Hallmark Channel to Continue The Shunning Saga


These are words I hear over and over throughout the day from director Michael Landon, Jr. as I have the privilege to visit the set of The Confession, Believe Pictures’ second part of The Shunning.

The Saga Continues

As he is showing me around the set, Executive Producer Brian Bird recalls, “We last see Katie Lapp (now played by Katie Leclerc of the ABC Family series Switched at Birth) in The Shunning as she is leaving for parts unknown. The Confession takes place a few months after that last scene in The Shunning. Lapp is in New York, where she is searching for her biological mother, Laura Mayfield Bennett (ER’s Sherry Stringfield), who is also in The Shunning, and trying to obtain a driver’s license.”

The lavish mansion where Lapp finds Bennett is a far cry from anything to which Lapp is accustomed,” continues Bird, writer of The Confession, based on the second novel in a trilogy by Beverly Lewis.

The Story Sticks Close to Its Original

According to Bird, the general plot of the television feature is very similar to the novel, though there are a few minor change and deviations. He says, “You always have to make changes to a certain degree. There’s some condensation of story, and we’ve added some different motivations to storytelling and made some detail changes.”

One of these changes is to the character of Dylan Bennett (played by British actor Adrian Paul), Laura’s husband. In the novel, Bird explains, “he is bent on greed. We created a character the audience can sympathize with, someone desperate the film. He is a manipulator, and he manipulates circumstances so that he will be set to inherit everything.”

The Mansion Is Depicted from Real Life

In real life, the mansion I find myself in today is called Linbrook Hall, and it is owned by Jerry and Linda Neal, who graciously offered their home as a setting for the film. Neal and his wife will also make an appearance in the project.

“You couldn’t recreate this in Hollywood,” Bird whispers to me as set-up is completed on the next scene.

Stringfield stands above a roomful of fundraiser guests at the top of and between an elaborate double Gone with the Wind pair of staircases. She announces to her surprised guests that she gave a baby up for adoption 20 years before, then she introduces her daughter (or so she thinks) to the crowd. The two then make their way down one side of the long stairs to meet Bennett’s husband and to formally greet the guests.

The Confession’s Suspense Grows

There are a couple of unexpected turn of events revealed in The Confession, including a faked death and the introduction of a love triangle.

As night falls and the hours pass, the set is a blur of activity between close-up takes and repeated lines. The last scene of the day is an establishment location shot where guests arrive for valet parking outside the mansion.

It’s a long day’s work, and everyone cheers when Landon shouts, “It’s a wrap. Have a great weekend.”

New Projects Are in the Works

Next for Bird and Landon is a possible series for Hallmark based on the first book in Janette Oke’s Canadian West series called When Calls the Heart, possibly filming this summer. Bird has a project of his own later this year called Captive. It is based on the 2005 Brian Nichols/Ashley Smith hostage situation and courthouse killings in Atlanta. Partners in the project are Ken Wales (Amazing Grace) and Ralph Winter (X-Men).

Though no air date is confirmed for The Confession, it will most likely air sometime in 2013 on the Hallmark Channel.

Cheryl has been a freelance TV/film writer for more than 10 years. Simultaneously, she has worked in PR for Bon Jovi Productions in NYC, PolyGram Records (also in NYC), and Rogers & Cowan Public Relations. Cheryl has published articles at suite101.com, “Sci-Fi Entertainment” magazine, and “Soap Opera Weekly.” She was also a credited researcher for English author Denis Meikle’s JOHNNY DEPP: A KIND OF ILLUSION. Cheryl enjoys writing for the entertainment industry and meeting new people. She is also an animal lover. 

This article originally appeared at suite101.com.