Strong Women and More on the Hallmark Channel

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Naomi Judd in Nearlyweds

Naomi Judd in Nearlyweds

Strong women can be pretty and funny too, and there’s an original movie that’s a great showcase for those gals. Nearlyweds has its world premiere Saturday, January 12 on the Hallmark Channel, based in Studio City. It’s just the first in an incredible lineup of the family-friendly network’s programming for 2013.

The romantic comedy follows three young ladies who are best friends and get married around the same time to the men of their dreams — or so they hoped. It gets interesting after the honeymoon is over and they all discover that a paperwork error has annulled their marriages. Do they still want to keep their mates for better or worse?

Danielle Panabaker (The Shunning), Jessica Parker Kennedy (The Secret Circle) and Britt Irvin (The Vow) star as the new brides who reassess their relationships. Nearlyweds also stars Ryan Kennedy (Hannah’s Law), Travis Milne (Rookie Blue), and Steve Bacic (Big Love).

Naomi Judd gets to play her role as a meddlesome mother-in-law (opposite Panabaker) with wicked delight. This is a wonderful homecoming for Judd, who includes hosting Hallmark’s Naomi’s New Morning among her credits. The Grammy-winning country music superstar is also a bestselling author.

When we chatted, I learned that so much in Naomi’s life has shown her to be a woman of exceptional fortitude. So I had to ask her thoughts – what makes a woman strong?

Naomi told me, “I think it has to do with self awareness that comes to us through our personal ‘ground zeroes.’ Those moments strip us down and cause us to make the decisions about our beliefs and our values. I think that’s the first step to being strong. Your beliefs are based on your earliest experiences and your earliest memories. For me that was realizing early on that my mother was a survivor. She had a hideous fractured family filled with unimaginable situations. So I look at my own mother, and I think that there may be a ‘survivor gene’ which I may have inherited.”

But Naomi said everyone gets to make choices, “and it was huge to realize that. You get to choose your values. I started by understanding that you have to get rid of what doesn’t work for you. I like to think of how Michelangelo described the creation of his famous statue of David. He said, ‘I kept removing what wasn’t David from the sculpture.’ And I kept getting rid of what wasn’t really me. I’ve survived domestic violence. I got my butt off welfare. I raised my kids alone. I’m a survivor of Hep C, a medical miracle. And I made my preposterous dream of making my mark in Country Music a reality.” Now that’s a strong woman. She’s also pretty and funny.

Following on the heels of Nearlyweds, another family-friendly movie is coming with The Sweeter Side of Life premiering Jan. 19 on Hallmark. It stars Kathryn Morris (of Cold Case fame) as a woman who lives the “perfect life” of a socialite until her husband dumps her. Helping her father at his struggling New Jersey bakery gives her comfort and a new opportunity to create a better life.

Life in the Wild West returns with Luke Perry in Goodnight for Justice: Queen of Hearts, airing Jan. 26. It’s the third installment of Perry’s Hallmark film series that has him reprising his role as circuit judge John Goodnight, an honorable man on a mission to leave a trail of justice in his wake. Ricky Schroder (NYPD Blue) and Katharine Isabelle (Endgame) costar.

Perry has a fondness for the Western genre and said, “In the Old West the judges were empowered to disregard all the nonsense from the lawyers who tried to obfuscate things. The judges got to cut through all that stuff and say ‘He’s guilty. He’s not. And this is how it’s going to be.’ The character is responsible for being judge, jury, and executioner. That really appeals to me. I believe in justice, and I think it’s important to keep it simple. If something is wrong, you simply do what you can to try and make it right.” It’s a strong concept from Perry, the producer-creator of the ratings-grabbing Goodnight for Justice movies.

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