The Hallmark Channel’s in some hot water with The Hollywood Reporter.
According to the entertainment staple, the network’s been severely lacking in diversity — not only racially, but with regard to religion.
As reported by THR, Hallmark is only offering four Christmas movies in 2019 featuring black actors or actresses as leads. Furthermore, it spotlighted virtually no other religions than Judaism and Christianity.
Here’s how they put it:
Of the network’s record 24 original holiday movies this season, four of them have black leads. And that’s down from last year, when five of its 21 original holiday movies had black leads.
And outside of Christians, viewers aren’t being represented in the titles:
Countdown to Christmas programming started the week before Halloween this year and represents more than two-thirds of Hallmark Channel’s yearly original movies. This year’s titles include Write Before Christmas (airing on Thanksgiving night), Christmas at the Plaza, Christmas Town, Christmas at Dollywood and, airing on Christmas, When Calls the Heart Christmas.
Missing from Hallmark’s festive roster? Any other religion in the title. That’s especially interesting given that Hallmark last year announced that it would be producing two Hanukkah movies in 2019 — Holiday Date (Dec. 14) and a Double Holiday (Dec. 22). Double Holiday is a romance between a woman who is Jewish, while Holiday Date features a Jewish guy pretending to be Mr. Christmas.
THR had a particularly good zinger here:
[H]allmark is delivering the dream of a white Christmas, just like the one’s audiences used to know.
CEO Bill Abbott — of Hallmark parent company Crown Media Family Networks — sees the characterization as unfair:
“I think that generalization isn’t fair either, that we just have Christmas with white leads. 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.”
Bill explained a bit about the religion issue:
“It’s hard if we start to slice up the pie, so to speak, and make movies based off of specific holidays. 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. … [O]nce 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.”
No religion necessary — in Bill’s view, has essentially become a non-religious holiday:
“I think Christmas has become almost a secular type of holiday more than Hanukkah, which really does have more of a religious feel. I think Hanukkah, from a religious point of view, is not necessarily as commercial and not necessarily as much about gift-giving and it’s really about what those eight nights signify from the religious point of view. So I’m not ruling it out as something we would not do but this is kind of our first foray into this type of double holiday mix with a lot of Hanukkah in both movies [and] a lot of the celebration of how those nights are celebrated and experienced by those who practice the religion.”
Furthermore, as relayed by The Daily Wire, more diversity’s com’in’:
Abbott did…say that the Hallmark Channel has an interest in featuring other diverse leads, including LGBT.
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