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Michael Landon’s Son Makes Family Friendly TV Too

Michael Landon Jr. reflects on his time on ‘Little House on the Prairie,’ and gives fans a teaser for the next season of ‘When Calls the Heart.’

Michael Landon Jr. is a prolific director of family-friendly films and the co-creator of Hallmark Channel’s When Calls the Heart.

How did Little House in the Prairie influence Michael Landon Jr. as a filmmaker?

Little House on the Prairie was my favorite of my father’s work and it greatly influenced the type of storytelling I wanted to pursue. I’m forever grateful to author, Janette Oke, for entrusting me with her work and allowing me to adapt it for the small screen.

Janette Oke (left) wrote the books on which Michael Landon Jr. based the Hallmark Channel series, ‘When Calls the Heart.’ Credit: Crown Media.

What TV shows does Michael Landon Jr. watch with his family?

There isn’t much to watch as a family these days. But when we do it’s usually sports (big hockey and tennis fans) or a competition show like The Voice.

How did Michael Landon Jr. meet Brian Bird?

I met Brian Bird through a mutual friend. We got together a few times socially. Shortly thereafter, Fox Home Video was doing amazing business with Love Comes Softly which I cowrote, produced and directed so they approached me to make a series of family-friendly movies.

I reached out to Brian and we teamed up on several movies. He’s great to collaborate with and always has your back.

Brian Bird, Janette Oke, and Michelle Cox on the set of When Calls the Heart.
Brian Bird, Janette Oke, and Michelle Cox on location of “When Calls the Heart.” Credit: Brian Bird.

How did Michael Landon Jr. feel when he lost funding for a When Calls the Heart movie during the 2008 recession?

Devastated. Nothing like that had ever happened to me or Brian Bird in our many years of working in the business.

In terms of finding the strength to press forward, we knew the footage with Stephen Amell and Maggie Grace was just beautiful and their performances were captivating.

So we knew we couldn’t give up.

But since we were unable to get them back, I created a whole new story that would allow us to incorporate the footage with Stephen and Maggie using them as flashbacks for our new heroine.

I guess it worked out since we are now on When Calls the Heart Season 7.

How did Love Comes Softly teach Michael Landon Jr. to be persistent?

Except for the exception, persistence is vital in our industry. For example, it took me almost ten years to get Love Comes Softly made. Everyone thought it was too soft and there wasn’t a Little House audience out there anymore.

Katherine Heigl and Dale Midkiff on the set of ‘Love Comes Softly.’
Katherine Heigl and Dale Midkiff on the set of ‘Love Comes Softly.’ Midkiff said Heigl and her mother could often be found knitting in between scenes. Credit: Crown Media Family Networks.

Thankfully, Hallmark stepped up and when it aired it became the highest rated movie in the history of the channel by 40%.

When we made the sequel, Love’s Enduring Promise, that became the highest rated movie in the history of the channel.

Introduce When Calls the Heart to someone tuning in for the first time.

Sit down and watch with family and friends.

I know you’re going to love Hope Valley!

Why does Michael Landon Jr. think families are drawn to When Calls the Heart

I believe it’s the rare combination of family, faith, hope and love, mixed in with a bit of humor. We wanted to create a place, Coal Valley then Hope Valley, where the audience could escape to and yearn for. It’s not that nothing bad ever happens, but it’s the way the characters interact and resolve what’s confronting them.

Erin Krakow and Michael Landon Jr. on the set of When Calls the Heart.
Erin Krakow (left) and Michael Landon Jr. (right) on the set of ‘When Calls the Heart.’ Credit: Crown Media.

What does Michael Landon Jr. remember about Little House on the Prairie?

Some of my fondest memories as a child was being on the set of Little House on the Prairie. It was magical – playing games, hanging out with the cast and crew, surrounded by nature. The type of storytelling also set the stage for a family-friendly environment.

I believe it’s the same for a When Calls the Heart child actor.

How is it different? Cellphones.

Michael Landon and his son, Michael Landon Jr. posing for a photograph.
The type of storytelling told by Michael Landon (left) on ‘Little House on the Prairie’ influenced the way his son, Michael Landon Jr. (right) would tell stories on ‘When Calls the Heart.’ Credit: Michael Landon Jr.

What does Michael Landon Jr. think of the emotional investment of When Calls the Heart fans?

It’s quite gratifying when the audience invests their precious time and emotions into your characters and storylines. The fans—aka Hearties—of When Calls the Heart are just phenomenal.

Give fans a (spoiler-proof) teaser for the 2019 Christmas special.

With it being Little Jack’s first Christmas and Birthday, the town is overjoyed with showering him with gifts.

It is also the first Christmas without Jack and that weighs heavily on Elizabeth, but someone in Hope Valley brings everyone together in a very special way.

By Kurt Manwaring

Editor. History nerd. Latter-day Saint.

6 replies on “Michael Landon’s Son Makes Family Friendly TV Too”

Dale MidKiff a great actor knowing he’s a Chirstan praise the Lord , When call the heart and Love Abiding I watch all the time when comes on , I cry and talk me more love in Christ Wonderful movie his wife is very bless sincerely Shirley Smith From Tennessee living in Arkansas around 15 years or more

You don’t have to be a “Christian” to have faith, do good works, OR believe in a higher power than just yourself as a mere thoughtful and caring human being. Peggie Davis, Las Vegas, Nevada

I would love to send Mr. Landon a movie idea. I thoroughly enjoy When Calls the Heart. We need more films like this! I’ve written two books in hopes to encourage children to read but I am having the hardest time finding someone to publish it. I did self publish on Amazon., A Well Gnome Fact by April Grosse. They are wonderful stories and I feel that the fans of WCTH would embrace these stories for their families to enjoy year after year. There is no zombies, no swearing, no inappropriate material. It’s just good wholesome family fun. And sadly that is why I feel the main stream media hasn’t given me a chance. This is a huge shot in the dark but I really have no idea how a girl from small town in Montana gets in touch with Mr. Landon JR. May God Bless and thank you so much for keeping clean entertainment alive!

My name is Joyce Thompson I have been watching Little House on the Prairie since I was very little I am 56 now and I’m still watching the repeats I just started seeing your television show that you directed and your father it is beautiful your father was a wonderful man and he is Missed dearly I didn’t even know he had a son God bless you both you’re doing a wonderful job

Loves enduring promise loves long journey and all the other movies you produced you’re just like your dad soft hearted caring movies sad and happy caring and lovingHard times and good times reminds me of Little House on the Prairie keep up the great work

Love comes softly
I’ve never had a stronger reaction to a movie or show as this. Katherine Heigl playing that part. Nonverbal & verbal suffering. To go to the funeral & get married because the preacher won’t be back is unimaginable. I suffered right with her character. I do like to see triumph through Faith… and reminding me I am never alone,, I can talk to my Father above,, “anytime”.. WCTH is very empty of that, just a clean show. My son bought me the movie Love comes softly. I looked forward too & love The whole series and now I want to watch it again❤lol Thank you for trying for 10 yrs. Mr. Landon to get it made. What A Gift to give.

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