Hallmark Channel devotes weekdays to Martha Stewart

NEW YORK (Mediaweek) - Just two months after Martha Stewart announced she was bringing her first-run syndicated program to Hallmark Channel, the do-it-yourself doyenne unveiled details of her more comprehensive deal with the cable net.

As part of an agreement that grants Hallmark Channel the exclusive rights to license the entire Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia (MSLO) TV library, the network will begin running a daily seven-hour lifestyle-programing block.

Beginning Monday, Hallmark Channel will offer a blend of repurposed MSLO segments, including “From Martha’s Kitchen,” “From Martha’s Home” and “From Martha’s Garden.” The lifestyle block will run weekdays from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. A more compact block will appear each weekend, in the 6 a.m.-9 a.m. slot.

Other MSLO titles that will turn up on Hallmark Channel include “Petkeeping With Marc Morrone,” “Everyday Food” and “Martha Stewart Living.” Seasonal specials also are part of the package.

The deal comes on the heels of the January 26 announcement that Stewart’s NBC Universal talk show would move to Hallmark Channel in September 2010.

The network’s primetime schedule will continue to favor original movies and acquired series, but according to Bill Abbott, CEO of operating company Crown Media, the embrace of lifestyle programing will engender a shift of scripted fare to the upstart Hallmark Movie Channel.

“Once we begin gearing up our lifestyle efforts, we will move more of our original movies to Hallmark Movie Channel,” Abbott said.

In a bid to draw a wider audience, Hallmark’s upcoming movie projects feature youthful casts. On April 24, “Beverly Hills 90210” star Brian Austin Green stars in “The Wild Girl,” a period piece about an orphan who falls in with an Apache tribe. Jodi Lyn O’Keefe (“Prison Break”), Jennifer Esposito (“Samantha Who?”), Alicia Witt (“Friday Night Lights”) and Shannen Doherty (“90210”) will appear in Hallmark Channel originals during the 2010-11 season.