Lifetime is dusting itself off with House Of Anubis actress Alex Shipp, who will now rock the boat in the network’s high-profile biopic of the late R&B singer Aaliyah.
Producers had to scramble when original star Zendaya pulled out of the project last month. Now filming’s back on track to start later this month according to talk show host and author Wendy Williams, who first tweeted the Shipp news this morning along with the announcement that she’s boarded the film as executive producer alongside Debra M. Chase. Read More »
Ahead of its Season 1 finale next Tuesday, Lifetime has picked up Little Women: LA for a second season. It follows longtime girlfriends Terra Jole, Tonya Banks, Elena Gant, Christy McGinity, Briana Manson and Traci Harrison as they laugh, cry, compete and fight with one another, but share a special unbreakable bond — and prove that height is just a number.
Since its May 27th launch, season-to-date Little Women: LA has seen a +66% leap among Total Viewers vs premiere, +104% in Women 18-49, +95% with Adults 18-49, +87% in Women 25-54 and +79% in Adults 25-54. Last week’s episode of Little Women: LA reached a series high 1.4 million Total Viewers. Read More »
Lifetime has ordered drama pilot The Clan Of The Cave Bear based on Jean M. Auel’s Earth’s Children novels. The project, targeted for a potential 2015 launch, is being produced by Fox 21 and Lionsgate in association with Imagine Television and Allison Shearmur Productions. Ron Howard and Brian Grazer are exec producing along with Allison Shearmur (The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, Cinderella), Linda Woolverton (Maleficent, The Lion King), Francie Calfo (Gang Related, Empire) and Jean M. Auel. Woolverton is writing the pilot.
The first book in the series, The Clan Of The Cave Bear, takes place at a time in prehistory more than 25,000 years ago when Neanderthals shared the Earth with the first early modern humans and a band of cave dwellers adopt blond and blue-eyed Ayla, a child of the “Others.” As Ayla matures into a young woman of spirit and courage, she must fight for survival against the jealous bigotry of Broud, who will one day be clan leader.
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Lifetime has ordered eight episodes of Undone With @AmandadeCadenet, for premiere July 24 at 10:30 PM. The live half-hour female-driven weekly talk series, hosted by The Conversation‘s Amanda de Cadenet, will explore hot topics trending in pop culture and feature interviews with celebrities or newsmakers, the network said today.
De Cadenet executive produced and hosted the 2012 Lifetime and web series The Conversation which featured in-depth interviews with some of the world’s most influential women, including Jane Fonda, Lady Gaga, and Gwyneth Paltrow.
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Pint-size performer Asia Monet Ray, who made a huge YouTube splash with her athletic dance routines before appearing on Dance Moms and Abby’s Ultimate Dance Competition, both on Lifetime, will get a spinoff show of her own on the network, Raising Asia, a docuseries featuring the eight-year-old and her mother, Kristie.
The series will debut on Lifetime on July 29, and feature 14 half-hour episodes of the eight-year-old singer/dancer and her model mother, bodybuilder father and younger sister. The show will be produced by Dance Moms producer Collins Avenue, with Jeff Collins, Michael Hammond, Sandi Johnson, Bryan Stinson, Leola Westbrook, Eli Lehrer, Mary Donahue and Kimberly Chessler as executive producers.
The planned Lifetime biopic of late singer Aaliyah is on hold after Disney star Zendaya pulled out of the project, the network announced in a brief tweet from its PR wing (and retweet from @LifetimeTV):
The project was to be the third in a string of tragic music biopics that Lifetime had lined up, after ones focusing on Whitney Houston and TLC star Lisa “Left Eye” Lopes, both female singers who died young. In the case of Aaliyah, the R&B star was killed at age 22 in a plane crash as she was returning to the U.S. after recording a music video in the Bahamas. The movie was to be based on a bestselling book, Aaliyah: More Than A Woman by former Time magazine music editor Christopher Farley. The movie, with the working title of Aaliyah: Princess Of R&B, was to be filmed this summer, with a fall premiere scheduled.
And three makes a trend: Lifetime announced today that Disney star Zendaya will play the late R&B star Aaliyah in a biopic about the singer, who died in a plane crash at age 22. Based on the bestseller Aaliyah: More Than A Woman by former Time magazine music editor Christopher Farley, Aaliyah: Princess Of R&B (wt), will be filmed this summer and premiere in the fall.
Related: Lifetime Sets Whitney Houston Biopic Directed By Angela Bassett
Three weeks ago, the network announced it had greenlighted a biopic on Whitney Houston, who died in 2012, at age 48, while prepping in the Beverly Hills Hilton hotel for a pre-Grammy party. Both Lifetime biopics about female R&B/pop singers who died young follow VH1′s October premiere of its gone-too-soon movie CrazySexyCool: The TLC Story, detailing the fatal blow to TLC caused by the sudden death of Lisa “Left Eye” Lopes at 30. That one clocked a hefty 4.5 million viewers in its unveiling.
