Lori Loughlin is making a comeback after her brief stint in jail with When Hope Calls, a spinoff of the Hallmark Channel series When Calls the Heart. Loughlin will appear in the show's second season premiere, a two-hour Christmas special that debuts on Dec. 18 on GAC Family, a recently-launched cable network. On Friday, the former Great American Country channel released the first teaser for "A Country Christmas," featuring Loughlin as Abigail Stanton.
Loughlin starred as Abigail on the first six seasons of When Calls the Heart, but Hallmark announced it would no longer work with Loughlin after she was arrested in 2019 for her role in the college admissions bribery scandal. Her character was written out of When Calls the Heart and Crown Media Family Network channels stopped airing Garage Sale Mysteries movies starring Loughlin.
The actress and her husband Mossimo Giannulli were arrested in March 2019. In May 2020, they agreed to plead guilty to charges stemming from paying $500,000 to have their daughters Olivia Jade Giannulli, 22, and Isabella Rose Giannulli, 23, as crew recruits so they would be admitted to the University of Southern California, even though neither of them participated in the sport. Loughlin was sentenced to two months in jail, a $150,000 fine and 150 hours of community service. Giannulli received a five-month jail sentence, and was ordered to pay a $250,00 fine and complete 250 hours of community service.
Louglin finished her prison stint in December. Giannulli finished his jail sentence in May, with part of it completed at home. Loughlin is still on probation, but she received a Boston federal judge's approval to leave the U.S. to film in Canada in September, the Mercury News reported at the time. "Ms. Loughlin anticipates she will be traveling for about one week" after she was offered a new project, her request to probation officials read.
When Hope Calls originally launched on Hallmark Movies Now, a new streaming service Hallmark Channel set up, in August 2019. The series centers on Lillian Walsh (Morgan Kohan) and Grace Bennett (Jocelyn Hudon), orphaned sisters who were seen in When Calls the Heart: The Great Christmas Blessing (2018). They were separated as children, but reunited as adults and started an orphanage in a Canadian town. RJ Hatanaka, Greg Hovanessian, and Wendy Crewson also star.
Although the second season will air on a Discovery-owned network, GAC Family does have ties to Hallmark. As Deadline notes, the network is headed by CEO Bill Abbott, the former Crown Media Family Networks CEO. When Hope Calls will be GAC Family's first original series, as the network only launched in late September. Abbott acquired Great American County from Discovery in June. He also acquired Ride TV, a network that focused on equestrian sports and will be rebranded GAC Living.
While Loughlin is making a return to acting, Olivia is in the spotlight as a competitor on Dancing With The Stars Season 30. Olivia is paired with pro dancer Valentin Chmerkovskiy and is one of the remaining 10 contestants. On Monday's episode, she and Chmerkovskiy will dance to Måneskin's "Beggin.'"