What exactly happened with that Hallmark movie, Hear My Song, that CBS was to air over the weekend? The telemovie had some big names attached—Dustin Hoffman as a choirmaster and Kathy Bates as a school official. The film was initially released with the title Boychoir, and it appears a series of sex abuse cases at a school called the American Boychoir School doomed the film, despite its uplifting message.
Hear My Song is about an orphaned boy whose bad behavior obscures his angelic singing voice, until he enters a boarding school where the demanding choir master, played by Hoffman, pushes him to make the most of his gifts.
Eddie Izzard, Debra Winger and Josh Lucas are also in the cast.
Hear My Song falls under the Hallmark Hall of Fame brand. Hallmark is not saying anything beyond its statement, which reads:
“While the movie and actors were not intended to depict any particular individual, organization or institution, Hallmark was recently made aware of serious allegations of misconduct made many years ago at a school similar to the one depicted in the movie. After careful consideration, it was decided that the movie will not air on CBS, Hallmark Channel or Hallmark Movies & Mysteries.”
In 2002, the New York Times ran a lengthy expose in which a dozen alumni of the American Boychoir School in New Jersey, detailed a pattern of sex abuse by two choirmasters, as well as other staff members. Wrote the paper: “The portrait of the American Boychoir School that emerges from a review of court documents and interviews with alumni, former staff members and trustees contains echoes of the problems of sex abuse being disclosed in the Catholic Church.”
After filing for bankruptcy last spring, the school reopened in a new location this past fall.
Numerous would-be viewers who tuned in hoping to see Hear My Song instead got repeats of NCIS: New Orleans and Criminal Minds. One, Maria Watts-Newman, wrote on the B&C site:
CBS not only robs the public of a story that is empowering as it is endearing, but also robs those talented child singers from the American Boychoir to get their due notice for their angelic voices and AMAZING talent. Decades of boys have been through that school without incidence since the alleged crime...my three were among them.
No one from CBS or Hallmark has said if the movie will ever be rescheduled, though that seems very doubtful.
And one can pick up a copy of the DVD bearing the original title, Boychoir, on Amazon for 50 bucks.
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Michael Malone, senior content producer at B+C/Multichannel News, covers network programming, including entertainment, news and sports on broadcast, cable and streaming; and local broadcast television. He hosts the podcasts Busted Pilot, about what’s new in television, and Series Business, a chat with the creator of a new program, and writes the column “The Watchman.” He joined B+C in 2005. His journalism has also appeared in The New York Times, The Philadelphia Inquirer, Playboy and New York magazine.