As part of an aggressive expansion to grow its original programming stable, Lifetime today unveiled its 2011-12 programming slate featuring a powerful line-up of two all-new scripted dramas, doubling Lifetime’s number of scripted series from two to four; pick-ups of 11 unscripted programs representing more than triple the amount of reality hours on the network, including Project Runway All Stars and Project Accessory, the interview series The Conversation from executive producers Demi Moore and Amanda de Cadenet; and the weight loss/relationship program Love Handles from producer SallyAnn Salsano; as well as plans for 24 new original movies across Lifetime and Lifetime Movie Network. Movies slated include, to name a few, Nora Roberts’ Carnal Innocence, Magic Beyond Words: The J.K. Rowling Story, two action films from producer Gale Anne Hurd, a biopic of Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton, and Project Five, directed by Jennifer Aniston, Demi Moore, Alicia Keys and Patty Jenkins.
In addition, Lifetime has renewed its hit drama series Army Wives for a sixth season with a 13 episode order and ordered the drama pilot Modern Love from writer/executive producer Jenny Bicks.
Regarding the announcement, Nancy Dubuc, President and General Manager of Lifetime Networks, said, “We have made great strides over the last year shaping our programming strategy to partner with proven producers and talent on quality dramas, reality series and movies. This diverse slate built upon great stories and characters is the right mix of bold, confident and relevant programming viewers can expect from Lifetime.”
Highlighting the network’s scripted growth are the summer 2011 launches of the character-based procedural dramas The Protector (formerly Exit 19) and Against the Wall. The Protector centers on divorced mother Gloria Sheppard (Ally Walker, Sons of Anarchy, Profiler), who juggles her demanding personal and professional life as an intuitive LAPD homicide detective while raising two boys with the help of her troubled younger brother Davey (Chris Payne Gilbert, Dexter, Bones). Co-starring Tisha Campbell-Martin (Rita Rocks, My Wife and Kids) as Gloria’s partner and Miguel Ferrer (Crossing Jordan, Traffic) as their boss, The Protector is from ABC Studios and CBS Television Studios. Writer Jeffrey Bell (V), Nina Wass (Less than Perfect) and Gene Stein (Accidentally on Purpose) executive produce. In Against the Wall, starring Rachael Carpani (The Glades, NCIS: Los Angeles), Treat Williams (127 Hours, Everwood) and Emmy® and Golden Globe® Award winner Kathy Baker (Picket Fences, Medium), loyalty is put to the test when Chicago police detective Abby Kowalski (Carpani) causes a rift within her close knit, blue collar family of cops when she decides to join the department’s Internal Affairs division. Nancy Miller (Saving Grace, CSI: Miami) executive produces the series from Universal Cable Productions, with creator/writer Annie Brunner (Saving Grace, Huff) serving as supervising producer.
Lifetime’s comedic-drama Drop Dead Diva, featuring breakout star Brooke Elliott (Wicked) and Margaret Cho (Ghost Whisperer), is set to return for its third season on Sunday, June 19. The critical-darling tells the story of a shallow wannabe model who dies in a sudden accident, only to find her soul resurfacing in the body of a brilliant, plus-size and recently deceased attorney. Produced by Sony Pictures Television, Drop Dead Diva also stars Jackson Hurst (Living Proof), Kate Levering (Cashmere Mafia), April Bowlby (Two and a Half Men), Josh Stamberg (Lie to Me) and Ben Feldman (The Perfect Man), and is executive produced by its creator Josh Berman (Bones), as well as Craig Zadan and Neil Meron (Chicago) and Alex Taub (Eli Stone).
