Surprise! The Hallmark Channel is under fire for apparently having too little diversity in its annual Christmas lineup.
The Hollywood Reporter in an article published this week chastised Hallmark for only having four black leads in its 24 original holiday movies this season when it had five black leads in its 21-movie lineup last year. THR also criticized Hallmark for not having another religion’s name featured in any of its movies' titles, despite how Hallmark put out two movies with a Hanukkah theme.
“While other networks are viewing the holidays with an eye toward inclusion, Hallmark is delivering the dream of a white Christmas, just like the one's audiences used to know,” THR fired.
Bill Abbott, CEO of Crown Media Family Networks, Hallmark’s parent company, refused to cower down to THR’s criticism in their podcast, saying that their “generalization isn’t fair” and that “we’ll continue to make the movies where the best scripts are delivered to us.”
“I think that generalization isn’t fair either, that we just have Christmas with white leads,” Abbott said. “In terms of broadening out the demographic, it’s something we’re always thinking about, always considering and we’ll continue to make the movies where the best scripts are delivered to us and what we think have the most potential.”
"We are very proud of those movies and we think those movies really reflect an across-the-board approach to celebrating the holiday season," he said.
Abbott went on to say that Hallmark’s “Countdown to Christmas” is “more a seasonal celebration,” so making movies based off specific holidays would be “more difficult because we don’t look at Christmas from a religious point of view.
"[O]nce you start to slice it more finely within individual religions it’s a little bit tougher to necessarily tell that story in a way that doesn’t involve religion and we always want to stay clear of religion or controversy,” said Abbott.
He added that he is "open" to doing any type of movie — including ones with gay leads.
"We are always encouraging people to bring us stories across the board. And it’s not always that simple a process where you put the word out and you get back three great scripts and three great stories. We put the word out that we’re doing an original series and we get 50 bad stories. So it’s not as easy as I think you’re making it sound and it’s certainly something that we do discuss consistently with our team and with our talent and with the agencies," said Abbott.