EXCLUSIVE: Hallmark Channel has greenlighted The Good Witch, a 10-episode original scripted series based on the network’s very successful movie franchise. The series will star Catherine Bell, reprising her role of raven-haired enchantress Cassie Nightingale from the TV movies. The series is slated for a premiere in Q1 2015, following the debut of the seventh movie in the franchise, The Good Witch’s Wonder on October 25. Hallmark Channel had been mulling the idea of a Good Witch series for awhile but couldn’t proceed without Bell who only recently became available for a regular gig following the end of her long-running Lifetime drama Army Wives. “From the moment the first film in The Good Witch series premiered, we knew audiences would fall in love with Catherine Bell and this character and want to see more of her,” said Michelle Vicary, EVP, Hallmark Channel and Hallmark Movie Channel. “Catherine has been one of the most sought after talents in our industry, and now she has a weekly home on Hallmark Channel.”
The Good Witch, a Whizbang Films Production, is executive produced by the movie franchise’s producers Orly Adelson, Jonathan Eskenas, Frank Siracusa and Craig Pryce, who directed the films based on characters by Rod Spence. Bell is co-executive producer. ITV Studios America, which Adelson recently joined as president, will distribute the series outside of North America. At Hallmark, The Good Witch joins … Read More »
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. Read More »
EXCLUSIVE: Army Wives star Catherine Bell is set to headline the TNT movie Good Morning, Killer, an adaptation of April Smith’s novel. The thriller follows FBI Special Agent Ana Gray (Bell) as she hunts for a kidnapper. It is the latest entry in the network’s recently announced new TNT Tuesday Night Mystery movie franchise slated to launch in November that will feature six contemporary crime dramas, from true-crime stories to fictional mysteries. And I have heard that at least some some of the movies, including Good Morning, Killer, are being eyed as potential backdoor pilots that could spawn TV series as the actors deals for them include series options. The contracts of the cast members of Army Wives, including Bell, are up after the upcoming sixth season. Smith adapted her book to the small screen. She also is executive producing the movie with Frank von Zerneck (We Were the Mulvaneys). Bell, repped by Gersh and Brillstein, previously starred on CBS’ JAG.
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. Read More »