Army Wives, the number one drama on cable among Women 18-49 currently averaging 3.7 million Total Viewers in its fifth season, follows the struggles, dreams and friendships of a diverse group of women and one man living with their spouses and families on an active army post. The series stars Kim Delaney (NYPD Blue), Sally Pressman (My Best Friends’ Girl), Brigid Brannagh (Kindred: The Embraced), Brian McNamara (Billionaire Boys Club), Sterling K. Brown (Starved), Wendy Davis (High Incident), Drew Fuller (Charmed), Terry Serpico (Rescue Me) and Catherine Bell (Lifetime’s Last Man Standing). Produced by ABC Studios and The Mark Gordon Company, Army Wives is executive produced by Mark Gordon (Grey’s Anatomy), Deborah Spera (Criminal Minds) and Jeff Melvoin (Alias).
To further grow its scripted slate, Lifetime has ordered the drama pilot Modern Love, which follows newspaper science editor Simon McElvane as he faces a deteriorating marriage, the ramifications of potentially starting over and balancing his relationship with his adopted 15-year-old daughter. Unexpectedly handed the job of editor of the newspaper’s Modern Love column, Simon discovers he has a lot to learn about life and love. The show will weave in actual column stories, optioned from the New York Times, and will explore the state of our complicated and modern relationships. Created and executive produced by Emmy and Golden Globe Award-winner Jenny Bicks (The Big C, Sex and the City). Bicks executive produces with Gail Berman, Lloyd Braun, Gene Stein and Alan Poul (Six Feet Under, Swingtown). The pilot will be produced by Sony Pictures Television and BermanBraun.
In the unscripted arena, Lifetime’s Emmy nominated hit series Project Runway, 2010’s number one competitive reality program on ad-supported cable among Women and Households, will return for its ninth season this summer. Hosted by Heidi Klum, Project Runway provides budding designers with an opportunity to launch their careers in fashion under the watchful eyes of mentor Tim Gunn and judges Michael Kors and Nina Garcia. The program is produced by The Weinstein Company, Miramax Films, Bunim-Murray Productions and Full Picture Productions, and executive produced by Harvey Weinstein, Bob Weinstein, Meryl Poster, Barbara Schneeweiss, Jon Murray (The Real World), Sara Rea (The Real World), Heidi Klum, Desiree Gruber and Jane Cutler.
Bolstered by Project Runway, its recently renewed hospital docu-drama One Born Every Minute and surprise military personnel reunion show Coming Home, Lifetime will see a threefold increase in reality programming in 2011-12 with the pick-ups of:
* The real-life series Vanished with Beth Holloway, launching next Monday, May 9, a one-hour docu-reality program hosted by Beth Holloway exploring true mysteries of families who have been victimized by unsolved abductions, disappearances and unspeakable crimes. Lifetime has ordered 10 one-hour episodes of the program, which is produced by Jupiter Entertainment with Stephen Land (City Confidential, Sons of Guns) serving as executive producer. Vanished with Beth Holloway will debut after the world premiere of the original movie Justice for Natalee Holloway.
* Love Handles, set to launch in May, an hour-long docu-series from executive producer SallyAnn Salsano (Jersey Shore) featuring a dual transformation of overweight couples as they attempt to save their lives and relationships by confronting what lies at the core of the emotional, dietary and physical issues deeply affecting their well-being. Lifetime has ordered eight hour-long episodes from 495 Productions, with Salsano and Joel Zimmer serving as executive producers.
* 12 half-hour episodes of Brighton Beach, which follows the colorful women and men who live, love and work in the famous Brooklyn neighborhood, home to a vibrant Russian-American community where viewers will meet the multi-generational families whose dramas and dreams contend with their Russian heritage. Brighton Beach is produced by Left/Right, with Banks Tarver and Ken Druckerman (Kimora: Life in the Fab Lane, This American Life) executive producing, and Elina Miller and Alina Dizik co-executive producing.
* The Conversation, hosted by British television personality and renowned photographer Amanda de Cadenet and executive produced by Demi Moore and de Cadenet, which, in eight 60-minute episodes, will provide a refreshing and modern take on celebrity interviews as de Cadenet sits down with some of the world’s most famous women to discuss topics universal to all women. The Conversation will be produced by decadenet Inc., with Andrew Fried (Iconoclasts) co-executive producing.
