Hallmark: Reliably Comforting (Jane Seymour, Ed Asner, Chandra Wilson etc.)

While not quite as wacky fun as other years - when Hallmark EVP/Programming David Kenin leaped (on camera) trampoline -like - during Hallmark’s Television Critics Association panel this morning, Kenin planted himself among the panelists (not at the podium), and read from prepared remarks.

Hallmark is proudly the geezer network, riding the "great underserved" (Kenin’s words) boomer wave with comfort-food programming starring iconic television personalities - Jane Seymour, Dick Van Dyke and Ed Asner, to name just a few.

(Kenin is currently moving many of his stars through the panel, as I write.)

"Our audience has assets, not allowances," said Kenin."This demographic spends 17 trillion annually.  They’re loyal television viewers.  They remain a consumer force to be reckoned with."

Jane Seymour took the stage looking truly, truly mah-velous in a powder-blue, short-sleeved dress.  After the expected questions about her previous television appearances -  "will Dr. Quinn ever be remade into a made for tv movie on Hallmark?" and "tell us about Dancing with the Stars" - the conversation moved on to her new Hallmark film Dear Prudence, about a Martha Stewart-like advice columnist turned detective.

Seymour was gracious and articulate, gracefully steering questions back to her Hallmark project.  She did say she lost 22 pounds during her Dancing with The Stars turn.

Seymour guested on the real Martha Stewart show at one point.  Not shown on camera:  during her appearance, Martha "burnt the pot roast."  Seymour said she’s done a lot of comedy lately.  Her husband’s opinion of such things:  "Can we slow down on the cougars?"

Ed Asner perhaps holds the record for Hallmark movie roles.

When asked about the cranky grandfather typecasting, Asner quipped, "Moi?"

Of his co-star in his latest movie, Generation Gap, Asner said the young man is "better looking than my own grand kids."

When asked the predicted "what did you glean from this role?" question, Asner replied, "how to role a reefer."

After the laughter died down, he added: "Sanskrit?"

On a serious note, Asner disclosed that he’ll vote to strike in the latest labor dispute.

(Asner served as National President of the Screen Actors Guild from 1981 to 1985.  He was a leading activist during the actors’ strike of 1980.)

In response to a question, Asner decried the state of the industry and spoke longingly of MGM.

"There was lush and glory.   Under ‘Kirk’ Kerkorian - he had taken over MGM by then - it was like the city on the hill had sunk into the ghetto.  It looked like a dump.  It stayed a dump.  I guess Sony has it now.  It was amazing to see the deterioration.  It was shocking to see what happened to MGM because it was king.  Along with that deterioration, there was a lot of sadness, disappointment.  Now everyone in Hollywood is seeking to find a stabilization out of the chaos from run away production, reality shows.  Who owns the network this week?"

Up right now and gamely fielding questions about Katherine Heigl’s Emmy snit is Grey’s Anatomy’s Chandra Wilson -  in house (with Ben Vereen) to promote Hallmark’s Accidental Friendship, a true story about the friendship between a police officer and a homeless woman.