GAC's Bill Abbott Takes Page From Hallmark with 'Great American Christmas'

GAC Media Great American Christmas
Cameron Mathison and Debbie Matenopoulos host 'Welcome to Great American Christmas' (Image credit: GAC Media)

Taking another page from the family-friendly Hallmark playbook, GAC Media CEO Bill Abbott, the former head of the Hallmark Channel, is launching a new holiday franchise--and launching it early.

GAC Media Great American Christmas

(Image credit: GAC Media)

A special, Welcome to Great American Christmas, hosted by Debbie Matenopoulos and Cameron Mathison, will premiere Oct. 24 on the GAC Family channel, which will officially launch Sept. 27. Matenopoulos and Mathison were hosts of Hallmark Channel's Home & Family daytime show when Abbott ran the network.

The special will preview upcoming GAC Family holiday movies and celebrity guests will stop by to share Christmas craft and recipe ideas.

Among the Great American Christmas holiday movies is A Kindhearted Christmas, starring Mathison and Jennie Garth, which will have its debut on Nov. 20. More movies and specials will be announced at a later date, the company said.

Led by Abbott and backed by Hicks Equity Partners, GAC Media acquired the Great American Country and Ride TV cable channels. Abbott said GAC Media would focus on the kind of family-friendly programming that draws viewers and advertisers to Crown Media Family Networks' Hallmark Channel.

Last month, Abbott announced that the cable channels were being renamed effective Sept. 27, with Great American Country becoming GAC Family and Ride TV becoming GAC Living and would serve as the company’s flagship channels.

GAC Family will operate under the tagline “Stories Well Told.” GAC Living’s motto will be “Life Well Lived.”

In GAC Family’s movie A Kindhearted Christmas, Garth owns a sightseeing company in a small town in New York State. During the holiday, she decides to adopt her late husband’s habit of making gestures that make people happy during the holidays. Watching TV, she learns about a high school’s fundraising effort and makes a big anonymous donation. Her town catches the giving sprint, and the TV station’s anchorman, played by Mathison, drops in to report on the Secret Santa, eventually finding Garth.

A Kindhearted Christmas comes from Motion Picture Corp. of America. Executive Producers are Brad Krevoy, Amanda Phillips, Eric Jarboe, Tara Cowell-Plain, Jimmy Townsend, Cara J. Russell, Susie Belzberg Krevoy, Michael Shepherd and Doran Chandler. Producer is Mick McKay. Supervising Producer is Jonathan Shore. Associate Producer is Rob Grant. Directed by Alyssa Leite-Rogers. Story by Jennifer Barrow. Original teleplay by Jennifer Barrow and Amyn Kaderali.

Welcome to Great American Christmas is directed by Leon Knoles.

Jon Lafayette

Jon has been business editor of Broadcasting+Cable since 2010. He focuses on revenue-generating activities, including advertising and distribution, as well as executive intrigue and merger and acquisition activity. Just about any story is fair game, if a dollar sign can make its way into the article. Before B+C, Jon covered the industry for TVWeek, Cable World, Electronic Media, Advertising Age and The New York Post. A native New Yorker, Jon is hiding in plain sight in the suburbs of Chicago.