* Dance Moms, which reveals the world of competitive dance where overbearing mothers push their daughters to the brink while vicariously living out their own dreams through their young performers. Produced by Collins Avenue Entertainment with Jeff Collins (Fly Girls, Outrageous Kids Parties), Bryan Stinson (High Society) and John R. Corella (Dance Flick) executive producing, Lifetime has ordered six hour-long episodes.
* The Day that Changed My Life, which through in-depth interview segments and re-enactments, showcases true stories of ordinary people whose lives took unexpected and dramatic turns following incidents ranging from terrifying accidents to chance encounters with strangers to mind-bending miracles. Six 60-minute episodes have been ordered from Sirens Media, with Valerie Haselton Drescher and Rebecca Toth Diefenbach (The Real Housewives of New Jersey) executive producing.
* Eight one-hour episodes each of Project Runway All Stars, featuring talented and memorable past contestants from the series who will once again compete against each other in a series of challenges to show they still have the innovation, talent and poise that made them household names, and Project Accessory, following enterprising artists who will be put to the test to create the newest and hottest trends in accessories as they compete for a cash grand prize to help them launch their own fashion accessories business. Project Runway All Stars will be produced by The Weinstein Company and Bunim-Murray Productions, and executive produced by Harvey Weinstein (Project Runway), Bob Weinstein (Project Runway), Meryl Poster (Chicago), Barbara Schneeweiss (Project Runway), Jon Murray (Project Runway, The Real World) and Rob Bagshaw (Top Chef Masters). Project Accessory will be produced by The Weinstein Company and Goodbye Pictures, and executive produced by Harvey Weinstein, Bob Weinstein, Meryl Poster, Barbara Schneeweiss, Sarah Emanuel and Rich Bye (Project Runway).
* The docu-series Roseanne’s Nuts, marking Emmy-winning actress, comedienne and best-selling author Roseanne Barr’s return to television as she takes on her newest endeavor managing a fully-functional 40-acre macadamia and live stock farm in Hawaii alongside her long-time boyfriend and son. Lifetime has ordered 16 half-hour episodes of the program from 3 Ball Productions/Eyeworks USA (The Biggest Loser, Extreme Makeover: Weight Loss Edition) and Full Moon & High Tide Productions, with Barr, JD Roth (The Biggest Loser), Todd A. Nelson (The Biggest Loser), Brant Pinvidic (Extreme Makeover: Weight Loss Edition) and Steven Greener (The Bernie Mac Show) executive producing.
* Seven one-hour episodes of To Live & Buy, following best friends and interior designers Tracy Hutson and Tanya McQueen (Extreme Makeover: Home Edition) as they crisscross America to find cool relics to restore and transform into stunning and eclectic pieces for their Los Angeles home decor store. Produced by RelativityREAL, with Tom Forman (Lifetime’s Coming Home, creator of Extreme Makeover: Home Edition) and Josh Bingham (Obsessed) executive producing.
* Six hour-long episodes of The Tracey Gold Project (wt), hosted by Tracey Gold (Growing Pains), who uses her personal experience fighting anorexia to help women overcome major eating disorders. Produced by GRB Entertainment, the series is executive produced by Gary R. Benz (Intervention) and Michael Branton (Intervention), Gold and Ted Haimes (Aftermath with William Shatner). Hollie Lobosky (Celebrity Fit Club) co-executive produces.
