Interview: Genie Francis of “Notes from the Heart Healer”

Posted on May 7, 2012 at 8:00 am

Genie Francis co-stars in “Notes from the Heart Healer,” the third installment in Hallmark’s popular series about the mid-life romance of an advice columnist named Peyton and a sportswriter named King.  It will be on the Hallmark Channel Saturday May 12 8/7c & 10/9c and Sunday May 13 12/11c & 8/7c.  Francis became an international phenomenon as Laura on “General Hospital.”  The Luke and Laura wedding was the highest rated soap episodes in history with 30 million viewers.  I talked with her about her chemistry with co-star Ted McGinley, working with directors, and why audiences feel such a connection to the “Notes” love story.

Was it a big change to move from soap opera to a made-for-TV movie?

Most of my work was in a three camera show, but I’ve also worked on stage and in film, so I am comfortable with one camera films. But it’s not like breathing to me as three camera is—I’m as comfortable as that as I am in my living room sofa.

What makes this story so popular with audiences?

Hallmark has an older audience and a lot of older people would love to believe they could have a second chance at love. It’s a really big and powerful message. It’s a romance that is slowly built.  They were working in the same place for five years.  They noticed each other right away but didn’t act on it for five years.  It’s a sweet love story that’s mid-life and their love for each other makes them young again.

What happens in this third chapter?

Peyton has a baby dropped at her doorstep and it brings up all of her guilt and unresolved issues about the baby she did not raise, even though her daughter did come back in her life. She first thinks she is not worthy and then realizes she can do this and wants to do this and she gets to see King as a father. And they both start to fall in love with the baby. It causes an issue in the marriage.

Ted told me he was very impressed by how well you were able to respond to direction because you have such control over your performance.

I take notes well because I don’t cling to my way. I have an idea of how I want to do something but I come to the set very malleable, not overly investing in doing things my way. That way I can bring what good I’ve brought and they can take me a bit further.  I welcome it. The people who have taught me the most about acting were Denise Alexander and Tony Geary on “General Hospital” and my acting teachers, Michael Howard and Bill Esper.

How old were you when you started acting?

I was 14. The first thing I did was “Family,” a two-part episode with Kristy McNichol.  Then three months laeter I got “General Hospital.”  “Family” came back and wanted me again but by then I was already booked.  “General Hospital” told me that they were using me to catch the young audience.  We were on at a time when kids could see us after school.  They get to live with the character every day for an hour so they get very invested in you. The character gets delved into more deeply because there’s so much time to fill. You are a permanent fixture, on every day.  And the character of Laura was really based on my own need to be loved, to find someone to love me, and that was pretty strong for an ingénue.  Luke and Laura – the audience really believed that when you put these two people together they were better off than they were before.  She wasn’t lonely and sad, he wasn’t in the Mafia.  Their union makes each of them whole and better in a new way.

It’s the same thing with Peyton and King – can two older people really have a chance at a happy love life?

How did you like filming in Victoria?

It’s a beautiful part of the world and I really enjoyed being there. My daughter came and we went whale watching. We saw so many whales, many of them jumping out of the water. I ziplined through the forest with my daughter. I am half Canadian and I am seriously considering reclaiming those Canadian roots.

Is your mom a heart healer?  Hallmark Channel is looking for inspirational, poignant or funny stories about moms who have healed a heart.  Post your tributes to  #HeartHealer #HallmarkChannelCountdown

Related Tags:


Actors Interview Television

Interview: Ted McGinley of “Notes from the Heart Healer”

Posted on May 3, 2012 at 8:00 am

Ted McGinley talked to me about re-teaming with Genie Francis for the third in the Hallmark series of films about an advice columnist known as “The Heart Healer.”  In The Note, Peyton (Francis) discovers a note she thinks is from someone who was killed in a plane crash. Struggling with her own grief, including the loss of her husband, she tries to find the intended recipient of the note. The movie was Hallmark’s top rated for 2007 and led to a sequel, The Note II: Taking a Chance on Love, which brings Peyton closer to writer King (McGinley).  Now in chapter three, “Notes from the Heart Healer,” the couple care for an abandoned baby. McGinley spoke to me about what he likes best about his co-star, filming in Victoria, Canada, and about his first real acting job replacing the star of the top television series of the decade.  It will be on the Hallmark Channel Saturday May 12 8/7c & 10/9c and Sunday May 13 12/11c & 8/7c.

How does it feel to come back to this story and these characters?

I was excited to revisit it myself.  First, to work opposite Genie is fantastic.  We have a strange chemistry.  Like an old glove, we just fit into each other.  I loved this script, the best of the three.  And every time we do these movies we go somewhere.  It’s like an adventure.  King’s a nice guy to put on, a nice guy to hang out with.

What is it like to work with Genie Francis?

