The producers of Lori Loughlin's Hallmark Channel series "When Calls the Heart" say the show will continue without the actress, a Hauppauge native who was among the dozens charged by federal prosecutors last week in a college-admissions bribery scandal.
"#Hearties, thank you for your love, support, and patience these last several days as we have all been preoccupied with the news about Lori Loughlin and her family, and the decisions our colleagues at the Hallmark Channel USA needed to make," Brian Bird, 61, an executive producer of the Canadian frontier drama, posted on the show's Instagram page following Hallmark's decision to drop Loughlin, 54, from the network's programming.
"As you can imagine," he continued, "everyone involved with 'When Calls the Heart' was surprised by these developments, so we hope you can forgive us for initially staying silent while we sorted through how to respond."
Bird assured the show's fans that, " 'When Calls the Heart' has always been bigger than the sum of its parts, and it HAS NOT BEEN CANCELED. With the full support of the network, we have gone on a creative hiatus to do some retooling on the remaining Season 6 episodes. That process has already begun. Hope Valley” — the small town in early 20th-century Canada where Loughlin's café-owner character, Abigail Stanton, is mayor — "will return to your TV screens as soon as we can bring the episodes to you."
Season six premiered Feb. 24, and three episodes have aired. The episode scheduled for March 17, "Heart of a Mountie," was replaced by a movie.
On his own Twitter page, Bird addressed trollish claims that the producers had deliberately derailed the series. " 'Being played' implies this challenge was intentional," he responded to one accusatory commenter. "That, of course, could not be further from the truth. So we hope you will still be there when Hope Valley returns, but if not, God bless." To another who had written, "I'm disappointed that you punched the viewers by not showing #WCTH," Bird said, "There was no punch. It was announced Friday the show would not be on until … we are ready to relaunch the episodes."