After an extended hiatus amid Lori Loughlin’s college admission scandal, When Calls the Heart returned to Hallmark on Sunday, May 5 to continue on without Loughlin’s main character Abigail Stanton.
The episode was the first of a two night event, marking the first episode since March 10, 2019 and opened by directly addressing the absence of Abigail. As the episode began, the narration said: “We never know how life will turn. It’s been a week since Abigail got word that her mother had taken ill back east. True to her nature, Abigail wasted no time in rushing off to care for her. Abigail is much more than a friend, she’s family. I will miss her and Cody deeply, we all will, but we must get by as best we can. … We all keep Abigail and her family in our prayers in her absence and wish her godspeed. In her absence we must soldier on and we will. We are a community, we are strong, we are Hope Valley.”
In late March, shortly after Loughlin’s involvement in the college admissions scandal came to light, producers of When Calls the Heart released a statement to reveal the show would most certainly go on with or without its main star, but simply needed time to “retool” episodes without Loughlin. “As for the show itself, we know millions of fans are on pins and needles wondering what will happen now. Let us reassure you, When Calls the Heart has always been bigger than the sum of its parts, and it HAS NOT BEEN CANCELED. With the full support of the network, we have gone on a creative hiatus to do some retooling on the remaining Season 6 episodes. That process has already begun. Hope Valley will return to your TV screens as soon as we can bring the episodes to you,” their statement said in part.
Meanwhile, shortly afterward WCTH actress Erin Krakow announced days later that the series had been renewed for a seventh season.
Hallmark channel cut ties with the actress after she and her husband Mossimo Giannulli were charged with conspiracy to commit mail fraud and honest services mail fraud after they allegedly paid $500,000 to have their two daughters Olivia and Isabella admitted to USC as crew team recruits, despite neither one actually being rowers.
Loughlin and her husband have since plead not guilty in the case and turned down a plea deal.