Hallmark Exec Walks Out After Gay Ad Drama

Screenshot via Zola

Hallmark has lost an executive over the Zola controversy.

During the holiday season, Hallmark found itself the subject of controversy and pushback over a single commercial. In partnership with wedding planning company Zola, the Hallmark channel released ads promoting marriage and the use of Zola. One such add centered around a lesbian couple. Initially, it was just One Million Moms raising complaints and a petition against the ad. But after the Hallmark Channel pulled the ad, and not the similar straight ones, the company gained the ire of Zola and the internet.

Now, it appears that the chief executive of Crown Media Family Networks, and the man directly responsible for overseeing the Hallmark Channel, has stepped away from the position. According to the Hollywood Reporter, former executive Bill Abbott has resigned from his position. A replacement for Abbott has yet to be determined.

“After 11 years, Bill Abbott, president and CEO of Crown Media, is leaving the company,” said Mike Perry, president and CEO of Hallmark Cards, Inc. “I want to thank Bill for his many years of success and contributions to Crown Media and wish him continued success.”

This announcement comes after the Hallmark Channel’s almost incendiary holiday season, which is the most important part of the year for the company’s most financially important sector. Frankly, Abbott did not handle the channel and its controversy well. In fact, Hallmark’s official statement after reinstating the Zola commercial, saying that the company was “sorry for the hurt and disappointment this has caused,” came from Perry and not Abbott.

Meanwhile, Abbott was continuously adamant that the channel could not handle creating diverse and complex stories (beyond the 100 movies it makes every year).

“The reality is when you produce as much content as we do — which is 100 movies a year, five original primetime series, a daytime lifestyle show that’s two hours a day, 52 weeks a year, basically live-to-tape … and countless specials — there’s only so much time in the day,” the exec said when asked in November about how much he’s advocated for varying Hallmark’s content. “And while we want to put on and we believe that we do create content that is beloved really throughout the country, it’s not always the easiest process to make every situation fit the mold for every individual who even wants to work with us or wants to watch a certain segment of the audience on our channel.”

Sources: Deseret News, the Hollywood Reporter

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