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Once a broadcast network rejects a TV pilot it has shot, it’s not common that the show will go on to live a second life on another network. Such was the fate of Marc Cherry‘s Devious Maids, the second series he developed with ABC following his Sunday cornerstone Desperate Housewives. It seemed like a surefire programming choice for the alphabet network’s fall 2012 season. But in June 2012, network executives’ minds changed. Here Cherry recounts the resuscitation of Devious Maids on Lifetime, how the show became a flagship for Latino actresses and the longevity of dramedies, such as his previous hit Desperate Housewives, at the Emmys.
DEADLINE: How did Devious Maids come together? What sparked your interest in adapting the Mexican soap opera Ellas son…la Alegria del Hogar?
MARC CHERRY: I got a call from my agent that this consortium of producers known as Oasis Entertainment. They buy different formats from countries around the world. They had this show about maids from Mexico and they brought it to me thinking I could do the American version. I took a look at it. They showed me a five minute sizzle reel to catch me up to speed on the show, and it looked a lot like Desperate Housewives, so I actually passed because I already did this show. A few days went by and I kept thinking about the show and it brought back a lot of memories when I was working in Bel-Air as Dixie Carter’s personal assistant. I would go to her home every day, Monday-Friday, and I was 25, so I had just moved to Hollywood. And it was interesting, because it was the first time in my life, having grown up upper middle class in Orange County, that I was the help, for lack of a better phrase. There were a lot of people working in her home – there were two housekeepers, a cook, a chauffeur, a yoga instructor – actually a comically, crazy household that deserves its own sitcom. It was an entertaining place to be. I love Hal Holbrook and Dixie, they were dear to me. It started a full circle thing in my head, and many years have past, and now I have people who work in my home. I’ve seen these issues from both sides, there’s nothing quite like working in someone’s home because you are exposed to the most intimate parts of their life. It’s not a workplace like an office building, college or police station. It’s something more intimate and delicate. I thought, ‘I have a perspective on this.’ Read More »
Lifetime started expanding into unscripted programming in mid-2010 when Nancy Dubuc took over the network, known until then for TV movies and female-skewing drama series. It took a few years for reality series to get traction and viewers to begin associating Lifetime with such programming, with the 2011 Dance Moms as the only breakout. Things picked up last year after the hire of Bravo’s Eli Lehrer as head of non-fiction development. Lifetime’s unscripted slate took hold, producing such new hits as Bring It! and True Tori, and now drives the network’s ratings growth at a lower price point than scripted fare.
So it is not surprising that Lifetime has picked up four new unscripted programs: Born In The Wild, a series about natural child birth in the wild; the complete makeover series Girlfriend Intervention; the docu-sitcom Kosher Soul, which follows hip-hop tastemaker O’Neal McKnight and his fiancée, celebrity stylist Miriam Sternoff; and the reality-competition show Threads, from the producers of Project Runway and featuring Vanessa Simmons and Christian Siriano, in which skilled teen and tween fashion designers showcase their gift for style.
Related: Lifetime Orders ‘Child Genius’ Competition Docuseries
Additionally, Lifetime has put three unscripted projects in development: the extreme dental makeover show Smile; the competition-reality series Worst Stylist Ever, which pits America’s most feared hair stylists against one another; and Ugly Models, a docu-series from rock icon Gene Simmons, Jon Murray, Jeff Jenkins and Gil Goldschein that looks at the world’s leading modeling agency focused on representing unusual looking people. “As we continue to raise the bar across all of our programming, unscripted is playing an important role in placing Lifetime in the cultural zeitgeist and introducing the network to the next generation of our viewers,” said Lifetime general manager Rob Sharenow. Here are descriptions of Lifetime newly picked up reality series and projects in development:
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Online video company Jukin Media named former Lifetime and MTV unscripted-TV executive Jessica Samet to head an expanded push into more traditional TV production. The company specializes in finding, acquiring and promoting viral videos online, and in turn licensing its content to video outlets online and in more traditional TV programming. Samet will be charged with developing TV formats around the company’s thousands of video clips and other content. Samet formerly was MTV’s SVP Development and Programming, where she helped develop Jackass, WildBoyz, and Viva La Bam. She also was SVP Reality Programming at Lifetime. Read More »
EXCLUSIVE: Constance Zimmer (House Of Cards, The Newsroom, Entourage) has been cast as a lead opposite Shiri Appleby in Lifetime’s darkly comedic drama series Un-Real, which gives a behind-the-scenes look at the chaos surrounding the production of a competition dating reality series. She will play the dispassionate executive producer of the unscripted show, replacing Magyn Price, who played the role in the pilot. The 10-episodes series, from Marti Noxon and Sarah Gertrude Shapiro, is inspired by Shapiro’s short film Sequin Raze. It centers on Rachel (Appleby), a young staffer whose sole job is to manipulate her relationships with and among the contestants to get the vital dramatic and outrageous footage the program’s executive producer (Zimmer) demands. Read More »
The Television Academy, by splitting miniseries and movies for the 2014 contest, has made it easier this year for the made-for-TV movie to compete. Outside of the occasional HBO film, the genre is usually at a disadvantage at the Emmys. Forced to face off directly with the more lavish miniseries form, these two-hour one-offs have had a difficult time holding their own. (Acting, directing and writing categories are still combined for minis/movies). Occasionally a movie comes along that is so irresistible to TV Academy voters that it can’t be ignored. That was the case last year with HBO’s Behind the Candelabra, which swept both Primetime and Creative Arts Emmy ceremonies. In 2011, another HBO telefilm, Game Change, had similar success against the longform monsters, but it has not always been easy to beat the odds.
