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‘Paradise’ Found: Hallmark Preps Selleck Debut

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A year after the rebrand of Hallmark Movies and Mysteries, the channel seeks to make a splash with its first installment of an annual Tom Selleck TV movie franchise. Jesse Stone: Lost in Paradise, with Selleck as the brooding chief of police in Paradise, Mass., airs Oct. 25 on Hallmark Movies and Mysteries, as Hallmark Movie Channel became known last fall, following a debut on Hallmark Oct. 18.

Michelle Vicary, Hallmark executive VP of programming, says the premiere is “right up there” in terms of event programming on HMM.

Produced by Sony Pictures Television, the telepics aired on CBS for eight years, running on Hallmark after their premiere. Three years ago, CBS approached Hallmark about taking on the franchise outright. The Hallmark brain trust decided to premiere the new movie separately on its two channels. “I don’t think we’ll see an erosion of audience,” Vicary says of the staggered debuts. “Two distinct audiences come to those channels.”

Hallmark is of course gearing up for its holiday season sweet spot, while HMM is playing up its dramatic movies, often with a name star, such as Selleck. “We knew our audience had trust in the character, and in Tom’s portrayal of the character,” says Vicary, who adds that more Stone movies are likely.

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.