FILE - In this Feb. 28, 2019 file photo, actress Lori Loughlin, center, poses with daughters Olivia Jade Giannulli, left, and Isabella Rose Giannulli at the 2019 “An Unforgettable Evening” in Beverly Hills, Calif. Loughlin and her husband Mossimo Giannulli were charged along with nearly 50 other people Tuesday in a scheme in which wealthy parents bribed college coaches and other insiders to get their children into some of the most elite schools in the country, federal prosecutors said. (Photo by Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP, File)

Lori Loughlin loses starring roles on B.C.-based Hallmark Channel films

Loughlin has not yet entered a plea in case accusing her of U.S. college bribery scam

The Hallmark Channel cut ties Thursday with favoured star Lori Loughlin, a day after her arrest in a college admissions scam put the family-friendly network and extended Hallmark brand in uncomfortable proximity to a national scandal.

“We are saddened by the recent allegations surrounding the college admissions process,” Hallmark Cards Inc., parent company of the Crown Media Family Networks group that includes the Hallmark Channel, said in a statement.

“We are no longer working with Lori Loughlin” and have stopped development of all productions with the actress for Crown Media channels, the statement said.

The company initially took a wait-and-see approach after a federal investigation of the scam involving more than 30 parents, many of them prominent, was revealed Tuesday. Loughlin and her husband, fashion designer Mossimo Giannulli, are accusedof paying bribes to gain their daughters’ college admissions.

Loughlin’s career and the Hallmark Channel were deeply intertwined. She’s been among its so-called “Christmas queens” who topline a slate of popular holiday movies, and also starred in the ongoing “Garage Sale Mysteries” movies and the series “When Calls the Heart.”

READ MORE: Lori Loughlin allowed to finish Langley film work, despite U.S. college bribery arrest

“It’s a feel-good, family values-type channel, and obviously scandal is the opposite of that,” said Atlanta-based market strategist Laura Ries.

There was more at stake than image. “When Calls the Heart” tapes in Canada, and a judge ordered Loughlin’s passport to be surrendered in December after grudgingly allowing her to cross the border for work until then.

Loughlin has not yet entered a plea in the case, and her attorney declined comment Wednesday after her first appearance in a Los Angeles federal court. Loughlin’s publicist declined comment Thursday on Hallmark’s decision to drop her.

The actress wasn’t exclusive to Hallmark. She’s reprised her role as Aunt Becky for Netflix’s “Fuller House” reboot of the popular series that originated in 1987 on ABC. But the sitcom represents a fraction of the streamer’s flood of programs, while Loughlin has occupied an increasing amount of Hallmark real estate since she starred in “Meet My Mom” in 2010.

She’s proved a reliable performer. Her 2018 holiday movie, “Homegrown Christmas,” was the most-watched non-sports cable program the week it aired. In February, the season six premiere of “When Calls the Heart” was watched by a series-best 2.5 million viewers, putting it behind only “The Walking Dead” in Sunday night cable dramas.

“They definitely have a formula and you do have to follow the formula. And if you don’t, they rein you back in and say, ‘You have to follow. This is our format, this is what we do,’” Loughlin said in an interview last year with The Associated Press about the Christmas movies.

She said the rigidity chafes a bit but called the result “heartwarming,” adding, “You go to bed and you don’t have any bad dreams.”

The New York City native with a sunny smile proved a good fit for the channel that specializes in romantic dramas and comedies with a wholesome touch, while her media-friendly personality allowed her to expertly tout her shows on her website and in TV appearances.

Then came Tuesday’s bombshell government allegation that Loughlin and her husband were among more than 30 parents who paid a consultant to ensure their offspring’s place in college with bribes and falsified exams. Prosecutors allege the couple paid $500,000 to have their daughters labeled as crew-team recruits at the University of Southern California, although neither is a rower.

Felicity Huffman (“Desperate Housewives,” ”American Crime”) was among the other prominent parents, including a lawyer, doctor and a venture capitalist, indicted in the scam.

Hallmark Cards, the Kansas City, Missouri, enterprise started in 1910, has moved quickly before to respond to any flare-ups, such as in when it removed a gift wrap from circulation after one person complained of seeing a swastika in its pattern.

Misbehaviour may be unusual in the Hallmark world but is nothing new for Hollywood, with the fallout from sex and other scandals affecting celebrities and companies. But the white-collar crime Loughlin is accused of is akin to that of another unlikely scofflaw: Martha Stewart, who was convicted in 2004 of obstructing justice and lying to the government about a stock sale.

“She lost trust,” said Robert Passikoff, president of Brand Keys, a New York-based brand research firm. So did her empire, despite Stewart’s efforts to separate her personal actions from it: “Wrong — you’re the brand,” he said.

While Stewart may exemplify her business, Loughlin wasn’t the only engaging star on Hallmark’s roster. “Full House” co-star Candace Cameron Bure and Lacey Chabert are among its popular holiday movie stars, and another emerged this year as Kellie Pickler’s “Christmas At Graceland” ranked as the most-watched entry.

“There are other actresses out there, whether they find or develop another to replace her,” said Ries.

Lynn Elber, The Associated Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Bernard Avenue will be closed to vehicles this summer

Kelowna’s main drag will be a pedestrian-only roadway from June 29 through the Labour Day long weekend

Kelowna’s Homebase Baseball Tournament cancelled

A live auction will still take place to raise funds for Joeanna’s House

Kelowna General Hospital Foundation launches fundraising initiative to support local health care

The initiative also highlights workers at Kelowna General Hospital

Kelowna man charged with animal cruelty

The 20-year-old Kelowna resident remains in custody

Proposed wine centre in historic downtown Kelowna building moved to public hearing

The public will get an opportunity to give input on the proposed 625-person capacity wine centre

Video: Okanagan mayors encourage water conservation this summer

Water conservation this summer could be more important than ever, experts say

Vernon gym knocked out by COVID-19

9Round Fitness in Vernon Square Mall owners announce permanent closure of facility

Snapshot: Distanced dancing in Salmon Arm

Friends use picnic shelter at Blackburn Park for safe practice

High tech fish transport system set up to ‘whoosh’ salmon past Big Bar landslide

Fish will spend roughly 20 seconds inside the system, moving at roughly 20 metres per second

Trudeau to seek 10 days of paid sick leave for Canadian workers, says talks are ongoing

Paid sick leave is key to keeping COVID-19 spread under control, prime minister says

Snowbirds jets will not be leaving Kamloops, just yet

The Snowbirds have been in Kamloops since May 17 when a plane crashed killing Capt. Jennifer Casey

COVID-19 checkpoints ‘up to them,’ Bonnie Henry says of remote B.C. villages

Support local tourism economy, but only if you’re invited in

Vancouver Island hasn’t seen a new homegrown case of COVID-19 in two weeks

Island’s low and steady transmission rate chalked up to several factors

COVID-19 Pets: What you need to know

An infograph from Cyberpets.com explains how to care for your pet during COVID-19

Most Read