By RODNEY HO/ email@example.com, originally filed Sunday, August 14, 2016
I don’t normally write much about the Hallmark Channel. But I interviewed Rachael Leigh Cook – who lives part time in Atlanta because her husband in on “The Originals” – earlier this week for her Hallmark movie “Summer Love.” And a man who now lives in Gainesville John Tinker is an executive producer and show runner of the network’s newest scripted series “Chesapeake Shores,” which debuts Sunday night at 9 (August 14.)
The formula for the series sounds like many Hallmark movies: a busy career woman returns to her hometown (a fictional Chesapeake, Maryland, shot in Vancouver) to only find out her sister’s inn is close to foreclosure. She sticks around and reconnects with the man she left 10 years earlier.
Shocking? No. But Hallmark isn’t about challenging viewers. It’s about comforting their audience, which tends to skew older, seeking a gentler, kinder type of drama than isn’t available on HBO, AMC or FX.
Tinker – who co-created early 2000s CBS drama “Judging Amy” and wrote for “St. Elsewhere” – said he isn’t sure any other networks would be able to create a family drama such as “Chesapeake Shores” in 2016. “Some might call it anachronistic or unfairly call it a soft show but it’s something I’m drawn to,” Tinker said. “I’m drawn to characters. I’m drawn to complexity. That’s what I like to write.”
He said Hallmark “has been remarkably supportive and nurturing when it comes to the show. At least for the first season we are not necessarily plot driven. We’re emotion driven. This family has come back for the summer between July and Labor Day for various reasons and found a place they’ve forgotten where they can heal and draw closer to one another.”
There is a best-selling book series by Sherryl Woods of the same name using the same characters but Tinker said the series changes the storylines. “They’re quite different,” Tinker said. “Some don’t have babies. Some don’t get married. What we do have in common is Sherryl Woods created a place of beauty and peace. There is way less noise than the current cacophony of the world. It’s a place where you can pay attention to your head and heart. It’s where you find out what your priorities are.”
Well regarded actors Diane Ladd and Treat Williams play the lead character’s parents. “With veterans like that, when you need them, they’re always on the set. They’re right there. There’s no lingering, no cell phoning, no dawdling. They know what it means to do the work. They understand the work. They understand the work for their craft and the art of the craft.”
He grew up within five miles of Williams, coincidentally, in Connecticut. And Ladd is from Mississippi. “I love hearing what she has to say about the South,” he said.
Tinker really likes Gainesville, GA, where he moved four years ago because of his wife, author Ronda Rich. “Compared to Chesapeake Shores, it’s a bustling metropolis. I love it. I see my family all the time. I go for the company and community and the ultimate family feeling.”
He said he and Rich met after he was hired to write a movie about a NASCAR driver she had dated. “She’s done me a huge favor bringing me here,” he said.
After living in Los Angeles for so long, he enjoys the slower rhythms of the south. “People here take their time telling stories,” he said. “If you take the time to listen to that story and they way they’re telling it, you can learn so much more than what they’re saying on the surface.”
“Chesapeake Shores,” 9 p.m. Sundays, Hallmark