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Rob Owen: Hallmark Channel And Card Division Team Up For Christmas Special

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By Rob Owen

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

(MCT)

It’s surprising it took this long, but Saturday’s 8 p.m. premiere of Hallmark Channel’s “Northpole” marks the first true collaboration between the cable network and Hallmark Cards for a two-hour movie. But it won’t be the last.

The film tells the story of a harried single mother (Tiffani Thiessen) and her son (Max Charles) who befriends Clementine (Bailee Madison), an elf from the North Pole who’s trying to save Christmas from a worldwide phenomenon of people who are too busy to share the happiness that powers the holiday season.

“As we’ve grown our holiday season programming we’ve demonstrated not only to our parent company but to all our consumers and advertisers and affiliates that we are the destination for Christmas,” said Hallmark executive vice president of programming Michelle Vicary in a phone interview. That has included a Christmas in July stunt the past two years that coincided with a preview of new ornaments in Hallmark stores. “They were starting to talk about a new way to talk about Christmas in stores and developing a bigger product line and it made sense to come together on this one and the stars aligned.”

Several gadgets featured in “Northpole,” including a Northpole communicator, a magic snowball and a glowing “Find Me, Santa!” snowflake ornament, are all available in Hallmark stores.

Vicary said “Northpole” grew out of the card company developing a backstory for the North Pole.

“What it looks like and feels like to those who live there and what their lives are like,” she said. “It was developed out of that as opposed to, here’s a product now make a story. They came at it from, what is the magic of the North Pole and what is the natural extension of products that come out of that story. That made it easy for us to incorporate the product into our story because it does come out of the backstory they were developing about the North Pole from the store perspective.”

The two Hallmark entities previously worked together on two animated “Jingle” specials about a husky pup that was made available as a stuffed animal in Hallmark stores. And collaborations are expected to continue on “Northpole 2” for 2015 and another film for 2016.

In addition, there’s a “Northpole” animated spinoff special in the works. A scene in the first film shows Clementine watching the most popular TV show in the North Pole, “Polarific.” A six-minute “Polarific” short will be included in “Northpole” DVDs sold at Wal-Mart and a half-hour Hallmark Channel prime-time special is in the works for next year.

In addition, the cable network and card store plan to collaborate for Valentine’s Day 2016.

“We’re looking to create the same kind of commitment to another holiday where we want to find a new way to talk about Valentine’s Day in stories and we’re developing what that entertainment piece will look like,” Vicary said.

And there is a Super Bowl collaboration in the works, too. Hallmark stores will sell trading cards of the cats featured in Hallmark Channel’s “Kitten Bowl,” which airs Super Bowl Sunday, Feb. 1, 2015.

©2014 Rob Owen

Visit Rob Owen at www.post-gazette.com

Distributed by MCT Information Services

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Rob Owen: Hallmark Channel And Card Division Team Up For Christmas Special