World premier of Macomber’s Cedar Cove series is Saturday

The big question is, “How will we look?”

Fans around the country are eagerly awaiting Saturday’s world premier of “Debbie Macomber’s Cedar Cove,” the Hallmark Channel television series based on books by local bestselling author Debbie Macomber. Macomber in turn based her wildly popular series on the town of Port Orchard, where she makes her home.

The show is at 8 p.m. Saturday on the Hallmark Channel, with episodes scheduled at the same time every Saturday at least through August 31. Spoiler alert: I’ve pasted summaries of the six episodes below for those of you who want to get a jump on the whole experience.

The Debbie Macomber experience has been a phenomenon for the city of Port Orchard for nearly three decades. The humble and perennially cheerful homemaker began her career typing at the kitchen table. Macomber rose through the ranks of bestselling women’s fiction beginning in the 1980s. Her early success was documented by the late JoAnne Marez, retired Kitsap Sun reporter and editor, who died July 7. Macomber recalled how a story JoAnne wrote in the mid-1990s was picked up by the Associated Press, accelerating the author’s fame and fortune. I know if JoAnne were alive, she would be glued to the TV for every episode.

I interviewed Macomber in 2009, as the town was getting ready to portray itself in the first (and so far only) Cedar Cove Days, which drew thousands of fans from far and wide. Locals dressed up as characters from the books. A map showed places — the library, restaurants and homes around town — that inspired Macomber’s imaginary Cedar Cove. The town got a new paint job, and there was some tension over the color scheme. Some aspects of the town didn’t lend themselves too well to sprucing up — Bay Street buildings that showed (and still show) their backsides (adorned with dumpsters) to the waterfront and marina. But the unpretentious Macomber wanted her fans to see the town “warts and all.”

In the series, Judge Olivia Lockhart is played by Golden Globe winner Andie McDowell. We’ll take that as a compliment.
Debbie Macomber's Cedar Cove 1001-- (Photo by: Chris Large/Hallmark)
Macomber herself stumped for the filming to take place in Port Orchard, but producers may have felt that was a little too much reality. The series was shot in Victoria, Canada. We’ll take that as a compliment, as well. Which brings us back to the original question, “How will be look?” All glammed up by Andie McDowell and Victoria, B.C., will Port Orchard (a.k.a. Cedar Cove) even be able to recognize itself?

In the series premiere, MacDowell plays Judge Olivia Lockhart, “whose Cedar Cove Municipal Court is the professional milieu and social microcosm of issues the judge will face in her own day-to-day life with family and friends,” according to the Hallmark Channel website.

“Jack Griffith (Dylan Neal), the editor of the Cedar Cove Chronicle, is a new friend and potential love interest for Judge Lockhart,” the website continues. “Judge Lockhart hears her name is being put forth for appointment to a Federal judgeship in Seattle, and she asks that her family keep the news a secret. But Griffith, “desperate for a meaningful news story,” (those damn newspaper people!) “corners Olivia’s mother who inadvertently tells the editor about everything in her daughter’s life – including the possible appointment. … Suddenly, Olivia (much to her chagrin) is front page news.”

Hmmmm, judge-editor, potential love interest … I could have told Judge Lockhart THAT was a bad idea.

Two actors from the set recently visited Port Orchard, according to Macomber’s daughter Adele LaCombe, executive director of Debbie Macomber the Brand. Yes, our neighbor Debbie Macomber is a copyrighted brand that covers not only her books, but movies, television series and even cookbooks that Macomber has written (one based on recipes mentioned in the Cedar Cove books).

The actors were utterly charmed by Port Orchard, LaCombe said. Fortunately, they made their visit about a week before a fire ripped through the upstairs apartment/rooming house of the Los Cabos building on Bay Street. The cause of the fire is considered suspicious and is still under investigation. Now, with renovation of the Myhre’s building (also gutted by fire two years ago) stalled in a legal morass, the town has bookend eyesores.

But there are also some charming new additions: The nearly completed DeKalb Pier upgrade and a new dock at the Water Street Boat launch help make the town look prosperous and classy. The city of Port Orchard did that work and a recently completed a segment of the Bay Street Pedestrian Pathway that is one of several enhancements to the Port of Bremerton-owned Port Orchard Marina Park.

