[04/15/04 - 12:00 AM]
Lifetime Unrolls 2004-05 Season Plans
By The Futon Critic Staff (TFC)

CHICAGO (thefutoncritic.com) -- Lifetime will continue to expand its original movie slate as well as fan the flames of its current drama quartet next season, the network announced today at its annual upfront presentation to the advertising community.

Here's the trio of press releases the cable channel issued touting their plans for the upcoming season:

Lifetime Television's 2004-05 Season Features Expansion of Original Programming, Including Movies, Reality Series and Specials, Highlighted by First-Ever Miniseries

Dana Delany, Mariska Hargitay, Lauren Holly, Mary-Louise Parker, Kathleen Quinlan and Debra Winger Star in Movies

Popular Dramas 'Wild Card' and 'Missing' Return for Second Season, Reality Slate Boasts New Series from Producers of 'American Idol'

- Nationally Syndicated Lifetime Radio for Women Latest Brand Extension -

Lifetime Television has announced a major expansion of original movies, reality programming and specials for the 2004-05 season, highlighted by a 50 percent increase in Lifetime Original Movies from 12 to 19 -- a single-year record for the network.

Along with movies starring actresses such as Dana Delany, Mariska Hargitay, Lauren Holly, Mary-Louise Parker, Kathleen Quinlan and Debra Winger, this figure includes Lifetime's first-ever original miniseries, scheduled for 2005.

In addition to the expansion of its movie franchise, Lifetime will increase its reality programming with a new Friday night reality block featuring the popular sophomore shows "Merge" and "Head 2 Toe," the fall premiere of a new series from the producers of "American Idol" titled "How Clean Is Your House," along with returning favorites "What Should You Do?" and "Lifetime's Speaking of Women's Health."

Specials range from "The Nanny Reunion" and "TV's Greatest Sidekicks" to "TV Movie Superstars: Women We Love."

In the summer, "Strong Medicine" returns for its fifth season -- with its 100th episode scheduled for airing in October -- along with "Wild Card" and "MISSING" (formerly "1-800 MISSING"). In July, "The Division" celebrates its fourth season finale.

Lifetime Entertainment Services is extending the brand -- ranked #1 among all key female demographics in a recent 2004 Brand Resonance Study -- into Lifetime Radio for Women, a partnership with Jones Radio. Lifetime Radio for Women will launch as a nationally syndicated service later this year.

"Last year, we unveiled the first phase of a record $800 million investment in programming with successes, including our two new dramas and a trio of popular reality series. Our programming enables advertisers to reach a wide range of women viewers in all key demographics, along with offering them an array of multi-media platforms utilizing brand extensions such as Lifetime magazine, lifetimetv.com and now Lifetime Radio," said Lynn Picard, Executive Vice President and General Manager, Lifetime Television Network.

"In this new season, we are offering our viewers an even richer blend of genres, including dramas, movies, reality and comedy. As proven by the long list of outstanding artists involved in upcoming projects, Lifetime is the home for top talent throughout the entertainment industry, both in front of and behind the camera," said Barbara Fisher, Executive Vice President, Entertainment, Lifetime Entertainment Services.

Lifetime Television Partners With Jones Radio Networks to Launch National Radio Program, 'Lifetime Radio for Women'

Lifetime Entertainment Services, the industry leader in women's television, is partnering with Jones Radio Networks, one of the nation's top syndicated radio programmers, to launch a new nationally syndicated radio service, Lifetime Radio for Women(R), beginning later this year.

This marks another major Lifetime brand extension following the successful launch of Lifetime Magazine, Lifetime Online and Lifetime Movie Network which, along with Lifetime Television, are basic cable's two highest-rated women's television networks.

In making the announcement, Rick Haskins, Executive Vice President/General Manager, Lifetime Entertainment Services, said, "We feel this is a natural medium for the Lifetime brand, which is the #1 television brand for women. Women told us that there is simply nothing like this in the marketplace, and that Lifetime was the perfect brand to bring it to them. This is going to be something brand new-an upbeat, fun morning radio program that really gets women. In our first venture into radio, we're delighted our partner is Jones Radio Networks, which has had enormous success over the years programming to women audiences across the nation."

Building off the connection that women feel for the Lifetime Brand, the daily four-hour morning program blends adult contemporary music, live caller interaction, celebrity guests and lively discussions about the topics women relate to most.

"There's a natural synergy between Jones Radio Networks and Lifetime. We both know women and, between us, we've made significant advancements in the development and delivery of top-notch, quality programming for women," says Susan Stephens, VP/GM, JRN-Seattle. "Jones Radio Networks put nights and overnights on the map for AC radio nationwide. Now, we're thrilled to deliver this level of programming for women in the morning day part."

Academy Award and Golden Globe-Nominated Actress Debra Winger to Star in LIFETIME Original Movie 'Dawn Anna' (working title)

Project Marks Revolution Studios' First Television Movie

Tom Patricia (Emmy Nominated 'Homeless to Harvard') to Executive Produce

Three-time Academy Award and four- time Golden Globe Award-nominated actress Debra Winger ("Terms of Endearment," "An Officer and a Gentleman") will star in the LIFETIME Original Movie "Dawn Anna,"(wt) it was announced today by Trevor Walton, Senior Vice President, LIFETIME Original Movies.

