TV time in Telluride

Looking down into the town of Telluride from a trail near the gondola station at the mountain village.

State economic development officials are patting themselves on the back for landing a new television series that will be filmed in Telluride.

The series, the Hallmark Channel’s “When Calls the Heart,” will mark the first time a TV series has been filmed in the resort town.

Based on the bestselling book of the same name by author Janette Oke, the series tells the story of a young schoolteacher more used to the high society life of the East who comes to the American West in the early part of the 20th century.

But for the folks in the Colorado Office of Film and Television, the Telluride Film Commission and the Colorado Tourism Office, the real story is what it will mean for the region and the state.

It is expected to generate up to 200 production jobs and about $15 million in economic impact.

Donald Zuckerman, the state’s film commissioner, said getting the series’ producers to choose Colorado to film was due to added tax incentives approved by the Colorado Legislature.

“While we can’t compete side-by-side with other state incentive programs, we continue to see the benefits of our modest incentive package coupled with Colorado’s talented workforce and extraordinary scenery,” Zuckerman said.

The film office negotiated the deal with the Motion Picture Association of America, Believe Pictures and two producers of the Hallmark Channel Original Primetime Series.

The pilot to the series has already been filmed and is set to air on the Hallmark Channel in October.

The series will follow, with its first installment starting in January.

The story centers on Elizabeth Thatcher, played by actress Erin Krakow, as a high society girl who comes to a western frontier coal town to teach. Krakow is known for her work on Lifetime’s “Army Wives,” and ABC’s “Castle.”

The show also stars three-time Emmy winner Jean Smart of “Designing Women” fame, and Lori Loughlin, who stared in “Full House” and “90210.”

It will air on Hallmark’s 24-hour basic cable network, which boasts a national audience of 87 million subscribers.

It is the second original prime time series to be produced by the network. The first is “Cedar Cove,” starring Andie MacDowell, which is scheduled to debut next month.

The Hallmark Channel is perhaps best known for airing reruns of such popular TV series as, “The Golden Girls,” “Frasier,” and “I Love Lucy.” The channel is owned by the Los Angeles, California-based Crown Media Holdings, a subsidiary of Hallmark Cards.


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