EXCLUSIVE: The case of Los Angeles’ notorious “Grim Sleeper” serial killer is getting a TV movie treatment with Lifetime‘s The Grim Sleeper starring Dreama Walker (Don’t Trust The B—-) and co-starring actress-singer Macy Gray (Training Day), Ernie Hudson (Call Me Crazy), and Michael O’Neill (Dallas Buyers Club). It will be directed by Stanley M. Brooks in the veteran TV movie producer’s return to the genre. In 2010, Brooks left the TV movie business after 21 years when he filed for bankruptcy as a result of a dispute with AFTRA, WGA and DGA over residuals from the Logo series Sordid Lives. Since then, he quietly took on a new career as a director with horror indie Perfect Sisters, which is awaiting release. It is fitting that Brooks’ return to the TV movie business is via Lifetime where he was a top telefilm supplier until severing ties with the network in 2010 amid his guild troubles. (Brooks is married to Lifetime’s head of TV movies Tanya Lopez.)
The Grim Sleeper, written by Robert Nathan (Law & Order) and Teena Booth (The Drew Peterson Story), is inspired by the true stories of the victims and survivor of the alleged serial killer dubbed the “Grim Sleeper” — referring to the apparent 14-year hiatus between his alleged murders. He targeted women in the Los Angeles area between 1985-2009. The plot will center on LA Weekly investigative reporter Christine Pelisek (Walker), who broke the story of the serial killer and coined the nickname. Read More »
The Society of Camera Operators has announced the recipients of its Lifetime Achievement Awards for 2014. The Camera Operator Award goes to Chris Haarhoff, whose credits include Saving Private Ryan, Fight Club and Almost Famous. Other honorees are William Coe (Jersey Boys, The Avengers, J. Edgar), Lifetime Achievement as Camera Technician; Barry Wetcher (GoodFellas, Quiz Show, Sherlock Holmes), Lifetime Achievement as Still Photographer; and Jack Carpenter of Carpenter Camera Cars (Mr. and Mrs. Smith, Crash, The Matrix Reloaded), Lifetime Achievement as Mobile Camera Platform Operator. The society’s Lifetime Achievement Award for Distinguished Service goes to Stan McClain, founder of Filmtools Inc., and the President’s Award for Lifetime Achievement will be presented to Leonard Chapman, founder of Chapman–Leonard Studio Equipment, for his support of the camera operator. The awards will be handed out February 15 at the Skirball Cultural Center in Los Angeles.
The 64th Berlin Film Festival will pay tribute to British director Ken Loach with an honorary Golden Bear at a presentation ceremony that will feature a screening of his 1993 Cannes Jury Prize winner Raining Stones. Berlin Fest chief Dieter Kosslick calls Loach, “one of Europe’s great directors… His profound interest in people and their individual fates, as well as his critical commitment to society have found expression in a variety of cinematic approaches.” One of Loach’s early successes, Cathy Come Home, aired on the BBC in 1966, drawing 12 million viewers. The docudrama about a young working-class family that slides into homelessness and is subsequently separated, received such an influx of support at the time that it crashed the BBC switchboard. Among other highlights of the director’s oeuvre are Land And Freedom (1995), My Name Is Joe (1998), Bread And Roses (2000), The Wind That Shakes The Barley (2006), Looking For Eric (2009) and 2012 comedy The Angel’s Share. He has appeared in Berlin several times, most recently with 2013′s The Spirit Of ’45. The Berlinale will run a retrospective of 10 of Loach’s films to commemorate the award.
Wilmer Valderrama is the latest addition to the cast of Robert Rodriguez’s From Dusk Till Dawn: The Series for Latino-themed El Rey network. On the 10-episode drama based on the cult horror film by Rodriguez and Quentin Tarantino, the That ’70s Show alum will play enigmatic crime lord Carlos. Valderrama has a first-look film and TV deal with another venture targeting Latino audiences, Pantheon Films.
The Vampire Diaries alum David Alpay has been cast in Lifetime’s dystopian-future drama pilot The Lottery, set in a world where women have stopped having children, threatening extinction of the human race. When 100 embryos are successfully fertilized by Dr. Alison Scott (Marley Shelton), a national lottery is held to decide the surrogates. Alpay, repped by APA, KLWGN, and Canada’s Characters Agency, will play James, Alison’s colleague and current lab assistant.
