This past weekend was a rough one for Hallmark networks.
When they received pressure from special interest groups to pull a commercial from wedding-registry site Zola featuring two women kissing at the altar on their wedding day, they succumbed.
The stressful day didn't only affect those at the corporate level of Hallmark and it's entertainment entities, it also affected the people working on the projects at every level.
And while Hallmark ultimately rescinded their decision and announced a new partnership with GLAAD to usher in a new era of programming at their networks, the fallout was still palpable across the organization on Monday.
As you know, I'm a fan of Hallmark's feel-good entertainment and have been covering their series and interviewing the talented people who helm their programming.
Days before the unfortunate situation came to light I had a chance to speak with Carly Pope who will be appearing in the upcoming movie Double Holiday with Kristoffer Polaha.
Carly was drawn to the movie because she felt honored to help introduce the Chanukah celebration traditions to the vast Hallmark audience.
She spoke at great length with me about how important it is for her to be a part of cultural progress and how Double Holiday felt like a great place to start with the network due to the deeper meaning within the movie.
When the situation with Zola arose on Sunday, Carly was very concerned and wanted a way to share her thoughts directly with her fans. Her words, as she crafted them, follow.
I’ve always been as measured as possible when making choices on the projects I say “yes” to. I consider a script's message, of course, and moreso if said message contributes to a dialogue that I’d be proud to be a part of.
When "Double Holiday" came across my path, it was an easy “yes.” Here was a movie that was joyful, cheerful, spirited, and sweet- all the things we’ve come to know and expect from the Hallmark brand and its seasonal offerings- but it was also about Chanukah.
It was a new thing for Hallmark to highlight another holiday. It was changing the mold, breaking new ground for them. It was a move toward MORE representation rather than less that I was happy -- furthermore excited -- to align myself with.
It was a script where Chanukah was central to the story's very conceit. Yes, Christmas abounds, too, but Chanukah is at the movie’s heart. And Nina Weinman, our writer, ensured that our story preserved (and promoted) its heart- first and foremost, above and beyond, inside and out.
My friend shared this saying with me recently that has keenly landed: “We expand and contract according to our courage.” As such, it would be remiss of me to say nothing about the events of this past week surrounding Hallmark’s decision to pull Zola.com’s ads featuring same-sex couples.
I was deeply saddened by this move. Here was a network that I have recently praised for celebrating and unifying our differences in choosing to produce a movie such as "Double Holiday.” Their decision to remove the ads was a discouraging step backward.
I am encouraged to know that Hallmark has since reversed its original decision of pulling Zola’s ads. That’s a good choice.
And, though I wish the choice to pull them in the first place was never made, Hallmark has now made a stronger choice to heal the first. I acknowledge that, I appreciate that, and feel, very least, that they are taking an accountable step forward.
I will be eager to see how this shift to counter divisiveness and discrimination continues to grow at the company. There is space for that to occur and I sincerely hope they continue to keep making the braver choice: toward love instead of fear, toward expansion instead of contraction.
I was proud to say yes to a movie that was designed to offer inclusion.
I am proud of the movie we made, the intention we made it with, and I sincerely hope that “Double Holiday” contributes to the (very) necessary dialogue that keeps us expanding.
Excerpts from our original discussion about Double Holiday and the impact she hopes it has on the Hallmark audience as well as other fun conversational nuggets will appear on TV Fanatic later in the week.
Carissa Pavlica is the managing editor and a staff writer and critic for TV Fanatic. She's a member of the Critic's Choice Association, enjoys mentoring writers, conversing with cats, and passionately discussing the nuances of television and film with anyone who will listen. Follow her on Twitter and email her here at TV Fanatic.