The Lost Valentine
The Lost Valentine, a collaborative effort between Hallmark Hall of Fame and Paulist Productions, premiered Sunday January 30, 2011 on CBS television. Not only was Paulist Productions delighted to be in association with a quality company like Hallmark, with a history of more than 60 years of award winning programming, but we were equally excited to have such high profile talent as Ghost Whisperer's Jennifer Love Hewitt, and former Golden Girl and media superstar Betty White in the movie.
The Lost Valentine was a huge critical and ratings success. Television critics hailed the movie as an excellent example of television viewing for the whole family and universally lauded Betty White’s powerful performance as the wife who never lost hope finding her lost husband, a WWII Navy pilot. The Lost Valentine was number three in the weekly prime time ratings, and was the highest rated Hallmark Hall of Fame presentation in four years. Reflecting on the amazing response, Paulist Father Eric Andrews, co-producer and president of Paulist Productions called the production “television’s equivalent of The Blind Side.”
Based on the novel by James Michael Pratt, The Lost Valentine is a story of faith, hope, courage, and most of all never-ending love. Dramatizing these ideals in a multigenerational narrative that travels from the Philippine jungles of WWII to the urban landscape of a present day American city, this film has made Paulist Productions and its mission accessible to a wide ranging, diverse and modern audience.
Barbara M. Gangi, then VP of Production and Development for Paulist Productions and Producer of The Lost Valentine, brought this project to Hallmark Hall of Fame and saw it through to air on CBS. During the 25-day production schedule, Barbara spoke at length with Betty (she doesn't want to be called Miss White) about why she decided to do this film. Betty told her agent not to bring her any more films for a while because of her busy schedule. However, when she read The Lost Valentine, she fell in love and couldn't resist. It has great personal meaning for her.
According to Barbara, "Every day on set Betty was filled with energy and enthusiasm. Her performance was emotional and heartfelt. She had us alternately crying and laughing at every turn. Off camera, she was warm, friendly and hysterically funny. When Jennifer and Betty were together, they were a great team. They joked and played off each other constantly. Over all, this was an incredible team, led by a talented, creative director Darnell Martin. It all came together from the first day of shooting…magic happened and we all fell in love."
Contributing to the success was the work of Lisa Dolab. With her years of experience reaching out to faith based communities, she helped us raise awareness of the program to people of faith across the country and use this film as an opportunity to make the mission of Paulist Productions as much a part of the public consciousness as it has ever been.
After years of development and pre-production with Hallmark and coproducers Ken Atchity, Chi-Li Wong and Maryann Ridini Spencer, there was much joy seeing this film come to fruition. Viewers of the movie have asked for more quality projects like The Lost Valentine. Paulist Productions looks forward to future collaborations with the Hallmark Hall of Fame and others to make that happen.