Here's Why Lori Loughlin Really Ditched The Hallmark Channel

Lori Loughlin was one of the faces of the Hallmark Channel until she had an unceremonious exit from the network. Prior to leaving, she was a fixture on "When Calls the Heart" where she played Abigail Stanton for six seasons. "I love everyone I work with. We have a real family. There are many levels to it that make you happy," she told Us Weekly in February 2018. The actor was one of the most popular names on the network, and her 2018 holiday movie "Homegrown Christmas" was a massive success. Shortly after, the Season 6 premiere of "When Calls the Heart" brought in a whopping 2.5 million viewers. Unfortunately for Loughlin that all came crashing down when she was implicated in a major controversy.

In March 2019, Loughlin was axed from Hallmark for her involvement in the college admissions scandal. She and husband Mossimo Giannulli were accused of giving $500,000 to the University of Southern California so the college would list their daughters as part of the crew team, to help them gain admittance to the school.

The network's parent company, Crown Media Family Network, announced they were cutting ties with Loughlin. "We are no longer working with Lori Loughlin and have stopped development of all productions that air," they said in a statement obtained by CBS News. Her character was written out of Season 6 of "When Calls the Heart." Despite the controversy, Loughlin returned to family-oriented acting after serving two months in prison.

Lori Loughlin joined a rival network

The college admissions scandal marked the end of Lori Loughlin's time at the Hallmark Channel, but it was not the end of her involvement with the network's programming. After serving jail time, Loughlin reprised her role as Abigail Stanton in the "When Calls the Heart" spinoff titled "When Hope Calls." The series had moved from Hallmark to Great American Family and tapped the actor to join the spinoff for Season 2 in September 2021. This was thanks in large part to a friend Loughlin had made while at her old network.

Bill Abbott, the CEO of Great American Media, had worked with Loughlin while the two were at Hallmark. They developed a close relationship, and when she was ready to return to acting, Abbott welcomed her with open arms. "She's America's sweetheart, regardless of whatever happened," the GAF honcho told Variety in September 2022. "At the end of the day, she represents all that is positive about entertainment," Abbott added while announcing that Loughlin would be starring in the network's holiday film "Fall Into Winter."

Once Loughlin had made a splash on the competing network there was talk about her rejoining "When Calls the Heart" on Hallmark. "Our attitude always has been ... what better place for second chances than Hope Valley," series creator Brian Bird told People in October 2023. Hallmark, however, denied that they were bringing the actor back. Loughlin later took a role that poked fun at her real-life mistakes.

Lori Loughlin's hilarious parody of herself

On the heels of her work on Great American Family, Lori Loughlin's comeback seemed to be complete when she grabbed a part on "Curb Your Enthusiasm." The actor played a fictionalized version of herself in an episode of Season 12 of the HBO series that seemingly addressed her college admission controversy. In the episode, Loughlin parodied her tribulations, as she was banned from a golf club due to her checkered past. Larry David vouches for the reformed Loughlin so she can join the club, but learns that she will win by any means necessary and that includes cheating and bribing to get whatever she wants.

The writers on "Curb" had the idea for Loughlin before she signed on to the show. "But it's not going to be funny with some sort of thinly veiled surrogate. It only works if we get Lori," Jeff Schaffer, a producer on the HBO series, told The Hollywood Reporter in March 2024. At first, they were worried that the "Garage Sale Mystery" star would balk at making fun of her foibles. "She was so great. Everything we threw at her, she was game to do," Schaffer said.

Being in on the joke about her past mistakes made fans appreciate her appearance. "Lori Loughlin Leaning Into The Joke On 'Curb Your Enthusiasm' Was Absolutely Incredible," one viewer tweeted after the episode aired. "Loved Lori Loughlin on Curb last night lol It was perfect," another added.