Lifetime, a pioneer in the longform genre and 1Q’11’s number one ad-supported cable network for original movie premieres among Adults 25-54, Adults 18-49, Women 25-54, Women 18-49, Women 18+ and Household ratings, will continue to deliver critically-acclaimed and high-profile films in 2011-12. Top-lining the network’s movie programming this year will be the major movie event Project Five, an anthology of five deeply interconnected short films featuring an all-star cast directed by Jennifer Aniston, Alicia Keys, Demi Moore and Patty Jenkins (Monster) that use humor and drama to explore the impact of breast cancer on people’s lives. Cast members include Emmy nominee Jeanne Tripplehorn (Big Love, Grey Gardens), Academy Award® nominee Patricia Clarkson (Pieces of April), Rosario Dawson (Sin City), Jenifer Lewis (The Princess and the Frog), Kathy Najimy (WALL-E), Tracee Ellis Ross (Girlfriends), Emmy and Golden Globe Award winner Tony Shalhoub (Monk) and Emmy nominee Jeffrey Tambor (Arrested Development). Project Five is executive produced by Aniston, Marta Kauffman (Friends), Paula Wagner (The Last Samurai, Mission: Impossible), Kristin Hahn (The Departed, The Switch), Kevin Chinoy (Greg the Bunny, Warren the Ape) and Francesca Silvestri (Greg the Bunny, Warren the Ape).
Lifetime Original Movies scheduled to premiere in 2011-12 include Justice for Natalee Holloway, starring Tracy Pollan (Natalee Holloway, Law & Order: Special Victims Unit) and debuting next Monday, May 9, which closes in on the ongoing mystery of what exactly happened to the Alabama teenager who in 2005 mysteriously disappeared during her senior class trip to Aruba; the action film Last Man Standing, from producer Gale Anne Hurd (The Walking Dead), starring Army Wives’ Catherine Bell as a suburban housewife and mother who uses her dark past as a military-trained special-ops agent to rescue her kidnapped husband, set for a Monday, June 6, debut; Nora Roberts’ Carnal Innocence, based on the famed author’s book and premiering Monday, June 13, in which Caroline Waverly’s (Gabrielle Anwar, Burn Notice, The Tudors) dreams for tranquility while visiting a bucolic Southern town turn into a nightmare when she discovers the body of a woman who is the possible victim of a serial killer; and the Monday, July 18, launch of Magic Beyond Words: The J.K. Rowling Story, starring Poppy Montgomery (Without a Trace) as the author struggling to bring the beloved wizard fantasy of Harry Potter to life as a single mother on welfare and become one of the world’s wealthiest women and most prolific writers.
Other movies slated include The Hunt for the I-5 Killer, starring John Corbett (United States of Tara) and Sara Canning (The Vampire Diaries), based on author Ann Rule’s haunting account of the year-long manhunt for the killer who in 1981 brutally raped and murdered 44 victims throughout the I-5 corridor in California, Washington and Oregon; Gone, which follows hospital nurse Amy Kettering (Molly Parker, Deadwood), who must fight against a group of kidnappers holding her daughter hostage until she kills a patient under police protective custody; the Gale Anne Hurd-produced Malibu Heist Club, about a group of young women who surf the California beaches while secretly pulling off heart-stopping robberies of high-end jewelry stores; and Elizabeth & Richard: A Love Story, chronicling the enduring love of entertainment legends Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton, whose fiery romance was the most notorious, publicized and celebrated love affair of its day. Rounding out the network’s longform titles for 2011-12 are The Bling Ring, based on the true story about one of Hollywood’s most notorious burglary rings that was a group of middle-class teens from a Los Angeles suburb; Girl Fight, which recounts the harrowing true story of 16-year-old Victoria Lindsay, a stellar Florida high school student whose life spirals downward when her former friends upload onto the Internet a shocking video of them beating her up; Murder in the House of Gucci, set on the backdrop of one of the world’s most famous fashion houses, the story of the sensational 1995 murder of powerful fashion mogul Maurizio Gucci by his glamorous ex-wife; Jodi Picoult’s Salem Falls, based on the best-selling author’s novel about an unassuming former teacher who moves to the sleepy New England town but must defend his past when a quartet of teenage girls harboring dark secrets maliciously target him with a shattering allegation; Mommy’s Little Girl, the story of a couple so desperate to adopt a child they might even bend the rules to get one but when the three-year old little girl of their dreams arrives, strange, inexplicable events begin to happen that threaten the couple’s lives; and The Pastor’s Wife, based on Dianne Fanning’s book about the true story of a murder of a beloved small-town minister and the shocking reason why his wife killed him.