Bill Abbott, the CEO of Great American Family, says that Candace Cameron Bure doesn't speak for the network when it comes to LGBTQ storytelling — but he's also not committing to putting same-sex couples on screen.
In a new interview with Variety, Abbott said that Bure, who signed on as GAF's chief content officer last year, was expressing her personal views when she controversially said the network would keep "traditional marriage at the core" of its holiday movie slate.
"It's like the disclaimer you see at the end of a movie or a series that says, 'The views reflected here are not necessarily those of the company,'" Abbott said. "Candace has such a high profile that when she speaks, she'll speak on a lot of topics, and she has a wonderful podcast that is fantastic. But when she speaks on that, she's not speaking on behalf of Great American Media."
When asked more pointedly if the network planned or wanted to incorporate LGBTQ stories into its programming, Abbott responded with politician-level vagueness. "I think that's a very good and fair question," he said. "I don't think when we set out to do any type of movie we cast it first. The first thing we think about is a great storyline or great characters or an emotional journey. We're not seeking to do anything or not do anything, and we take every day as it comes."
Steven Ferdman/Getty Images Candice Cameron Bure
He added, "This business is so challenged across the entire industry right now — with the streaming model and with the linear decline and all the other pieces — that we're just looking to celebrate great stories. We don't have an agenda either way. It's not in the faith-and-family playbook to have agendas that are either pro or anti. We want to entertain and inspire and be uplifting and consistently provide an experience that is high quality — that is our most important objective."
LGBTQ programming will "certainly be something to think about," Abbott said, but "I think right now, we're just so focused on profitability, being successful, doing the right thing for our shareholders… We have so many things on our agenda that we need to stay focused on the core part of the business right now and then down the road, as our world grows and changes and becomes different, then we'll see."
Representatives for Bure didn't immediately respond to EW's request for comment on Abbott's remarks.
Bure, a former mainstay of Hallmark's holiday movies, set off a backlash last year when she spoke about GAF's holiday slate and asserted that Hallmark — which in recent years has moved toward increased diversity and inclusion in its programming — is now "a completely different network than when I started" due to leadership changes (including Abbott's exit). "I knew that the people behind Great American Family were Christians that love the Lord and wanted to promote faith programming and good family entertainment," she said.
Hilarie Burton, who has starred in Hallmark titles, slammed Bure as "disgusting" for her remarks, while network staples Lacey Chabert and Jonathan Bennett voiced their support for Hallmark in response to Bure's comments.