Of Hallmark's record 24 original holiday movies, four have black leads -- down from five last year. "I think that generalization isn't fair either, that we just have Christmas with white leads," says Bill Abbott, who serves as CEO of Hallmark parent Crown Media Family Networks, in an interview with The Hollywood Reporter's TV's Top 5 podcast. "In terms of broadening out the demographic, it’s something we’re always thinking about, always considering and we’ll continue to make the movies where the best scripts are delivered to us and what we think have the most potential." Last year, Hallmark announced it would air not one but two Hanukkah-themed movies for the first time during "Countdown to Christmas." But the two movies, Holiday Date, airing Dec. 14, and Double Holiday, airing Dec. 22, have titles that don't distinguish themselves as being Hanukkah-themed movies. Abbott explains that Hallmark's "Countdown to Christmas" is not focused on programming from a religious point of view. "It’s hard if we start to slice up the pie, so to speak, and make movies based off of specific holidays," he says. "So, if we were to look at Kwanzaa, for example, or other religions and how they celebrate the holidays it’s a little bit more difficult because we don’t look at Christmas from a religious point of view, it’s more a seasonal celebration. Once you start to slice it more finely within individual religions it’s a little bit tougher to necessarily tell that story in a way that doesn’t involve religion and we always want to stay clear of religion or controversy."
TOPICS: Countdown to Christmas, Hallmark Channel, Bill Abbott, Christmas, Hanukkah, Holiday Programming