'Army Wives' gets drafted

Lifetime orders 13 episodes of drama

Lifetime has enlisted "Army Wives" with a series pickup.

The cable network has ordered 13 episodes of the ensemble drama starring Kim Delaney and Catherine Bell. "Wives," from the Mark Gordon Co. and Touchstone Television, premieres in March.

The series, filmed on location in Charleston, S.C., revolves around a diverse group of women — and one man — living with their families on an active Army post and the pressures on those left behind while their partners serve their country. It also stars Sally Pressman, Brigid Brannagh, Brian McNamara, Sterling K. Brown, Wendy Davis and Drew Fuller.

Lifetime Networks president of entertainment Susanne Daniels said the series explores a world not currently portrayed on television.

"It's very much about the Army wives' world of the Army base and how the wives are dealing with their partner or spouse off fighting the war," she said. "It's not about the war itself; it's not a political statement."

Daniels hasn't yet decided on a time slot for the show, which she noted will appeal to the network's target demo of women 18-49 without excluding male viewers.

"It allows for a sort of range of emotional storytelling to be explored from dramatic moments, fun moments, romantic moments," she said. "It's a unique point of view, and that's what we should be doing on Lifetime."

"Army Wives" was one of four drama pilots in contention for a series pickup at Lifetime. Daniels said there's still no decision on the other three — "State of Mind" and "Side Order of Life," both from Warner Horizon Television, and "Conspiracy" from Fox TV Studios — which are in various stages of production. Daniels' plan is to greenlight another series for a June premiere and a third for a fall debut.

Mark Gordon and his company's president of production, Deborah Spera, are executive producers on "Wives." The pilot, directed by Ben Younger, was written by Katherine Fugate, who created the series and also executive produces. The series is based on the book "Under the Sabers: The Unwritten Code of Army Wives" by Tanya Biank, who serves as a consultant.

In other Lifetime news, the network has decided not to pick up a second season of the drama "Angela's Eyes" or the comedy "Lovespring International." "Angela's," which debuted July 16, averaged 1.7 million total viewers per episode, while "Lovespring," which premiered June 5, averaged 839,000 viewers.

Daniels said the decision not to renew either series was difficult. For "Lovespring," it was "more a question of Lifetime being ready for a primetime comedy than it was about the creative success of the show," she said, while the network went straight to series on "Angela's," and "at the end of the day it hurt" that Lifetime execs didn't have the benefit of seeing the pilot first and offering creative input.
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