its signature frontier drama will return on Sunday, May 5 at 8 p.m. In what’s being billed as a two-night event, a new episode will air on Monday, May 6 as well, and then the show will return to its normal Sunday slot. When Calls the Heart has been absent from the schedule since mid-March, when it was suddenly pulled from the schedule, mere hours after the network severed all ties with Lori Loughlin over the college admissions cheating scandal. At the time, the network announced that it was evaluating “all creative options” for the show.
As EW reported at the time, a likely option was to remove Loughlin’s character, Abigail, a key figure who is the Mayor of Hope Valley, from the rest of the episodes in season 6. (Cancellation was not one of the scenarios discussed, especially given that When Calls the Heart is the network’s top-rated original series and longest-running.) And that Loughlin-less scenario has come to pass. The remaining season 6 installments have been re-edited in such a manner that removes any appearances by Loughlin, a source close to the show tells EW.
Removing Loughlin from the majority of the season required some highly creative editing, as well as some minor reshoots. As a result, one fewer episode will be offered in season 6, which means viewers will receive six episodes instead of seven. (Three episodes from season 6 aired prior to the unplanned hiatus, and the first proved to be the highest-rated premiere in Hallmark history, netting 3.6 million viewers in Live+3, ranking behind only The Walking Dead for the week.)
WTCH executive producer Brian Bird thanked fans on Instagram for “sticking with us through this challenging time,” and added: “Life throws all of us painful curveballs, and the only way to survive is to walk right through them with courage, grace, a forgiving spirit, and most of all, hope. Many of you have wondered what the future holds for our cast and crew, and for the citizens of Hope Valley. Your care and concern means the world to us, and the best way we can thank you is to encourage you the way you encourage us because… Hope always lives here.”
Loughlin — a veteran of Full House and Fuller House, as well as Hallmark Movies & Mysteries’ The Garage Sales Mysteries and many Hallmark Christmas movies — and her fashion designer husband, Mossimo Giannulli, are accused of paying $500,000 to help secure admission to the University of Southern California by positioning their daughters, Olivia Jade, 19, and Isabella Rose, 20, as recruits to school’s crew team. Neither daughter rowed crew. Loughlin, who was arraigned in federal court in Boston last week, and Giannulli have been charged with conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud, and honest services mail and wire fraud. On Tuesday, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said that the couple, along with 14 other parents, are also being charged with conspiracy to commit money laundering.
In a statement last month, Hallmark Cards, which owns Hallmark Channel and Hallmark Movies & Mysteries, said, “We are saddened by the recent news surrounding the college admissions allegations,” and noted that it was “no longer working with Lori Loughlin.” At the time, Bird confirmed on Instagram that the show was set to return following a “creative” hiatus and a “challenging transition”. “#Hearties, thank you for your love, support, and patience these last several days as we have all been preoccupied with the news about Lori Loughlin and her family, and the decisions our colleagues at the Hallmark Channel USA needed to make,” read his statement. “As you can imagine, everyone involved with When Calls the Heart was surprised by these developments, so we hope you can forgive us for initially staying silent while we sorted through how to respond. As for the show itself, we know millions of fans are on pins and needles wondering what will happen now. Let us reassure you, When Calls the Heart has always been bigger than the sum of its parts, and it HAS NOT BEEN CANCELED. With the full support of the network, we have gone on a creative hiatus to do some retooling on the remaining Season 6 episodes. That process has already begun. Hope Valley will return to your TV screens as soon as we can bring the episodes to you.”
When Calls the Heart, which debuted in 2014, also stars Erin Krakow, Jack Wagner, Martin Cummins, Pascale Hutton, and Kavan Smith, Chris McNally, Loretta Walsh, and Kevin McGarry.
Krakow also announced news of the show’s return in a video that aired on Hallmark Channel, which you can watch here.