I guess your impression of the town depends on your willingness to look past the “warts” and see the efforts being made by shopkeepers and building owners — flowers, banners, attractive wares, a public market in the works at the old Slip 45 building — to make Bay Street look like something out of a storybook. Oh, alright, maybe we’ll never be Cedar Cover. But if we were Debbie Macomber — our down-to-earth neighbor, not the brand — maybe we could see the best in our town and cherish it for what it is … warts and all.

See, I can write fiction, too.

Here at the episode capsules courtesy of Hallmark:
‘DEBBIE MACOMBER’S CEDAR COVE’
Hallmark Channel Original Primetime Series
Episode: #1001 “A House Divided”
Saturday, July 27 at 8p.m. ET/PT, 7C
Starring: Andie MacDowell, Dylan Neal, Teryl Rothery, Bruce Boxleitner, Barbara Niven, Brennan Elliott, Paula Shaw, Sarah Smyth, Corey Sevier, Timothy Webber, Elyse Levesque and Garry Chalk

Judge Olivia Lockhart finds herself in a house divided after her seaside town goes up in arms when arrogant and wealthy developer Warren Saget threatens to tear down Cedar Cove’s historic lighthouse. Local Thyme and Tide innkeepers Bob and Peggy Beldon lead the townspeople in protest, including Olivia’s mom Charlotte, leaving Olivia caught in the middle when the case ends up in her courtroom and she must put her emotions aside to abide by the law. Then, Olivia’s new romance with newspaper reporter Jack Griffith is threatened when he paints Olivia in an unfavorable light in his story about the case. While the town begins to turn their backs on their respected judge, Olivia’s daughter Justine, recently single after ending her engagement to Warren, sees a spark reignite with old high school sweetheart Seth Gunderson and Olivia’s best friend Grace Sherman, home from a post-divorce vacation, begins readjusting to single life.

‘DEBBIE MACOMBER’S CEDAR COVE’
Hallmark Channel Original Primetime Series
Episode: #1002 “Reunion”
Saturday, August 3 at 8p.m. ET/PT, 7C
Starring: Andie MacDowell, Dylan Neal, Teryl Rothery, Paula Shaw, Andrew Airlie, Sarah Smyth, Corey Sevier, Timothy Webber and Elyse Levesque
Guest Starring: Sebastian Spence and Tom Stevens

When Jack’s estranged son Eric shows up in Cedar Cove completely unannounced, their uncomfortable reunion is long overdue. As Jack starts to get to know his son amid Eric’s constant hurtful reminders of Jack’s alcoholic past and poor parenting, Olivia and Grace learn a secret that makes them question Eric’s intentions. Charlotte wants to fulfill the dying wish of a stroke victim she met while volunteering at the local hospital by tracking down his family and asks Olivia for help. But when Charlotte also recruits Olivia’s friendly ex-husband Stan to do some digging, Olivia is faced with her own uneasy reunion.

‘DEBBIE MACOMBER’S CEDAR COVE’
Hallmark Channel Original Primetime Series
Episode: #1003 “Suspicious Minds”
Saturday, August 10 at 8p.m. ET/PT, 7C
Starring: Andie MacDowell, Dylan Neal, Bruce Boxleitner, Barbara Niven, Teryl Rothery, Paula Shaw, Andrew Airlie, Sarah Smyth, Corey Sevier, Garry Chalk, Brennan Elliott, Elyse Levesque, Timothy Webber, Kendall Cross, Matreya Fedor and Brendan Meyer
Guest Starring: Tom Stevens and Charlie Carrick

A bloodied and quiet man arrives to the Thyme and Tide in the middle of the night asking for a room, inexplicably missing all of his belongings. Sensing trouble, Bob and Peggy reluctantly let him stay, promising to work out the details later. But when he is found mysteriously dead in his room the next morning, the Beldons are stunned and upset and the Cedar Cove gossip mill begins buzzing with the news. As Sheriff Troy Davis leads the investigation, Jack is quick to begin covering the story for the Chronicle—even in the midst of rising tensions between him and Olivia about Eric’s bad attitude. Meanwhile, at Cedar Cove’s annual Art Walk, Justine is on the verge of a new career when she receives a prominent booth to display her work and is stunned when her dad Stan shows up to support her, invoking unresolved feelings.

