Nellie Andreeva

OWN: Oprah Winfrey Network this morning announced four new unscripted series for 2013, including docu-series Raising Whitley, about comedienne Kym Whitley and her friends; Dogfellas, about a mobster-turned-dog groomer; and Blackboard Wars, about the efforts to improve a troubled New Orleans high school. OWN also has given a series order to Golden Sisters, the special/backdoor pilot about three frisky octogenarian sisters that aired last month. Additionally, the network has set May 29 as a premiere date for its first scripted series from Tyler Perry, drama The Haves and the Have Nots and half-hour comedy Love Thy Neighbor. “All of these new programs reflect the best of the human spirit. From the funny to the dramatic, we are always shooting for to-the-bone real,” said Sheri Salata, president, OWN. Returning with new episodes this year are OWN’s three Oprah series, Oprah’s Master Class, Oprah: Where Are They Now? and Oprah’s Next Chapter as well as Iyanla: Fix My Life. Upcoming guests for the network’s flagship Oprah’s Next Chapter include Drew Barrymore, LL Cool J and Whitney Houston’s mother Cissy Houston on the one year anniversary of the singer’s death. Here are descriptions of OWN’s new and returning series:

“Blackboard Wars” (Premieres in March)

“Blackboard Wars” centers on the dramatic transformation of New Orleans’ John McDonogh High School, one of the most dangerous and under-performing high schools in the country, where more than half of its students fail to graduate.  Granted unprecedented access, the docu-series goes behind the scenes following education maverick Steve Barr and no-nonsense principal Dr. Marvin Thompson as they embark together on an unpredictable mission to reinvent and revive the struggling school.  The series is produced by Discovery Studios.

“Golden Sisters” (Premieres 2013)

“Golden Sisters” is a real-life comedy following the hilarious adventures of Mary, Josie & Teresa, three sisters who shot to fame after a web video of the ladies watching a celebrity sex tape went viral.  With Mary in her eighties and her twin sisters not far behind, these three raucous women are not youraverage seniors.  Between running a successful salon and giving colorful advice to their growing online fan base, these spirited, lovable ladies share their outrageous opinions on everything from sex and dating, to celebrities and pop culture.  One minute they are at each other’s throats, and the next they’re best friends sharing a lifetime of memories and providing an endless supply of laughs.  Produced by LMNO Productions.

“Raising Whitley” (Premieres 2013)

“Raising Whitley” (working title) is a humorous and poignant new docu-series following actress and comedienne Kym Whitley and her chaotic collective of friends – whom she calls “The Village” – as they attempt to do something none of them have ever done before: raise a baby…together.  When Kym signed up for the Big Sister program to mentor a troubled young girl, she never imagined she’d get a call from the hospital saying, “Your baby is ready for collection.” After learning that her mentee exited the maternity ward leaving only Kym’s contact information, Kym experienced a cataclysmic moment.  With less than an hour to make a life-changing decision – and to do a lifetime of soul-searching – Kym chose to become a mother.  The Village banded together to help Kym bring up baby Joshua Whitley the best they know how, but sometimes it’s hard to tell who is more mature – baby Joshua or the adults tasked with raising him.  Produced by Pilgrim Studios.

“Dogfellas” (Premieres 2013)

“Dogfellas” (working title) follows James “Head” Guiliani, a former street enforcer for the mafia and one of John Gotti’s most trusted men, whose life-changing encounter with a stray pup inspired him to open Brooklyn’s top dog grooming parlor.  In addition to pampering pooches, Head rescues dogs, and his life is as complicated now as it was with the mob.  With a constant battle to pay the bills, a fiery wife who doesn’t always share his love for canines, and a staff who spend more time primping themselves than the pets,Head has his hands full.  From old ‘associates,’ to thrilling rescue missions, to his wife, Head tries to maintain some semblance of normalcy in his bizarre, heartfelt, and hilarious new life.  Produced by NERD TV.

“The Haves And The Have Nots” (Premieres Wednesday, May 29)

Written, directed and produced by TylerPerry, “The Haves and the Have Nots” is a one-hour drama series following the dynamics of the affluent Cryer family and the impoverished family of Hanna, their housekeeper, and the obstacles and secrets that exist within both families.  Produced by Tyler Perry Studios.

“Love Thy Neighbor” (Premieres Wednesday, May 29)

Written, directed and produced by Tyler Perry, “Love Thy Neighbor” is a half-hour comedy set at Love’s Diner, where every day the menu serves up good food, great laughs, valuable life lessons and a whole lot of love for its zany neighbors.  Produced by Tyler Perry Studios.

“Oprah’s Next Chapter” (Sundays at 9 p.m.)

OWN’s flagship series “Oprah’s Next Chapter,” featuring Oprah Winfrey’s interviews with top news-making celebrities, has given the network some of its highest ratings hitting #1 in its time period in all of cable multiple times.  The primetime series features Winfrey as she steps outside of the studio for riveting, enlightening and in-depth conversations with newsmakers, celebrities, thought leaders and real-life families.  Upcoming episodes will feature actress Drew Barrymore from her home in California; actor/rapper LL Cool J with his family at their home in Los Angeles and Whitney Houston’s mother Cissy Houston one year after her daughter’s untimely passing. 

“Oprah’s Master Class” (Returns in March)

“Oprah’s Master Class” tells the stories you’ve never heard from the people you thought you knew best.  Hand-picked by Oprah Winfrey for their unique impact on the world, true modern masters share their successes, their failures, their triumphs, disappointments and heartbreaks. “Oprah’s Master Class” offers an unprecedented first-person insight into the brilliant minds of the famous people we love, respect and admire.  Season two will feature entertainers Alicia Keys, Lenny Kravitz and StevieNicks, award-winning actors Diahann Carroll and Susan Sarandon, music mogul Berry Gordy, supermodel/entrepreneur Cindy Crawford and renowned journalist Tom Brokaw.  ”Oprah’s Master Class” is co-produced by Harpo Studios and @radical.media.

“Oprah: Where Are They Now?” (Returns in March)

Their stories made headlines across America.  “Oprah: Where Are They Now?” tracks down “Oprah Show” guests who made you laugh…and made you cry.  Find out where they are now, plus see what happened to the biggest newsmakers of all time and how their lives changed after sudden fame and notoriety turned their worlds upside down.  Upcoming episodes feature Omarosa, rapper Bow Wow, “Octomom” Nadya Suleman, Dennis Rodman, Gennifer Flowers, Heidi Fleiss and Columbine Families.  Produced by Harpo Studios.

“Iyanla: Fix My Life” (Returns this spring)

A new season of “Iyanla: Fix My Life” returns this spring including a powerful episode with multi-platinum rapper and actor DMX.  Iyanla Vanzant, accomplished author, inspirational speaker, talk show host and living testament to the value in life’s valleys and the power of acting on faith, goes behind closed doors and deep inside the most private parts of people’s lives for emotional, riveting conversations.  Iyanla has had a unique life filled with many personal struggles that she has overcome and used to become stronger.  Now, Iyanla is back, helping people fix their lives using her past to help others’ futures.  Secrets will be revealed, truths will be uncovered and emotions will come out as Iyanla teaches us how to pull back the curtain on what is broken in our lives.   Produced by Harpo Studios.

TV Editor Nellie Andreeva - tip her here.