Smooch stars Martin (left) and Shipka

The Hallmark Channel is famous at press tour for bringing critics face to face with some of the stars of the past. Those of us who grew up watching Ernest Borgnine as the skipper of McHale’s Navy or the great Dick Van Dyke can’t get enough of these Hallmark moments. We might be getting older together, but seeing these great stars from the past never gets old.
One such occasion was just last month in Pasadena when Hallmark hosted critics at the Tournament of Roses House, a stately residence packed with fine china and Rose Bowl mementos. A large tent was set up on the lawn and critics wined and dined with the likes of Jane Seymour (Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman), Touched by an Angel‘s Roma Downey (there with Survivor boss/hubby Mark Burnett) and Markie Post (Night Court), among other stars from the ’80s and ’90s appearing in current Hallmark projects.
The biggest attraction for me that night, however, was the youngest person in the room: Kiernan Shipka, the 11-year-old scene stealer who was so effective this past season as Don Draper’s wide-eyed daughter Sally on Mad Men. Shipka is just as poised and impressive in person, all lady like in a grown up big girl dress that would have looked, as she pointed out, right at home, in Sally’s world of the mid-’60s.
She admitted that she really isn’t allowed to watch the adult AMC drama but she loves working on it. Jon Hamm, she says, is a very nice man, quick to laugh on the set.
Hallmark was showcasing Shipka as the young star of Smooch, a TV-movie airing tonight at 9/8c on the U.S. cable channel. (The service does not cross the border and no Canadian network has picked the film up so far.)
Smooch is a modern, light-hearted re-telling of the Brothers Grimm fable The Frog King. Shipka plays a girl named Zoe looking for a prince for her widowed mother (played by ex-child star Kellie Martin of Life Goes On and ER fame). A frog is found (in a science lab), is kissed, and fairy tale shenanigans ensue.
Shipka’s character Zoe is more carefree in Smooched than the troubled Sally in Mad Men but that wasn’t part of some carefully orchestrated career plan and anyway, says Shipka, its all fun at this point. Asked if she was aware that there is a groundswell among critics to get her name on the ballot as a best supporting actress in time for the next Emmy Awards, Shipka, said it would be an honor, it would be amazing, and then in the understatement of the press tour, said, “I am aware.”
That she really is only 11 came toward the end of the Hallmark session when she admitted she was a Justin Bieber fan. “I like the Twilight series. I like Robert Pattinson. I like Justin Bieber,” she said. “I don’t know if I have Bieber Fever or not.”

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