She’s so skilled that you could lay out a deck of cards and read through all 52 as quickly as possible and have her read it back to you.  She’s that sharp.  She’s just a very open soul.  That’s what she has in common with her character.  When she first started doing this she had done the soap and had not had much experience with single-camera filming, but now she can move into this different formula.  She is like silk when she works, so smooth.  She is so in control of her emotions and how she uses them.  I like her because she is very giving and very honest.  The chemistry is good and it’s a fun place to be.

And what is it that draws people into these characters?

It’s a great story.  I think the shame is that it is not a week to week series — Hallmark should make it a show you could sit down to watch with your family and get a heartwarming story every week, like “Touched by an Angel.”  We are all touched by the fantasy of “what if.”  Peyton reaches out through the newspaper to uncover stories.  Each one is a fun little fantasy and it’s okay by the end.  All you have to do is read the newspaper and there are 20 stories every morning that you could write an episode around.  The first one was such a fun journey and very well done.  The second one was not as well thought out.  The third is the best.  The relationship between King and Peyton is so strong, like she’s the dock he is heading for.  The story is compelling and the guest cast is amazing.  It felt like a little piece of magic up there.

Tell me about playing King.

King had a family previous to this and was addicted to his work.  He just got old enough to realize that just having work and being successful at work and being a Pulitzer prize winner doesn’t do anything for your soul.  You have to have a more well-rounded life.  He lost his marriage and ruined his relationship with his son.  He had climbed into this cave and was trying to do his work but had lost the passion of his life.  He had blinders on.  When he ran into Peyton, she had been in her own cave to protect herself and felt guilty.  They were two wounded warriors who worked near each other but never knew each other, so it is a very healing process as they come together.  He’s an easy person to be around.  Not highly judgmental.  I’m a sports fanatic and he is a sports writer but we never delve into that.  All of that has to be in his background.  Sometimes there are characters that are fun because they are nasty and shoot people but some are fun and comfortable and easy to get into, and that’s King; he’s a trustworthy, reliable, decent, smart character.

This chapter adds some new characters.

Laci J. Mailey stole the movie, just phenomenal, as the baby’s mother.  The twins who took turns playing the baby were so great.  When I’m away I miss my family so much and it was so great to have these babies to hang onto.

Where was it filmed?

Victoria.  I spent half my time looking for places to live if I didn’t live where I do now.  We were in Brentwood Victoria, and it is just spectacular.  It is one of the great family vacation spots.  You can do 50 different things almost every day, watch the planes come in and land on the water, whales, museums, the Community Gardens.

How did you decide to pursue acting? 

I was playing water polo at USC, and a girlfriend told me I should do some modeling.  I didn’t know what that was.  I started modeling and someone was there casting a movie called “Valentine” with Jack Albertson and Mary Martin and they needed a guy to run on the beach.  It was supposed to be a one-day deal and they paid my modeling fee.  It rained for 13 straight days and I ended up being the 3rd highest paid, because they had to pay me for all those days.  I spent 13 days hanging out with Jack Albertson and watching him.  This is a fun job, and exciting job.  I still thought I was going to go into commercial real estate or having my own advertising company.  But this kept tugging at me and I ended up on “Happy Days” while I was still doing commercials, without any training.  I had on-the-job training — with the Fonz.  Ron Howard left because they wouldn’t let him direct, so I call it “the Chachi years.”  It was a great learning ground.  I made a lot of mistakes, publicly, coming from being very successful in polo to being a beginner.  I’m never the guy who got in for the attention; I still don’t like getting up in front of a crowd.  In some ways Roger on “Happy Days” was my most challenging role because I didn’t have a clue what I was doing.  I didn’t know timing, rhythms.  I played a murderer/rapist in a TV movie and that was very challenging.  But there’s always a couple of moments in every show — the key is to find those moments and allow them to be challenging.  There’s a lot of jobs you can’t say no to, and you say, how am I going to do this, to get through those kinds of scripts and live with yourself.

What are some of your family’s favorite movies to watch together?

“Kicking and Screaming,” the soccer movie with Will Ferrell — we love that as family.  My house is that house that all the kids go to.  We still howl laughing at it.  On the way to a soccer tournament, we’ll watch it, too.  And “Elf” — it’s fun when you watch it with a group of teenagers and watch them laugh hysterically.  That’s the best.


Is your mom a heart healer?  Hallmark Channel is looking for inspirational, poignant or funny stories about moms who have healed a heart.  Post your tributes to 

#HeartHealer #HallmarkChannelCountdown



Related Tags:


Actors Interview Television
THE MOVIE MOM® is a registered trademark of Nell Minow. Use of the mark without express consent from Nell Minow constitutes trademark infringement and unfair competition in violation of federal and state laws. All material © Nell Minow 1995-2024, all rights reserved, and no use or republication is permitted without explicit permission. This site hosts Nell Minow’s Movie Mom® archive, with material that originally appeared on Yahoo! Movies, Beliefnet, and other sources. Much of her new material can be found at, Huffington Post, and WheretoWatch. Her books include The Movie Mom’s Guide to Family Movies and 101 Must-See Movie Moments, and she can be heard each week on radio stations across the country.

Website Designed by Max LaZebnik