Hallmark Announces 40 New Christmas Movies and “Finding Mr. Christmas” Competition to Name the Next Holiday Hunk

The series marks the network's first reality competition and will be hosted by Jonathan Bennett

<p>Gregg Deguire/Variety via Getty </p> Jonathan Bennett at the 91st Hollywood Christmas Parade on Nov. 26, 2023 in Los Angeles

Gregg Deguire/Variety via Getty

Jonathan Bennett at the 91st Hollywood Christmas Parade on Nov. 26, 2023 in Los Angeles
  • Hallmark announced at the TCA Summer Press Tour on Thursday, July 11, that it will debut 40 new holiday movies later this year

  • The network's Hallmark Movies Now streaming service will be replaced by Hallmark+ in September

  • Jonathan Bennett will host Hallmark’s first reality competition, Finding Mr. Christmas, to name a new holiday hunk

Oh what fun!

Hallmark announced at the TCA Summer Press Tour on Thursday, July 11, that Jonathan Bennett will host the network’s first reality competition series, titled Finding Mr. Christmas. The show will see 10 aspiring actors face off in a variety of challenges — with a Hallmark twist — to be crowned the network’s next leading man and take home the title of Mr. Christmas. The winner will receive a leading role in one of this year’s Countdown to Christmas movies on Hallmark Channel.

Melissa Peterman will serve as the lead judge and special guest judges will join her and Bennett, who is also the show’s co-creator and executive producer, throughout the series.

"There are two types of people in the world. There are people that watch Hallmark movies and then there are liars," Bennett, 43, said at the TCA event. "The idea for Finding Mr. Christmas ... was sparked out of something that's really happening in real life where people want to join the network, they want to be part of the family because they see how successful the brand is and how much people love the brand and they want to be in on the party. And so we thought, why not make a journey that people can watch on TV?"

Bennett said that the competition will include LGBTQ+ contestants because "I'm a Hallmark holiday hunk and I'm pretty freaking gay."

Related: Hallmark's Three Wiser Men and a Boy Teaser Sees Tyler Hynes, Andrew Walker and Paul Campbell Dancing Again

"I call it the Kelly Clarkson effect," Bennett continued. "Why would we fall in love with Kelly Clarkson? Well, we watched her journey on American Idol for the first time to fall in love with her. So here we're actually building our next star because you're going to be able to fall in love with our different contestants and watch their journey along the way."

Hallmark also announced that it will premiere 40 new Christmas movies this year between its flagship and Hallmark Mystery channels, and revealed that a new streaming platform, Hallmark+, will roll out in September. Hallmark+ will feature new and exclusive content — including Finding Mr. Christmas and limited series Holidazed and Mistletoe Murders — membership benefits and rewards, exclusive access to Hallmark experiences and events, and gifts throughout the year. This marks a move away from the network's current streaming service, Hallmark Movies Now.

Hallmark+ will launch with the first movie trilogy told from a male point of view, The Groomsmen, similar to its The Wedding Veil movie series. The Groomsmen will star Bennett, Tyler Hynes and B.J. Britt.

<p>Kim Nunneley/Hallmark Media</p> 'Finding Mr. Christmas' host Jonathan Bennett

Kim Nunneley/Hallmark Media

'Finding Mr. Christmas' host Jonathan Bennett

Finding Mr. Christmas won’t be Peterman’s first time being part of Hallmark’s holiday programming, either. The Reba alum, 53, starred in Haul Out the Holly and its 2023 sequel, Haul Out the Holly: Lit Up, as well as A Gingerbread Romance.

"I think what Hallmark does so well is, you get to know ... you feel like you know the characters, you can relate to them and it feels comforting," Peterman said on the Hallmark Happenings podcast. "You can watch it with everybody in the room, which I think is always a great thing. And it feels good. Like, you finish watching and you just feel better. It took you to a place, it told you a story, which is what I think, what TV can do the ... what TV does best is when it tells you a story and you want to be part ... you want to be in that story, you want to know those people.”

<p>Fred Hayes/Hallmark Media</p> Melissa Peterman (far left) and Lacey Chabert (far right) in 'Haul Out the Holly'

Fred Hayes/Hallmark Media

Melissa Peterman (far left) and Lacey Chabert (far right) in 'Haul Out the Holly'

Peterman’s Haul Out the Holly costar Lacey Chabert has her own upcoming Hallmark series, too. Chabert, 41, will host Celebrations with Lacey Chabert, an unscripted series in which she’ll surprise children, families and adults who have made positive impacts in their communities with once-in-a-lifetime parties. Celebrations with Lacey Chabert will premiere on Hallmark+ later this year.

"I learned as much as I could about the person and their story, and honestly, most of it is live and on the job because you end up talking to their family members or coworkers or people that they've affected their lives for the better and they tell you so much about them and then you find out so much about this person," Chabert said at the July 11 TCA presentation. "And then finally, with the help of these incredible party planners, Lisa, Marissa, we throw them a huge surprise celebration at the end. And then I finally get to meet the person that I've learned so much about in preparation for the party. And it's every time, it's just such a rewarding experience and so joyful and I can't wait for people to watch the show."

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Hallmark stars Wes Brown, Luke Macfarlane and Ashley Williams will host shows on Hallmark+ as well. Brown's Ready, Set, Glow! will follow the actor, 42, as he travels to some of the most impressive and festive holiday light setups to meet the people behind the displays. Macfarlane, 44, will help families renovate a room in their home in Home Is Where the Heart Is, and Williams, 45, will assist parents in setting up their adult children in Small Town Setup.

"Getting to tell these stories of real love — I am a Hallmark actress, but even more than that, I am a wife and a mother," Williams said. "And what brings me the most joy in my life is that so getting people are, they're going to fall in love on our show. I want to officiate weddings, I want to get their babies. So getting to tell a story like that in a way that really, properly represents our audience by bringing them onto the screen is one of the most exciting things that I can even imagine."

Additionally, Hallmark previously announced that it will be filming a docuseries aboard its Hallmark Channel Christmas Cruise when it sets sail out of Miami on the Norwegian Gem in November. The network said in a statement that the show will capture “the magic of the cruise through the eyes of the most passionate fans as they embark on the adventure of a lifetime” to give viewers “an exclusive look at the immersive Christmas-themed experience that only Hallmark can provide, sharing in the joy and unparalleled excitement of the fan community.”

<p>Allister Foster/Hallmark Entertainment/Courtesy Everett Collection</p> Jonathan Bennett in 'The Christmas House'

Allister Foster/Hallmark Entertainment/Courtesy Everett Collection

Jonathan Bennett in 'The Christmas House'

Related: Get Ready to Trade in Your Shades! Hallmark's Christmas in July Is Back with 2 New Original Movies

Along with the cruise, Hallmark and Hallmark Media will be hosting an immersive event this holiday season at the Crown Center in Kansas City, Mo., home of the brand’s headquarters. Every weekend from Nov. 29 through Dec. 23, fans will have the opportunity to meet Hallmark movie stars from their favorite holiday films. Bennett, Brown, Chabert, Hynes, 38, and Williams will be among the special guests participating in the experience, as well as Nikki DeLoachAndie MacDowellRachel BostonAimee Garcia, Pascale Hutton, Benjamin Ayres, Paul Campbell, Taylor Cole, Crystal Lowe, Brendan Penny and Kavan Smith.

In terms of new scripted programming, Hallmark will adapt KJ Dell’Antonia’s New York Times best-selling novel The Chicken Sisters into an eight-episode series starring Genevieve Angelson, Schuyler Fisk, Wendie Malick and Lea Thompson. The show is expected to air in September on Hallmark+.

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