In today’s competitive entertainment industry, what does it take to create popular, family-friendly content? MediaVillage Managing Editor, E.B. Moss, spoke to two big Crown Media stars - Danica McKellar, first known from her days as Winnie on The Wonder Years and later The West Wing, and Candace Cameron Bure, well-known for her role as D.J. Tanner on Full House, and currently Fuller House on Netflix, who discussed why the Hallmark brands resonate with each of them and how they’re lending their star power — and brain power — to causes and organizations. These show notes have been edited for clarity and length.
Moss: Danica, thanks for doing the Insider Insights podcast with us.
McKellar: My pleasure. I told Hallmark ‘anything you need, anything I can do’: there’s nothing else like their people and their programming -- wholesome entertainment that just makes you feel good. I know because I get all the emails and messages: people just love celebrating the seasons because Hallmark Channel does it so well...[Like my] most recent movie Very, Very Valentine, with Cameron Mathison.
Moss: You’ve done seven Hallmark movies so far, and you also Executive Produced Campfire Kiss. (I know because our MediaVillage journalist, Steve Gidlow, once called your co-star, Paul Greene, the Cary Grant of Hallmark Channel!)
McKellar: Right. I played a math teacher. Probably no surprise to people that that would be the one I Exec Produce.
Moss: We should explain about your background as a mathematician...
McKellar: I got a degree in mathematics but then I missed acting. When I started on The West Wing I kept a website where I would answer people's math questions. Back in 2000 I got the opportunity to speak in front of Congress about the importance of women and mathematics ... I wrote my first math book in 2007 called “Math Doesn't Suck”, aimed at middle school girls. … So, it’s a math book but really a self-esteem building book helping girls embrace their smarts.... Now I've got the website, McKellar Math with books for younger kids as well.
Last year, I had the opportunity to put a lot of this into Campfire Kiss, where my co-star's daughter in the movie was struggling in math, and I help her see how cool it is to be a smart girl. It was my dream come true to be able to get out my message about girls and math within a Hallmark movie.
Moss: ...What do you think about how people are consuming video and television these days?
McKellar: There are so many options depending on the person's lifestyle and what's most convenient! Every now and then my husband and I will watch Grace and Frankie on Netflix. It's also fun to see all my friends - Lacey Chabert and Candace Cameron Bure, Allison Sweeney, Kellie Martin - on Hallmark, especially at Christmas time....
Candace Cameron Bure
Moss: Candace, after some 20 movies with Hallmark do you have a favorite aspect or movie?
Cameron Bure: I really enjoy producing. I've always had input in all the scripts that I've done, but also brought some to the table. One of my movies, Just the Way You Are, was loosely based on my own life and from my book, “Balancing It All”. That, actually, is my all-time favorite movie that I was able to do with Hallmark Channel.
Moss: Why was Hallmark the right environment for that?
Cameron Bure: Hallmark movies always have a romantic element. ...But I’ve done so many it’s important to do ones that feel a little different but still stay within the themes of what their movies represent. So, I wanted to show a marriage that wasn't unhappy, but one that just kind of lost sight of one another because of living life and kids… I wanted to tell that story of rekindling a marriage.
Moss: In addition to the movies, and Fuller House, you’ve still found time for your cause related work. Can you speak to some of the organizations you get behind, like skip1.org?
Cameron Bure: Thanks for bringing up Skip1. We feed people all over the world and also build kitchens in schools in impoverished countries ...and the homeless community in the United States. The whole concept is that it's pretty easy for those of us that have much to skip something today and feed someone instead. Could you skip a carwash or even your lunch and donate that amount so someone else can eat? I also am very passionate about Compassion International which is more of a sponsorship program for children in impoverished countries.
Moss: You’re known as a person of deep faith…Through that lens, does appearing on Hallmark networks have a different sense of purpose for you?
Cameron Bure: Everything that I've done I've carefully chosen -- which networks and what organizations I want to be a part of -- because I am deeply rooted in my faith. That's why I partnered with Hallmark Channel; they represent the values that I've been consistent with in my life. I want people to know that if they see my name … they know it's going to be honest and truthful and it comes with values and family values.