Hallmark’s frequent hires: Why some stars appear there so often

TV Pipeline

Candace Cameron Bure

Q: Why do the same actors appear in all the Hallmark movies? Different hairstyles, but always the same people. – Bettianne Jones, East Palestine, Ohio

A: Well, it’s not literally “all” of them. However, you can attribute your thought to the “family” feel the network has built itself on, which it has done in part by building a family of actors (particularly female ones) who work there time and again – Lori Loughlin, Lacey Chabert, Kellie Martin, Candace Cameron Bure, Jill Wagner, Alison Sweeney, Maggie Lawson, Taylor Cole, Sarah Lancaster … and that’s just to name a relative few.

Their returns are even more guaranteed if their movies (and, in some cases, series) are solid ratings performers. Such popular titles get repeated a lot, particularly on Hallmark Movies & Mysteries, which largely is about those films 24/7 (though it’s also a home for such shows as “Murder, She Wrote” and the Lawson-co-starring “Psych”). Trust us, you’ll keep seeing those familiar faces, but others are being added in: As one example, Kristin Chenoweth has just filmed her first holiday movie for Hallmark.

Katie LeClerc

Q: We really enjoyed watching “Switched at Birth.” What years did it air? Will there be a sequel? What happened to the “family”? – Bennie Martinez, via e-mail

A: The ABC Family/Freeform drama had a five-season run (which might have seemed longer, but it skipped presenting new episodes in 2016 and it also split a couple of seasons into halves) that began in the summer of 2011. There’s been no serious talk of a revival or spinoff, though such “Switched” stars as Vanessa Marano and Katie LeClerc have made it clear in interviews that they’d be up for returning.

In terms of what the central actors have been doing since, here’s a rundown: LeClerc has done hosting for the Sony Crackle streaming service, and she’s been in the Lifetime movies “Psycho In-Law” and “A Bride’s Revenge”; Marano appeared on ABC’s “Station 19” and in the live-action “Scooby-Doo” movie “Daphne & Velma”; Lea Thompson has done a considerable amount of directing, on such shows as ABC’s “The Goldbergs” and CBS’ “Mom”; D.W. Moffett has been on ABC’s “How to Get Away With Murder,” the Hulu streaming series “The First” and NBC’s “Chicago Med”; and Constance Marie was on NBC’s “Law & Order True Crime: The Menendez Murders.”

Q: It’s nice to see Michael Douglas getting recognition for returning to television in “The Kominsky Method.” How long was he on “The Streets of San Francisco”? – Sam Redmond, Providence, R.I.

A: He left the role of Inspector Steve Keller at the start of the fifth and final season of the ABC crime drama, since at that time in the mid-1970s, he had other career concerns … as a movie producer. Douglas won his first Oscar as one of the producers of the 1975 screen version of “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest,” after getting the rights to make it from his screen-legend father, Kirk. A later “Streets of San Francisco” TV-movie sequel referenced Douglas through a photograph of him.

Q: Please settle an argument. Was there ever a TV-series version of the classic Spencer Tracy-Katharine Hepburn movie “Adam’s Rib”? – Julia Davies, Lake Worth, Fla.

A: There was. In 1973, ABC aired a short-lived sitcom version with Ken Howard and Blythe Danner as the married lawyers at the heart of the show. The two performers were used to playing spouses, since they had been Thomas and Martha Jefferson in both the Broadway and movie renderings of the musical “1776.”

Q: Was “Damages” always an FX series? I watched all the episodes that were shown there, but I recently saw some that I can’t recall seeing before. – Kathy Lang, via e-mail

A: For its first three seasons, the law drama that starred Glenn Close and Rose Byrne was an FX offering. After its run there ended, the show moved to DirecTV’s Audience Network for two additional seasons, and those likely are the episodes you’ve watched lately. Season 4 had John Goodman as a major cast addition, while Season 5 featured Ryan Phillippe and Jenna Elfman. (All of the seasons were made available on home video.)

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Jay Bobbin

Jay Bobbin

Jay Bobbin has decades of experience covering the television and movie businesses, winning Tribune Media Services’ Crown Jewel Award in 2008 for his performance in the company. Over those many years of interviewing and writing, he has spoken with everyone from Robert De Niro and John Travolta to Paul McCartney and Tony Bennett … from Meryl Streep and Julie Andrews to Taylor Swift and Carrie Underwood.

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