"Countdown to Christmas" has become a holiday season juggernaut, thanks to Crown Media CEO Bill Abbott -- who was inspired by Hallmark Card commercials -- and Michelle Vicary, Crown Media’s executive vice-president of programming and network publicity. "Abbott and Vicary read every script and watch every movie," says Sarah Larson. "The Christmas movies are generally shot in fifteen days, in minimal takes and with maximum efficiency, in affordable, often Canadian, locations; they use 'actuals'—existing locations, not soundstages. Abbott and Vicary coached the development team to be 'brand ambassadors,' who insure that each element of a production has a distinctive Hallmark feel, down to the decorative mise en scène. Vicary told me, “We’re not afraid to look at the dailies and call them up and say, ‘Not enough Christmas.’" Abbott says the goal of Hallmark's programming is to be “your place to go to get away from politics, to get away from everything in your life that is problematic and negative, and to feel like there are people out there who are good human beings that could make you feel happy to be part of the human race.” Abbott and Vicary say they take pains to be apolitical. "The only thing we do promote is pet adoption," he says. ALSO: How to "write" a Hallmark "Countdown to Christmas" movie script.