With those two wins, TV movies are enjoying a bit of a renaissance—at least at HBO, which once again has the 800-pound gorilla in the race with Ryan Murphy’s adaptation of Larry Kramer’s play, The Normal Heart. The time finally seems right for this drama set in the early days of the AIDS crisis. Written 30 years ago and long in development as a feature film and then TV movie, this provocative and moving study about the human and political consequences of the HIV/AIDS outbreak finally found its way in front of the cameras, thanks in large part to Murphy, who promised the 78-year-old Kramer this movie would happen. In the same year that another decades-in-development-hell drama about the early struggle against AIDS, Dallas Buyers Club, won three Academy Awards—including best and supporting actor statuettes—it seems like kismet-style timing for a Normal Heart Emmy run. The fact that the TV movie still remains relevant and timely enhances the chances of a big win, and its backstory of a long and troubled road to the screen will only help it with voters. Kramer’s well-documented journey with the material should make him a frontrunner in the writing category, and Murphy has a good shot in directing. A superb cast also should score major nominations, including Mark Ruffalo for miniseries/movie lead actor, Julia Roberts (as a polio-stricken doctor) in supporting actress, and a plethora of supporting actors, including Jim Parsons, Joe Mantello (both appeared in the 2011 Broadway revival of the play), Taylor Kitsch, Alfred Molina and Matt Bomer, who in particular really socks home the role of The New York Times writer who becomes an early victim of the virus. Read More »
Lifetime has greenlighted Whitney Houston (working title), an original movie about the tragic music superstar who died in 2012. Helmed by Angela Bassett in her directorial debut, Whitney Houston is set for a 2015 premiere. It chronicles the tumultuous relationship between Houston and singer-songwriter Bobby Brown — from the time they first met at the very height of their celebrity through their courtship and rocky marriage, all during Whitney’s meteoric rise as a singer, actress and model. “I have such regard for both Whitney’s and Bobby’s amazing talents and accomplishments, and I feel a responsibility in the telling of their story,” said Bassett. “Their humanity and bond fascinates us all.” Produced by The Sanitsky Co., Whitney Houston comes from executive producer Larry Sanitsky and writer Shem Bitterman, the team behind Lifetime’s 2013 movie Betty & Coretta. That telepic told the dual real-life stories of Coretta Scott King (Bassett) and Dr. Betty Shabazz (Mary J. Blige).
Low Winter Sun alumna Athena Karkanis has been cast in Lifetime‘s conspiracy thriller The Lottery. Produced by Warner Horizon, the 10-episode series is set in a dystopian future when women have stopped having children, threatening extinction of the human race. Karkanis, repped by Greene & Associates and Sanders Armstrong Caserta & Noble Talent in Canada, will play Vanessa (fka Tori) who has earned her job and risen through the political ranks all the way to chief of staff to the POTUS. Tim Sexton wrote the pilot and will executive produce the series with Dawn Olmstead. Danny Cannon directed and executive produced the pilot, from Grady Girl Prods in association with Warner Horizon TV.
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Think you have the brightest child in the U.S.? You may have a chance to find out. Lifetime has ordered eight episodes of new competition docuseries Child Genius, for premiere later this year. Based on the popular UK format, Child Genius centers on some of America’s most extraordinary and gifted children and their families as they prepare for a national intelligence competition. In cooperation with American MENSA, the competition will take place over several weeks this summer and will test America’s best young minds on their knowledge of logic, current affairs, history, memory, science, spelling, math and debate. At the end, one amazing kid will be named Child Genius 2014. Nationwide casting is currently underway. Child Genius is produced by Shed Media US. Pam Healey, John Hesling and Dan Snook serve as executive producers, along with Lifetime’s Eli Lehrer, Mary Donahue and David Hillman.
On the eve of the spring finale of Lifetime‘s Bring It!, the network has ordered ten additional episodes of the Pilgrim Studios-produced docu-series that focuses on the elite world of hip-hop majorette competitions. The new episodes are slated to premiere this summer. Lifetime also will air the hour-long bonus episode Bring It! Miss D Breaks It Down on May 7 at 10 PM. Hosted by Kim Coles (Living Single), it will feature a look back at the memorable moments from the program’s season. Since its March 5th launch, Bring It! has seen a +73% jump among Total Viewers versus premiere, +86% in Women 25-54, +72% in Adults 25-54, +71% in Women 18-49 and +65% with Adults 18-49. Bring It!‘s season finale airs tomorrow night at 10 PM.