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Hallmark: Love First, Genres Later

Pasadena, Calif. -- Hallmark Channel will flood its programming days with romance films in February before converting to a scheduling scheme in March that will see each weeknight devoted to genres.

The network also plans to launch a public-affairs drive later this year designed to promote viewing of movies by whole families, as well as debuting a drama centering on the stresses of families dealing with Alzheimer's disease, written by Patti Davis, daughter of late president Ronald Reagan.

Before a meeting of the nation's television critics here, CEO Henry Schleiff said viewers will find comfort in the "predictability" of the schedule due in March, where they will know Mondays will be devoted to mysteries and Tuesdays tear-jerkers, etc.

The February lineup will include original fare such as Love Is a Four-Letter Word, starring Teri Polo and Robert Mailhouse as cynical divorce attorneys who find love with each other; and acquisitions such as Green Card with Gerard Depardieu and The In-Laws with Albert Brooks and Michael Douglas.

Originals scheduled later in the year include Sacrifices of the Heart, the Davis-penned drama, starring Melissa Gilbert and Ken Howard; Pandemic, depicting a jetliner bearing a toxic virus headed for Los Angeles; and Marco Polo with Ian Somerhalder.

Schleiff also announced that the channel has been bestowed with the first Integrity in Entertainment Award by the Parents Television Council, the national grassroots group that patrols television to protest sex, violence and profanity viewed by children.