EXCLUSIVE: Army Wives star Catherine Bell has signed a new two-year deal with ABC Studios, which produces the veteran Lifetime drama series. The deal is qualified as a talent holding one as Army Wives has not been officially renewed beyond the current supersized sixth season. It would cover Bell’s services on the show for two more seasons, and I hear it includes a big salary bump from the actress’ current paycheck, which is in the high five figures per episode. While yet to pull the trigger on a Season 7, Lifetime has been actively exploring its options, including applying for the California TV tax credit lottery, which will be held Friday. I hear keeping the show in South Carolina for one more season and moving production to Los Angeles for two more seasons are among the discussed scenarios. None of the original cast members of Army Wives have deals beyond Season 6, and locking in Bell is a major step towards a potential renewal. READ MORE »
EXCLUSIVE: Lifetime has picked up 10 more episodes of its flagship drama Army Wives. The series is currently in production on its 13-episode sixth-season order. I hear Lifetime’s decision to stockpile more episodes was made now so the show could stay in continuous production. It comes after both of the network’s new series launched this past summer, The Protector and Against The Wall, underperformed. By not branding the pickup as a new season, Lifetime can have all original cast members locked in. The actresses don’t have deals beyond Season 6 but their contracts requires them to do all episodes produced, which would include a 23-episode sixth season.
The 23-episode order will likely be split into two batches but, from a contractual standpoint, Lifetime could make the stars of the show return for the 10 episodes at their current salary. While legal, such a move is generally frowned upon. I hear that Lifetime, which is currently deficit financing the ABC Studios/Mark Gordon Co-produced Army Wives, has offered the main cast members a raise of $10,000 per episode. That represents an increase of 10%-20% for the actresses, whose salaries vary but are all in the 5-figure range, but is far less than what they would get if they have to negotiate new contracts for a seventh season.
EXCLUSIVE: Lifetime, which has built its original movie brand with biopics and films based on headline-making true stories, is venturing into the action thriller genre with Close Quarters, a telefilm from producer Gale Anne Hurd and Sony TV. Lifetime star Catherine Bell (Army Wives) toplines the movie, about Abby, a happy suburban wife and mother who has been concealing her dark past as a military-trained special-ops agent. But when her husband is mysteriously kidnapped, Abby’s past returns to haunt her and she must risk everything to protect her daughter and save the man she loves. “It’s turning her role in Army Wives on its head – in this she is a capable special ops agent with a military background and expertise in technology who holds her ground in the action area,” Hurd said, adding that the film for the first time will showcase Bell’s extensive martial arts training.