This will also mark the first time Revolution Studios ("Blackhawk Down," "Maid in Manhattan," "XXX," "Anger Management," "Radio," "Mona Lisa Smile") has produced a movie for television.

"Dawn Anna" is a powerful true story of a beloved teacher, high school volleyball coach and single mother of four who has to come to terms with her own mortality in the face of her struggles with a near-fatal brain mass. But, just when she turns the corner and begins getting her life on track, she must then deal with her child's own mortality.

"No matter what troubles she faced, Dawn bounced back stronger and more determined than ever," commented Walton. "We want to share the story of her beautiful spirit with our viewers and are thrilled to be working with Revolution Studios on their first television movie. We are honored to have an actress of Debra's caliber and stature join the roster of strong actresses who have starred in Lifetime Original Movies and are confident that the directing talents of Debra's husband, Arliss Howard, will make it an extraordinarily powerful movie."

"There is a simple thing that happens when you spend real time out in the world: You notice the extraordinary heroism in the lives of the people all around you," said Winger. "Dawn Anna's story reminds us of what we are capable of in the face of adversity."

"My wife Madeleine, son William and his partner Jason Shuman, have been working on this project for almost four years, and it is very close to our hearts," said Tom Sherak, partner at Revolution Studios. "It's great to see it finally come to fruition. Dawn Anna is an amazing woman with a truly inspiring story, and we are thrilled to bring it to television through Lifetime."

"I was drawn to this compelling story because Dawn Anna is a woman who commits her energies to ensuring that beauty and life outshine the darkness of despair," remarked Executive Producer Tom Patricia. "What better actress to play her than Debra Winger. We look forward to a successful collaboration with her husband, director Arliss Howard."

Winger earned Academy Award nominations for her work in "Shadowlands," "Terms of Endearment" and "An Officer and a Gentleman." She received Golden Globe Award nominations for these three, as well as "A Dangerous Woman" and "Urban Cowboy." She also received a Golden Globe nomination for New Star of the Year in a Motion Picture - Female for "Urban Cowboy," the Female Star of the Year award at ShoWest and the Tokyo International Film Festival award for Best Actress for "A Dangerous Woman." Winger co-executive produced the feature "Big Bad Love" with her husband, Arliss Howard.

"Dawn Anna" is produced by Revolution Studios in association with My Bench Productions and Blue Star Pictures for LIFETIME Television. Executive producers are Madeleine Sherak, Jason Shuman ("Little Black Book," "Darkness Falls"), William Sherak ("Little Black Book," "Darkness Falls") and Tom Patricia (LIFETIME'S "Homeless to Harvard," "RFK"). Debra Winger and Arliss Howard ("Big Bad Love") are co-producers. Arliss Howard directs from a teleplay by Robert Munic ("They Call Me Sir," "In a Class of His Own").

In addition, here's some more details on some of the cable channel's upcoming projects:

CAUGHT IN THE ACT (Monday, May 10 at 8:00/7:00c) - Here's how Lifetime describes the project, which was previously developed under the title "Tenn, P.I.," in its press materials: "Lauren Holly is the new P.I. in town. She's a tough-talking, sassy Southerner � a cross between Erin Brockovich and Columbo with a little bit of "Charlie's Angels" kick-butt attitude thrown in for good measure. Her cheating, lying husband better beware, because he's her next case." Max Martini also stars in the project, which was directed by Jeffrey Reiner.

BABY FOR SALE - Dana Delany ("Presidio Med") stars in a true story of a couple who went undercover to expose a baby-selling ring after mistakenly becoming involved while trying to adopt a child from a foreign country. Leslie Greif and Judy Polone are the executive producers of the project, which comes from Christal Film Productions in association with Muse Entertainment and distributor Lions Gate Television. No potential air date was given.

MIDDLETOWN, AMERICA - Executive producer Robert Halmi, Sr. and writer Carol Doyle ("Veronica Guerin") are behind the cable channel's first ever four-hour mini-series. The $15 million project is based on Gail Sheehy's novel of the same named (subtitled "One Town's Passage From Trauma to Hope") about the town in New Jersey that lost more people during the September 11 attack than any other community in the U.S.. Extensive location shooting in Russia, Eastern Europe and Mexico is planned for the mini-series.

MIRACLE RUN - Mary-Louise Parker toplines this telefilm about a mother who champions the cause of her autistic twin sons. Mike Maples wrote the script to the project, which comes from executive producer Tom Patricia and Patriarch Pictures. A target air date was not specified.

PLAIN TRUTH - Mariska Hargitay ("Law & Order: S.V.U.") stars in the small screen adaptation of Jodi Picoult's ("The Pact") bestselling novel of the same name. The project concerns a cynical lawyer (Hargitay) who takes on the case of an 18-year-old Amish woman (Alison Pill) accused of murder. Michael Prupas and Alys Shanti will executive produce the telefilm, which is set up at Plain Truth Productions and distributor Robert Greenwald Productions. Matt Tabak ("Obsessed") wrote the script to "Truth," which is expected to complete production in time for a July air date.

  [april 2004]  

· RFK (FX)

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