“The thought that my work could be used to deliberately discriminate against anyone horrifies and infuriates me.”
Great American Family may have gained a new chief creative officer and a new focus, but it’s losing one of its stars in the process. Neal Bledsoe has announced his exit following Candace Cameron Bure’s “traditional family” comments.
The “Full House” star had garnered controversy when she said in a profile interview with The Wall Street Journal that she was departing Hallmark and partnering with GAF as both a star and chief creative officer, promising the network would “keep traditional marriage at the core.”
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Actor Neil Bledsoe, who starred in GAF’s 2021 film “The Winter Palace” and “Christmas at the Drive-In” for 2022, announced in a lengthy statement to Variety Monday that he was severing ties over Bure’s comments and the perceived direction she seemed to be indicating.
“As an artist, I yearn to be proud of the work I create,” Bledsoe told the outlet. “But, the thought that my work could be used to deliberately discriminate against anyone horrifies and infuriates me.”
“I hope GAF will change, but until everyone can be represented in their films with pride, my choice is clear,” his statement continued. “I look forward to working with creators who put no limits on the stories we tell and follow through on their message of values with open arms.”
Hallmark Channel has begun expanding its holiday offerings to include same-sex couples and relationships after years of criticism, with the network’s first same-sex kiss happening in the 2020 film “The Christmas House.”
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This year features their first film with a same-sex couple as the leads. “The Holiday Sitter” stars Jonathan Bennett and George Krissa and lands on Hallmark Channel December 11.
“As someone who struggled as a young man with our society’s extremely narrow definition of masculinity, it was [the LGBTQIA+] community that provided me with refuge and a guiding light when my life felt lost,” Bledsoe said in his statement.
“If I cannot stand up for that community in their time of need, my debt to them means nothing,” he continued. “So, I want to be very clear: my support for the LGBTQIA+ community is unconditional — nothing is worth my silence or their ability to live and love freely in a world that we are lucky enough to share with them.”
In response to the controversy that erupted after her “traditional marriage” comments, Bure took to her instagram to write, “I have great love and affection for all people. It absolutely breaks my heart that anyone would ever think I intentionally would want to offend and hurt anyone.”
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“It saddens me that the media is often seeking to divide us, even around a subject as comforting and merry as Christmas movies,” she continued. “But, given the toxic climate in our culture right now, I shouldn’t be surprised. We need Christmas more than ever.”
Bill Abbott, chief executive of Great American Media — who used to head Hallmark — noted in the initial WSJ article, “it’s certainly the year 2022, so we’re aware of the trends. There’s no whiteboard that says, ‘Yes, this’ or ‘No, we’ll never go here.'”
“One Tree Hill” alum Burton — who starred in a ton of Hallmark holiday movies herself before taking her talents to Lifetime — was quick to call them both out.
“Bigot. I don’t remember Jesus liking hypocrites like Candy,” wrote Burton. “But sure. Make your money, honey. You ride that prejudice wave all the way to the bank.”
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“Now they’re just openly admitting their bigotry. I called this s— out years ago when Abbott was at Hallmark,” she continued. “Glad they dumped him. Being LGBTQ isn’t a ‘trend.’ That guy and his network are disgustig [sic]. You too Candy. There is nothing untraditional about same-sex couples.”
JoJo Siwa, who recently quashed a public beef with Bure over a years-old photo controversy, weighed in as well, calling her comments “rude and hurtful.” Siwa is a member of the LGBTQIA+ community.
“Honestly, I can’t believe after everything that went down just a few months ago, that she would not only create a movie with intention of excluding LGBTQIA+, but then also talk about it in the press,” Siwa, 19, captioned a photo of a news article about Bure’s comments.
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Meanwhile, Bure’s “Full House” and “Fuller House” co-star, Jodie Sweetin, expressed her support for Siwa after she slammed Bure. Sweetin, 40, commented on Siwa’s instagram post, writing, “You know I love you .”