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Lifetime Picks Up Reality Series About Soldiers’ Family Reunions, TLC Has One Too

Nellie Andreeva

UPDATED: Lifetime is pairing its flagship drama Army Wives with a reality series featuring real-life army wives and kids as well as the solders forced to leave them behind when called to duty. The cable network has ordered 13 hourlong episodes from Coming Home, which chronicles five surprise and emotional reunions between U.S. soldiers and their families. Coming Home, hosted by former American Idol finalist Matt Rogers, will debut on March 6, following the fifth season premiere of Army Wives.

Coming Home should not be confused with TLC’s reality series Homecoming, announced in November, which has the same exact premise and country star Billy Ray Cyrus as host. TLC’s three-episode series has no premiere date yet and is expected to debut after the Lifetime’s Coming Home.

Both shows are tapping into the online phenomenon that videos of military family reunions have grown into. (A compilation posed below.) Coming Home is produced by RelativityREAL, with Tom Forman, the producer behind another reality tearjerker, ABC’s Extreme Makeover: Home Edition, and Star Price executive producing. Read More »

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CABLE NOTES: ‘Memphis Beat’ Looks Good For Renewal, ‘Army Wives’ Spinoff A No-Go, ‘Facing Kate’ Order Trimmed

Nellie Andreeva

- TNT’s freshman Memphis Beat looks promising for a second-season renewal, though there is no official pickup yet. The network is expected to make the decision within the next few days. Despite being overshadowed by the blockbuster launch of fellow freshman TNT drama Rizzoli & Isles, which received an early renewal, the off-beat Memphis Beat created by Liz Garcia and Joshua Harto and starring Jason Lee has developed a fan base, attracting an average of 4.5 million viewers for its 10-episode first-season run.
- Over at Lifetime, the network has passed on the Army Wives spinoff, whose pilot aired as an episode of the series this season. The spinoff, starring Brigid Brannagh and Gabrielle Union as Atlanta detectives, got a lot of attention recently following Deadline’s story about Wives executive producer Mark Gordon’s use of racial slur during the backdoor pilot’s table read. Meanwhile, renewal talks for the mothership series between Lifetime and producer ABC Studios are ongoing.
- And USA has cut the order for upcoming series Facing Kate from 12 to 10 episodes because of scheduling reasons. The series, originally slated for a Q4 debut, will now launch in Q1 2011.

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Producer Mark Gordon Uses N-Word Twice At TV Pilot Table Read: Lifetime Notifies ABC Studios “This Needs To Be Dealt With”

Producers Guild Co-Prez Mark Gordon Apologizes To Board

EXCLUSIVE: I’ve learned that Lifetime formally notified Disney’s ABC Studios that prominent TV and film producer Mark Gordon six weeks ago used the word “nigger” twice during a table read of the pilot for the Army Wives spinoff. He did it in front of cast and crew — including two African-American actresses, pilot lead Gabrielle Union and Army Wives series regular Wendy Davis. “Lifetime took all appropriate steps and notified the studio that this is a situation that needs to be dealt with,” an executive tells me.

In turn, a ABC exec informs me, “it was dealt with appropriately. I can’t go beyond that.”

Gordon issued this statement to me: “I feel terrible about this. It was a stupid lapse in judgment. I didn’t meant [sic] to offend anyone, and I’ve apologized to everyone involved.”

Gordon, who is white, has a deal with ABC Studios. He not only is executive producer of Army Wives and one of ABC Studios’ busiest TV producers, but also executive producer of the series Grey’s Anatomy and Private Practice with African American showrunner Shonda Rhimes. It was ABC Studios that first put them together because Rhimes had no showrunner experience. As a film producer, Gordon has worked with Steven Spielberg on Saving Private Ryan, Roland Emmerich on 10,000 BC, Mel Gibson on The Patriot, and Keanu Reeves and Sandra Bullock on Speed.

I’ve confirmed these details: At the table read, there was a … Read More »

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