Crown Media Family Networks Chief Executive Officer Bill Abbott, who oversees Hallmark Channel, is leaving that role. His departure comes in the wake of Hallmark’s handling of a commercial featuring a same-sex wedding, which was pulled from the channel and then reinstated late last year.
“After 11 years, Bill Abbott, president and CEO of Crown Media is leaving the company,” President and CEO of Hallmark Cards, Inc. Mike Perry said via a press release.”I want to thank Bill for his many years of success and contributions to Crown Media and wish him continued success.”
No mention was made of the spot in question, which was an advertisement for the wedding-planning website Zola; the ad showed a lesbian wedding. The commercial was part of a larger campaign that featured both same-sex and heterosexual couples. Hallmark removed the lesbian-themed ads in December but continued to air others that showcased a bride and groom.
One Million Moms, a conservative group, led initial complaints to the network, while a similar group called Lifesite created a petition that amassed thousands of signatures. In defending its decision to yank Zola’s spot, the network said at the time that “The debate surrounding these commercials on all sides was distracting from the purpose of our network, which is to provide entertainment value.”
Hallmark’s move instantly engendered backlash from former Hallmark movie stars Hilarie Burton and Bridget Regan denouncing the decision, along with other celebrities like Ellen DeGeneres, presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg and Queer Eye star Antoni Porowski.
A day after the ads were taken off Hallmark air, the channel reversed its decision. In an apology, Perry called the choice “wrong” and said that “we are truly sorry for the hurt and disappointment this has caused.” He added that Hallmark would work with GLAAD “to better represent the LGBTQ population across our portfolio of brands.”