‘DEBBIE MACOMBER’S CEDAR COVE’
Hallmark Channel Original Primetime Series
Episode: #1004 “For the Sake of the Children”
Saturday, August 17 at 8p.m. ET/PT, 7C
Starring: Andie MacDowell, Dylan Neal, Teryl Rothery, Kendall Cross, Lochlyn Munro, Paula Shaw, Elyse Levesque, Matreya Fedor, Sean Michael Kyer, Sarah Smyth, Brennan Elliott, Timothy Webber and Garry Chalk
Guest Starring: Tom Stevens and Sebastian Spence

In court, Olivia hears both sides of Rosie and Zach Westen’s heated, he-said, she-said divorce case, struggling to decide what’s best, for the sake of the children, Allison and Eddie. While the case stirs up painful memories of Olivia’s own divorce, Jack is also reminded of his past when he notices Eric is stalling to find a job and starting to take advantage of Jack’s guilt. Then, after budget cuts leaves the Mayor no choice but to close the town’s beloved library, Grace resolves to raise the money to keep it open herself, hosting a fundraiser where she meets a charming man new to Cedar Cove, Cliff Harting.

‘DEBBIE MACOMBER’S CEDAR COVE’
Hallmark Channel Original Primetime Series
Episode: #1005 “Free Spirits”
Saturday, August 24 at 8p.m. ET/PT, 7C
Starring: Andie MacDowell, Dylan Neal, Teryl Rothery, Bruce Boxleitner, Sarah Smyth, Corey Sevier, Paula Shaw, Elyse Levesque and Timothy Webber
Guest Starring: Sebastian Spence and Charlie Carrick

Justine is excited to welcome Seth back from his job at sea, but when he doesn’t show up for several days, she fears the worst and decides to go on a dangerous solo trip to a remote Alaskan town to find him. Olivia is concerned, especially as she remembers the pain of losing her son several years ago in an accident. Worried she’ll lose Justine too, Olivia’s sleepless nights start taking a toll and is hesitant to leave town when Jack asks her to go to Seattle for the weekend on their first trip as a couple. As both Justine and Olivia face stepping out of their comfort zones, they ultimately realize the adventure might be worth the risk.

‘DEBBIE MACOMBER’S CEDAR COVE’
Hallmark Channel Original Primetime Series
Episode: #1006 “Help Wanted”
Saturday, August 31 at 8p.m. ET/PT, 7C
Starring: Andie MacDowell, Dylan Neal, Teryl Rothery, Bruce Boxleitner, Barbara Niven, Matreya Fedor, Brendan Meyer, Kendall Cross, Sarah Smyth, Paula Shaw, Andrew Airlie, Garry Chalk, Timothy
Hallmark’s two-hour world premier of Debbie Macomber’s Cedar Cove is 8 p.m. Saturday. The program kicks off a television series based on the Cedar Cove books by local best-selling author Debbie Macomber.

Webber
Guest Starring: Richard De Klerk and Sebastian Spence

The Westen’s messy divorce starts taking a toll on daughter Allison, who is quick to lean on her friend Anson for support and put in extra hours at the Thyme and Tide Inn just to escape. But when her mom Rosie gets a permanent room at the Inn, Allison is on the verge of a breakdown. Then, before a trip to Seattle with Jack, Olivia gets a surprising visit from Lenny, a reformed criminal she helped put in jail years ago, who has returned to Cedar Cove wanting a fresh start. Seeing a change in him, Olivia promises to help Lenny find a job, but feels defeated when everyone in Cedar Cove is too quick to judge the ex-convict and turns him away. Then, when the harbor’s beautiful pergola goes up in flames at the hands of an apparent arsonist, even Olivia is suspicious of Lenny, but everyone is shocked by the conclusion in court.

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