Lori Loughlin is finally returning to television. The Fuller House star will reprise her role as Abigail Stanton from the series When Calls the Heart, this time in the show’s spinoff When Hope Calls.
Though originally a Hallmark production, When Hope Calls has been picked up for a second season by GAC Family, a new network started by former Hallmark exec Bill Abbott.
Loughlin has been absent from the small screen since 2019 when news broke of her involvement in a college admissions bribery scandal. Loughlin and her husband, Mossimo Giannulli, were accused of paying $500,000 and lying about their daughters’ credentials to get the girls into the University of Southern California as recruits for the crew team. Loughlin pleaded guilty and served two months in federal prison.
Earlier this month, a federal judge granted permission for Loughlin to travel to Canada for work.
Loughlin played widow Abigail Stanton on When Calls the Heart for five and a half seasons. She was filming Season 6 of When Calls the Heart when news broke of her involvement in the college admissions scandal.
The show took a month-long hiatus as writers and producers decided what to do with her character. They eventually wrote her out of the show.
The parent company of GAC Family, GAC Media, broke the news of Loughlin’s return to television in an Instagram post. According to Deadline, Loughlin will appear in a two-part Christmas special that will kick off Season 2 for When Hope Calls.
In When Hope Calls: A Country Christmas, her character will bring a troubled young boy to the orphanage run by sisters Lilian and Grace. The special is set to air on December 18 on GAC Family.
Abbott made headlines earlier this year when he announced the formation of GAC Media, a partnership backed by Dallas-based Hicks Equity Partners LLC. The company bought two networks in a deal Bloomberg reported was worth $90 million.
The new Hallmark?
Abbott has already recruited several Hallmark stars to appear in movies and shows on his new networks. Debbie Matenopoulos and Cameron Mathison will host a Christmas special that will follow the format of Home and Family, a Hallmark series that was canceled earlier this year.
Jen Lilley, Chad Michael Murray, and Jessica Lowndes will also appear in holiday movies on the network.
Abbott left his position at Crown Media Family Networks in January 2020, following controversy over the company’s decision to pull an ad that featured two women kissing. He was replaced by Wonya Lucas in July 2021.
A spinoff of When Calls the Heart, When Hope Calls follows sisters Lilian (Morgan Kohan) and Grace (Jocelyn Hudon), who leave Hope Valley to run an orphanage in the small Canadian town of Brookfield. The series ran for one season on Hallmark Channel, debuting in August 2019.
When Hope Calls: A Country Christmas will air on GAC Family on December 18.