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

SLIDESHOW: Abbotsford’s fourth annual Open Mosque Day

Abbotsford Islamic Centre opens its doors to educate others

Two prolific offenders from Alberta lead RCMP on chase across Fraser Valley

Men first reported in Chilliwack ending with allegedly stolen vehicle in an Abbotsford pond

Arson charge laid in connection to Mission Canadian Tire fire

Charges of Arson with disregard for human life have been laid against 26-year-old Quince Chalifoux

PHOTOS: Wet’suwet’en supporters gather in Abbotsford

Solidarity march sees group of 50 people walk around Downtown Abbotsford

Another Abbotsford resident defrauded with elaborate phone scam

Thieves steal almost $16,000 from one resident, the tenth known victim in last 5 month

VIDEO: 2020 BC Winter Games wrap up in Fort St. John as torch passes to Maple Ridge

More than 1,000 athletes competed in the 2020 BC Winter Games

Winds up to 70 km/hr expected across Metro Vancouver

Winds are expected to subside overnight

Still six cases of COVID-19 in B.C. despite reports of Air Canada passenger: ministry

Health ministry wouldn’t comment on specific flight routes

Fraser Valley Cultural Diversity Awards release nominations

Ceremony takes place on March 12, which includes a dinner, awards program, and a guest speaker.

Violent ends to past Indigenous protests haunt Trudeau government

Trudeau adopted a more assertive tone Friday, insisting the barricade must come down

Fraser Health warns some schools of possible COVID-19 exposure

A sixth COVID-19 patient is a woman in her 30s in the Fraser Health region who recently returned from Iran

High-risk sex offender cuts off ankle bracelet, on the loose in Vancouver: police

Vancouver police said Kirstjon Olson, 38, is a provincial sex offender with 27 court-ordered conditions

Most Read