It’s safe to say that Lori Loughlin has enjoyed a relatively soft landing since her release from federal prison in December 2020, following her conviction for her role in the Varsity Blues college admissions scandal.
Unlike other former federal prisoners, who struggle to find housing and face high rates of unemployment, the former “Full House” actor was able to return to not one, but two, luxury homes in Los Angeles and Palm Springs, and take vacations to posh resorts in Mexico.
And on Thursday, it was announced that Loughlin has landed a new starring role in an uplifting family TV movie, with her network boss saying, “she’s America’s sweetheart, regardless of whatever happened.”
Loughlin, who has not led a TV film for Hallmark or any other network since 2018, will star in “Fall Into Winter,” a romantic comedy airing in January for the Great American Family network. Bill Abbott, the CEO for the network, previously worked with Loughlin when he was CEO of Hallmark Media, and the actor starred in Hallmark’s “Garage Sale Mystery” films and its show, “When Calls the Heart.”
In announcing the new movie, Abbott hailed Loughlin in a press release as “a genre-defining star” whom he has had “the honor to call a close friend and collaborator for more than 15 years.” He also said, “We have a shared vision for creating meaningful and memorable movies that resonate with our passionate fans, and I look forward to welcoming her back to Great American Family to anchor our 2023 winter programming slate.”
Hallmark cut ties with Loughlin after she and her husband, Mossimo Giannulli, were arrested in 2019 and subsequently charged and convicted for their part in the nationwide college admissions scandal. Loughlin and Giannulli paid $500,000 in bribes to the scheme’s mastermind, William “Rick” Singer, to get their underqualified daughters, Olivia Jade and Isabella, fraudulently admitted to the University of Southern California on the pretense of being talented crew team athletes.
After spending more than a year protesting their innocence and claiming they were the victims of malicious prosecution, Loughlin and Giannulli pled guilty in 2020. Loughlin apologized to the court for her “awful decision” to help her daughters gain an “unfair advantage” in the competitive college admissions process.
Before sentencing Loughlin to two months in federal prison, which she served at the Dublin Federal Correctional Institution, Judge Nathaniel Gorton castigated the actor for her “avarice” and for not being satisfied with her already “charmed life.”
Despite’s Gorton’s view of Loughlin, Abbott praised his friend. In an interview with Variety, Abbott said “at the end of the day, she represents all that is positive about entertainment.” He also argued that she’s had a “stellar career — not only on screen, but also the way she’s conducted herself personally, in terms of being someone who has a track record of doing the right thing in the world at large, aside from whatever happened.”
Loughlin’s “track record,” of course, also includes her time being prosecuted by the U.S. Justice Department, but Abbott said, “I don’t know the details.” He also asserted that Loughlin is “beloved and for good reason. We’re very proud of our association with her and we want to make her part of the fabric.”
Abbott previously gave Loughlin a break by letting her appear in two episodes of the Great America Family show, “When Hope Calls,” a spinoff series of Hallmark’s “When Calls the Heart.” Loughlin was able to reprise her role as Abigail Stanton, which originated on “When Calls the Heart.”
By working with the Great American Family network, Loughlin will reunite with her “Full House” and “Fuller House” co-stars Candace Cameron Bure and Andrea Barber. The actors are both set for Christmas films this year for the network.
In “Fall Into Winter,” Loughlin will portray Keely, a woman shocked when her brother sells his half of their family’s upscale candy shop to her nemesis, a guy named Brooks, according to a description of the film. “As she’s forced to find a way to connect with him, the pair realize they’re both guarded for different reasons.”