OWN Orders ‘Belief’ Series That Explores Search For Meaning & First TV Film Starring Toni Braxton As Darlene Love, Picks Up More Tyler Perry, Sets Octavia Spencer Mini
OWN: Oprah Winfrey Network announced today six-time Grammy-winning artist and actress Toni Braxton is set to star as Darlene Love in the network’s first scripted TV film My Name Is Love: The Darlene Love Story. In addition, superstar Justin Timberlake will kick off a star-studded new season of Oprah’s Master Class on May 11, and Oscar-winning actress Octavia Spencer will star in a two-night event mini-series Tulsa (working title) currently in development.
The network also announced today a groundbreaking seven-part television event Belief presented by Oprah Winfrey, which explores humankind’s search for meaning and connection. Also, Tyler Perry’s popular drama series The Haves And The Have Nots and previously announced new series Single Moms Club (working title) each have received 20-episode orders. Here’s a look at the shows:
OWN said today that the upcoming fifth season of documentary series Our America With Lisa Ling will be its last. The cancellation is a significant because of Our America‘s place in OWN’s history. Premiering in February 2011, Our America was part of the network’s inaugural slate of unscripted series aimed at empowering women and helping them better their lives. It was the only show of the bunch not hosted by Winfrey to draw a sizable audience while OWN was going through major growing pains and the only one to make it that far. During OWN’s dark early months of big ratings struggles, Our America carried the torch with solid ratings and critical response. OWN finally scored a second hit in late 2011 with Welcome To Sweetie Pie’s, which signaled a turn to entertainment fare, often targeting black audiences. That trend was cemented by the mega-deal with Tyler Perry, whose scripted series are now the backbone of OWN. Acknowledging Our America‘s contributions to OWN, both of the network’s presidents spoke of the series’ exit. “Over the past three years, Our America has cast a bright light into dark places, raised awareness of some of our country’s most controversial issues and provided a voice to those who are often not heard,” said OWN President Sheri Salata. Added OWN President Erik Logan, “Lisa Ling’s top-notch journalistic work is the best in the industry, and we can’t wait to see her soar in her next chapter.”
Lindsay is premiering this Sunday at 10 PM, and OWN has unveiled the 2-minute promo that TV critics attending Winter TV Press Tour 2014 got to see in January. Last July, Oprah Winfrey’s OWN network scored a big one when it signed train-wreck Lindsay Lohan to an eight-episode docu-series following her as she tried to stay sober and re-launch her career after a court-ordered rehab stint; it was part of a deal that also included Lohan’s post-rehab interview special on Oprah’s Next Chapter. The docu-series, directed by filmmaker Amy Rice (By The People: The Election of Barack Obama ), taped in August.
“There’s nothing left in having a drink for me. There’s no party I haven’t gone to, nobody I haven’t hung out with, no situation I haven’t been exposed to,” 27-year-old Lohan tells the camera as she swans here and there.
OWN continues to expand it scripted slate, acquiring the rights to Darlene Love’s memoir My Name Is Love: The Darlene Love Story, to adapt into the network’s first original TV movie. Pic will be executive produced by Oprah Winfrey and Oscar-nommed filmmaker Morgan Neville. Love also will exec produce.
Love was recently featured in the Oscar nominated docu film Twenty Feet From Stardom directed by Neville, which puts a spotlight on backup singers for some of music’s biggest acts. OWN also has licensed the first broadcast window to air Twenty Feet From Stardom beginning in 2015.
Once again, soap opera lawsuits are vexing ABC. Having been hit with a now $125 million breach of contract suit by Prospect Park over licensed soaps All My Children and One Life To Live, the network also faces a legal action from one of the soaps’ former writers. Requesting a trial and claiming he is owed more than $50,000 in royalties from OLTL being played on iTunes, Hulu and OWN, Allison “Sam” Hall this week slapped ABC with a complaint in New York Supreme Court (read it here). Hall served as co-lead writer on OLTL from November 1984 to mid-1985. Because he “created and developed the story line and numerous characters in the series,” Hall says his deal with the network ensured that he would be paid weekly royalties of $1,000 a week “as long as the ONE LIFE TO LIVE series is broadcast.”