Lifetime is going two for two with its freshman scripted series. As expected, the cable network has given a second season pickup to drama Witches Of East End, starring Julia Ormond, Mädchen Amick, Jenna Dewan Tatum and Rachel Boston as a family of witches living in the secluded seaside town of East Haven. The series has received a 13-episode order for a 2014 premiere. “With its great story telling and amazing cast, Witches Of East End is leading a full-blown witch renaissance,” said Rob Sharenow, EVP and General Manager of Lifetime. Witches Of East End joins Lifetime’s freshman Devious Maids, which also has been renewed for a second season. One of Lifetime’s youngest skewing scripted series ever, with a median age of 46, Witches Of East End, from Fox 21, is averaging 3.0 million total viewers, 1.7 million Adults 25-54 and Adults 18-49 viewers, and 1.3 million Women 18-49 and Women 25-54 viewers on a Live+7 basis through five weeks. Read More »
EXCLUSIVE: Marley Shelton (Eleventh Hour) is set as the lead in Lifetime’s dystopian-future drama pilot The Lottery, written by Timothy J. Sexton and directed by Danny Cannon. The Warner Horizon-produced conspiracy thriller is set in a world where women have stopped having children, threatening extinction of the human race. When 100 embryos are successfully fertilized, a national lottery is held to decide the surrogates. The series centers on Dr. Alison Scott (Shelton), the brilliant fertility specialist whose breakthrough in fertilizing 100 viable eggs may have life-and-death consequences she could not have anticipated.
Related: Lifetime Casts Trio In Pilot ‘The Lottery’
Noah Bean is reuniting with his Nikita co-star Aaron Stanford in 12 Monkeys, Syfy‘s drama pilot based on the 1995 Terry Gilliam movie. Also joining the pilot, from Universal Cable Prods. and Atlas Entertainment, is Emmy winner Željko Ivanek (Damages), who will guest star.
Related: Aaron Stanford & Amanda Schull To Topline Syfy’s ‘12 Monkeys’
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Pageant coach Kim Gravel stars in Lifetime‘s Kim Of Queens. The reality series focuses on Gravel’s mission to find talented young girls who might be passed over at first glance and transform them, with tough love and humor, into confident young women. Kim Of Queens will debut at 10 PM on January 1 with subsequent episodes airing at 10 PM on Tuesdays following Dance Moms. Kim Of Queens is produced by Relativity Television and executive produced by Tom Forman (Extreme Makeover: Home Edition), Brad Bishop and Bryan O’Donnell, along with Lifetime’s Colleen Conway Grogan, Mary Donahue and Eli Lehrer. A+E Networks will handle global sales.
Heather Graham and Ellen Burstyn star in Lifetime‘s original movie, adapted from V.C. Andrews’ controversial bestseller. Flowers In The Attic is the gothic tale of four siblings who are locked away to live in the attic of their grandparents’ mansion after a family tragedy. Forced to endure unimaginable treatment, the children form a family unit of their own. But as the oldest boy and girl come of age both emotionally and physically while caring for their younger brother and sister, their family’s sordid past entraps them further as they try to survive and escape from the harsh conditions in which they live. Cast also includes Kiernan Shipka, Mason Dye and Dylan Bruce. It’s set to premiere at 8 PM January 18. Check out the official trailer:
Related: Lifetime Greenlights ‘Flowers In The Attic’ Movie
Lifetime is further expanding the Project Runway franchise with Under The Gunn, a 13-episode new fashion series starring Project Runway co-host Tim Gunn, produced by Runway‘s Bunim/Murray and The Weinstein Co. and featuring Runway alumni. As for Gunn, who just won an Emmy with Runway co-host Heidi Klum, the new show, which premieres on January 16, does not mean a departure from the mothership series, on which he will carry on with his duties. This marks the third Project Runway offshoot on Lifetime, including Project Runway All Stars, now in its third season, and Project Accessory, which ran for one cycle. Read More »
Eva Longoria‘s UnbeliEVAble Entertainment has set up two more projects – a comedy at NBC and drama at Lifetime. The NBC project stars rising comedian Erik Rivera and is based on his life and standup. Comedy veteran Peter Murrieta will write the script and will executive produce with Scott Ellis, who is set to direct, and UnbeliEVAble’s Longoria and Ben Spector. The project stems from a deal UnbeliEVAble made with Rivera earlier this year to develop a vehicle based on his comedy. The setup is reminiscent of ABC’s The George Lopez Show, which also started with a well known actress, Sandra Bullock, championing a Latino comedian on the rise, Lopez, and partnering him with an established sitcom showrunner, Bruce Helford, for a comedy project starring Lopez and based on his standup. Rivera, repped by Ray Hughes Management and Loan Dang, is a familiar face to NBC brass — he was selected for the network’s Stand Up For Diversity college tour. Murrieta is with CAA and David Miner; Ellis with CAA.
The Lifetime drama, titled Blackout, is a small town soap written by Elle Triedman (Revenge). It centers on a woman whose failed career leads her to return home after 10 years to the small blue collar town run by her estranged siblings. She tries to make amends with her family and her … Read More »
Production is currently underway in Atlanta on a television adaptation of Tony-nominated Broadway revival The Trip To Bountiful. It’s set to premiere on Lifetime in 2014. Original cast members Cicely Tyson and Vanessa Williams star along with Blair Underwood (In Treatment) and Keke Palmer (CrazySexyCool). Trip To Bountiful tells the story of a woman’s quest to reconnect with her past in order to ensure her family’s future. Set during the final years of the Jim Crow South, it is the best-known work by Oscar-, Pulitzer- and Emmy-winning author Horton Foote. Michael Wilson, who directed the play, makes his television directorial debut with the project. Pic is produced by Ostar. Tyson, Bill Haber (The Fantasia Barrino Story: Life Is Not A Fairy Tale), Hallie Foote (Paranormal Activity 3) and Jeff Hayes (Rizzoli & Isles) are exec producers.
