The Hallmark Channel announced the return of When Calls the Heart Wednesday, confirming that the comeback would not be without significant changes. According to Entertainment Weekly, the show will commence with its sixth season in a two-night event, with new episodes airing on May 5 and May 6.
The frontier drama suddenly departed from the airwaves in March when it was pulled hours after the network cut all ties with Lori Loughlin for her involvement in the college admissions cheating scandal.
Hallmark had advised that it was weighing various creative options to remove Loughlin’s character, a central element of the show, from the remainder of the season’s episodes. When Calls the Heart is one of the network’s highest rating programs. The current season’s premiere ranking was the highest-rated in Hallmark’s history, placing it behind only The Walking Dead in weekly ratings. Halting filming altogether was not an option.
The decision was made to remove all scenes containing the actress from the show, by way of some “highly creative editing” and a few reshoots, a source told Entertainment Weekly.
Due to the changes, Season 6 will have one less episode than usual, meaning a total of six are scheduled to air.
Hallmark sets When Calls the Heart return date — with Lori Loughlin edited out https://t.co/LBml0xSF41— Entertainment Weekly (@EW) April 10, 2019
Loughlin and her husband, fashion designer Mossimo Giannulli, are charged with paying out $500,000 to ensure their daughters’ admittance into the University of Southern California by falsifying information that indicated they were new recruits to USC’s crew team. The couple is charged with conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud, as well as honest services mail and wire fraud. The U.S. Attorney’s Office announced on Tuesday that the pair will also face charges of conspiracy to commit money laundering.
A.V. Club reported that Loughlin is apparently shocked by the fallout and “believed in the end she would just get a slap on the wrist.”
The Fuller House actress was a staple of the Hallmark Channel’s programming and starred in Hallmark Christmas movies while also featuring in the Garage Sale Mysteries movie franchise, according to Entertainment Weekly.
Crown Media, which owns Hallmark Channel and Hallmark Movies & Mysteries, released a statement that said the company was “saddened” by the recent news.
“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 including Garage Sale Mysteries, an independent third party production.”
When Calls the Heart also stars Erin Krakow, Jack Wagner, Martin Cummins, and Pascale Hutton.