OLTL ceased airing on ABC in early January 2012 but the network had licensed the show in late 2011 to Rich Frank and Jeff Kwatinetz’s Prospect Park for new online episodes as well as a 10-week showing on OWN. Those 30-minutes episodes launched in April of last year. Though the new digital OLTL was suspended after 40 episodes and PP and ABC have been locked in a legal battle over alleged broken agreements and claims of sabotage since last spring.
TV critics attending Winter TV Press Tour 2014 got a sneak peek at Lindsay – OWN’s upcoming Lindsay Lohan docu-series set to premiere March 9. “There’s nothing left in having a drink for me. There’s no party I haven’t gone to, nobody I haven’t hung out with, no situation I haven’t been exposed to,” Lohan tells the camera as she swans here and there. “I don’t want them following me to an AA meeting,” she says of the paparazzi. Asked if she feels like a prisoner, she responds, “Yes – all the time.”
Cut to Mom and Dad Lohan showing up for their close-ups. Mom is thrilled to have a camera trained on her as she gushes how happy she is that Lindsay is back in New York. Dad is the catalyst for one of those classic Lindsay “thing in my head says, ‘Oh, it’s time to sabotage” moment.
OWN Orders Another Tyler Perry Scripted Series, Sets Lindsay Lohan Reality Series Premiere For March 9
On the heels of the record-breaking Season 2 premiere of Tyler Perry’s OWN drama series The Have And The Have Nots, Oprah Winfrey‘s network has picked up the fourth Tyler Perry series and second drama in its collaboration with the prolific writer-producer-director, announcing Single Moms Club based on his upcoming feature film will premiere in the fall. The one-hour drama, which centers on a group of single women from different walks of life who form a support group following an incident at their children’s school, is written, directed and produced by Perry as part of his producing deal with OWN. The first two series under the pact, drama The Have And Have Nots and comedy Love Thy Neighbor, have helped OWN’s ratings turnaround – most recently, the Season 2 debut of The Haves And The Have Nots smashed its own ratings and viewership records Tuesday with 2.8 million tuning in — making it the No. 1 season premiere in OWN’s 3-year-plus history and the third-most-watched program ever on the network. (OWN also picked up a third season of Perry’s comedy For Better Or Worse, which started on TBS.) Lionsgate releases the Single Moms Club feature on March 14 with Perry and Nia Long starring. (watch trailer below) OWN today also set a premiere date for Lindsay, the eight-part reality series starring Lindsay Lohan, who brokered the series along with a post-rehab interview special on Oprah’s Next Chapter back in July. Lindsay will follow the actress’ life after that rehab stint and premieres March 9 at 10 PM.
OWN also said today that Deion’s Family Playbook, which follows the family life of former NFL star Deion Sanders, will premiere March 1 at 10 PM, and Love In The City, about four friends living in New York, will debut April 12 at 10 PM. Here is the network’s descriptions of the new shows:
Turns out Tyler Perry’s For Better Or Worse is definitely the former and not the latter on its new home on OWN. Having left TBS and moved over to OWN now, the Season 3 premiere of the Perry produced and directed sitcom gave the Oprah Winfrey Network its most watched Wednesday night in the outlet’s almost three-year history with 1.124 million. That was driven mostly by the 9 PM third cycle debut drew 1.5 million total viewers and the 9:30 PM episode pulled in 1.6 million viewers with 1.23 and 1.29 ratings respectively among women 25-54. The previous Wednesday high for OWN was May 29, 2013 when the network got 1.092 million. That was the same night Perry’s comedy Love Thy Neighbor debuted on OWN. For Better Or Worse joins Perry’s drama The Haves And The Have Nots as well as Love Thy Neighbor on the network.