Rich Fury, Invision
FILE - In this April 10, 2016 file photo, actress Lori Loughlin arrives at the TV Land Icon Awards in Santa Monica, Calif. Felicity Huffman and Loughlin have worked steadily as respected actresses and remained recognizable if not-quite-A-list names for decades. Neither has ever had a whiff of criminality or scandal tied to their name until both were charged with fraud and conspiracy Tuesday, March 12, 2019, along with dozens of others in a scheme that according to federal prosecutors saw wealthy parents pay bribes to get their children into some of the nation’s top colleges. (Photo by Rich Fury/Invision/AP, File)

SALT LAKE CITY — “When Calls the Heart” remains in a creative hiatus following the college admissions scandal, but that hasn’t stopped people from theorizing about what happens next.

  • The Hallmark Channel announced last week that “When Calls the Heart” would go on a temporary creative hiatus in the wake of one of its stars, Lori Loughlin, being named among dozens of other parents who reportedly bribed their child’s way into colleges.
  • Loughlin and her husband, Mossimo Giannulli, allegedly paid $500,000 so that their children could be crew recruits for the University of Southern California — even though the two never competed in crew before, according to Entertainment Weekly.
  • The Hallmark Channel cut ties with Loughlin in the immediate aftermath of the charges. “When Calls the Heart” won’t be canceled, but producers will figure out its new creative direction, according to Deadline. Hallmark confirmed in an Instagram post that the show would return.
  • “When Calls the Heart” cast members reacted to the news as well, promising fans that they will return to the show.

Yes, but: There’s something else to consider here. Hallmark plans to release its sixth season. But TV Line reports that there has been no word from Hallmark on whether or not the show will be renewed past its sixth season, which has already been shot.

  • “It also has not been renewed — not yet anyway. Hallmark is not commenting on what impact Loughlin’s departure will have on the show beyond the already-shot sixth season,” TV Line reports.

Season six ratings: “When Calls the Heart” averages a 0.36 rating in the 18-to-49 demographic with 2.89 million viewers. That’s 29 and 19 percent higher, respectively, from “When Calls the Heart” season five.

So what happens next?: Well, Rachael Ellenbogen of the International Business Times put together a list of possible replacements for Loughlin’s character Abigail, who is the mayor of the show’s town, Hope Valley. The article assumes that Loughlin’s character will be recast and not written off the entire show.

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  • The list includes such names as Andie MacDowell (who headlined Hallmark’s first original show “Cedar Cove”), Kimberly Williams-Paisley (who appeared in the Hallmark Christmas film “The Christmas Train”) and Kelly Rutherford (who currently stars on the “Pretty Little Liars” spin-off show “The Perfectionists”).
  • Daphne Zuniga, who appeared on “One Tree Hill,” has already made a claim for the spot. She quote-tweeted a news story about Loughlin and captioned it with a hand-raised emoji and the words, “Hi @HallmarkChannel,” a sign that she is interested in the role.