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Hallmark’s ‘When Calls the Heart’ on hiatus after Lori Loughlin

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Officials say the actresses were involved in the nation’s largest-ever college admissions bribery case prosecuted by the Justice Department.
USA TODAY

“When Calls the Heart,” the Hallmark Channel series that once starred Lori Loughlin, is on a “creative hiatus” after cutting ties with the actress following the college cheating scandal.

Hallmark’s parent company, Crown Media, ousted Loughlin last week after she was arrested for paying $500,000 to guarantee her two daughters – Olivia Jade and Isabella Rose – admission to the University of Southern California as members of the crew team, though neither was an athlete. Loughlin’s husband, designer Mossimo Giannulli, was also arrested. 

“We are saddened by the recent news surrounding the college admissions allegations,” Crown Media Family Networks said in a statement to USA TODAY on March 14. “We are no longer working with Lori Loughlin and have stopped development of all productions that air on the Crown Media Family Network channels involving Lori Loughlin.”

Related: Lori Loughlin fired by Hallmark after admissions scandal; Olivia Jade dropped by sponsors

The network pulled the series from the air amid the scandal, leaving the remainder of the season up in the air while Hallmark said they are, “evaluating all creative options.” And by then, Loughlin had been scrubbed from promotional photos, like including the banner on the show’s Facebook page.

But executive producer Brian Bird took to Instagram Saturday to reassure “Hearties” that the series will not be canceled, though it may take some time returning to the small screen. 

“With the full support of the network, we have gone on a creative hiatus to do some retooling on the remaining Season 6 episodes,” Bird said in a statement posted on Instagram. “That process has already begun. Hope Valley will return to your TV screens as soon as we can bring the episodes to you.”

Related: Lori Loughlin joked of spending ‘all this money’ on Olivia Jade’s education in old video

Loughlin, 54, played Abigail Stanton on the the Hallmark Channel’s drama, which captured a series-best 2.5 million viewers during February’s Season 6 premiere, finishing second to “The Walking Dead” in Sunday night cable dramas.

However, Bird said the show’s success “has always been bigger than the sum of its parts,” referring to the disgraced actress.

In the lengthy statement, Bird added the entire cast “was surprised by these developments (surrounding Loughlin), so we hope you can forgive us for initially staying silent while we sorted through how to respond.”

He thanked the show’s fans for their continued support, adding it “brought a lot of tears to the eyes of our cast and crew and to the good folks at Hallmark Channel.” 

A return date for “When Calls the Heart” has not been announced. 

Contributing: The Associated Press, Leora Arnowitz

Related: Olivia Jade’s former classmate describes ‘super-elite’ school with ‘insane’ expectations

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