The Hallmark Channel cut ties Thursday with favored star Lori Loughlin, a day after her arrest in a college admissions scam put the family-friendly network and extended Hallmark brand in uncomfortable proximity to a national scandal. "We are saddened by the recent allegations surrounding the college admissions process," Hallmark Cards Inc., parent company of the Crown Media Family Networks group that includes the Hallmark Channel, said in a statement. "We are no longer working with Lori Loughlin" and have stopped development of all productions with the actress for Crown Media channels, the statement said, per the AP. The company initially took a wait-and-see approach after a federal investigation of the scam involving more than 30 parents, many of them prominent, was revealed Tuesday. Loughlin and her husband, fashion designer Mossimo Giannulli, are accused of paying bribes to gain their daughters' college admissions.
Loughlin's career and the Hallmark Channel were deeply intertwined. She's been among its so-called "Christmas queens" who topline a slate of popular holiday movies, and also starred in the ongoing "Garage Sale Mysteries" movies and the series When Calls the Heart. "It's a feel-good, family values-type channel, and obviously scandal is the opposite of that," said Atlanta-based market strategist Laura Ries. There was more at stake than image. When Calls the Heart tapes in Canada, and a judge ordered Loughlin's passport to be surrendered in December after grudgingly allowing her to cross the border for work until then. Loughlin has not yet entered a plea in the case, and her attorney declined comment Wednesday after her first appearance in a Los Angeles federal court. Loughlin's publicist declined comment Thursday on Hallmark's decision to drop her. (The scandal came to light thanks to an unexpected tip.)