Michael Graziadei (American Horror Story), Lesley-Ann Brandt (Spartacus) and Louise Lombard (CSI) have been cast in Lifetime’s dystopian future drama pilot The Lottery, written by Timothy J. Sexton and directed by Danny Cannon. The Warner Horizon-produced conspiracy thriller is set in a world where women have stopped having children threatening extinction of the human race. When 100 embryos are successfully fertilized, a national lottery is held to decide the surrogates. Graziadei, repped by Gersh and Main Title, will play Kyle, a recovering alcoholic and single father of one of the last children born in the country. He was in ABC’s pilot Venice and appears in Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D.’s Thor crossover episode. Lesley-Ann Brandt, repped by Innovative Artists, LuberRoklin and Matt Rosen, will play Casey, a U.S. soldier longing for a child who jumps at the shot at being a surrogate by participating in the lottery. She has recurred on Single Ladies and the upcoming Killer Women and can be seen in Drift. Lombard plays Tori, a formerly free-spirited artist who is now a member of the Washington power elite, an accomplished writer and spinmeister who has the ear of the president. Read More »
There will be no third season of Jennifer Love Hewitt‘s Lifetime series The Client List. I hear it was a mutual decision between the network and producer Sony Pictures TV. While the show’s ratings slipped in Season 2 — from 2.7 million for the premiere to 2 million for the finale — I hear the reasons were mainly talent-related. As we reported in June, Lifetime and Sony TV were in a creative standoff with star Hewitt over storylines for a potential third season after the actress, who is an executive producer on the show, had requested that Brian Hallisay, her real-life fiance and father of her baby, also play her character Riley’s baby daddy on the show. I hear the issues eventually became too much for Lifetime and Sony TV, leading to today’s formal cancellation. Helping the decision is the fact that since the end of The Client List‘s second season, Lifetime successfully launched two new series: Devious Maids, which already has been renewed for a second season, and Witches Of East End, which will be. Lifetime also just picked up another season of Drop Dead Diva, which also is produced by Sony and whose ratings were on par with those for Client List, and has several pilots in production including HR starring Alicia Silverstone.
She keeps going! Lifetime’s comedic drama Drop Dead Diva has been picked up for a sixth season, and second post-cancellation with a 13-episode order. The pickup comes as Drop Dead Diva heads towards its fifth season finale on November 3. The renewal comes on the heels of Lifetime ending its longest-running drama Army Wives. Its other returning drama, The Client List, is yet to learn its fate but appears unlikely to continue. Freshman Devious Maids was renewed, with fellow newbie The Witches Of East End looking promising. Produced by Sony Pictures TV, Drop Dead Diva was created by Josh Berman who exec produces with Craig Zadan & Neil Meron and Robert J. Wilson. The series was briefly cancelled at the beginning of the year before receiving a fifth season pickup in March.
EXCLUSIVE: Natalie Zea, coming off roles on Fox’s The Following and CBS’ Under The Dome, has been tapped to star in the Amazon comedy pilot The Outlaws. Written by Jeremy Garelick and Jon Weinbach and directed by Jay Chandrasekhar, The Outlaws is about the ins and outs of a professional football team from the perspective of both the players and the back office. It centers on Julie Levine (Zea), the wife of a pro-football team owner who now needs to run the flailing organization after her husband dies. Zea, repped by UTA, manager Robert Semon and attorney Jamie Feldman, also recurs on FX’s Justified as Timothy Olyphant’s ex-wife. Read More »
Josh Kelly is set to co-star opposite Shiri Appleby in Lifetime’s drama pilot Unreal, inspired by Sarah Gertrude Shapiro’s award-winning independent short Sequin Raze. Marti Noxon and Shapiro wrote Unreal, which goes behind the scenes of a hit competition dating show to follow the experiences of Rachel (Appleby), a young staffer whose sole job is to manipulate her relationships with (and among) the contestants to heighten the drama. Kelly, repped by Talentworks and Thruline, will play Jeremy, a cameraman on the dating show who also is Rachel’s ex-boyfriend. He previously did an arc on Lifetime’s Army Wives and just wrapped Universal’s Recon.
Grainger Hines (AMC’s Hell On Wheels) has been cast in Cinemax‘s 10-part series The Knick, directed by Steven Soderbergh and starring Clive Owen. Set in downtown New York in 1900, The Knick centers on Knickerbocker Hospital and the groundbreaking surgeons, nurses and staff who push the bounds of medicine in a time of astonishingly high mortality rates and zero antibiotics. Hines will play Captain August Robertson, a self-made shipping magnate, who has used his fortune to keep the doors of the hospital open to the many poor immigrants who have arrived in New York on his ships. He installed his daughter Cornelia (Juliet Rylance) on the Board of Directors and together they are using his money to … Read More »