Opportunity of a Lifetime

Biggest budget ever for originals

Lifetime Television on Tuesday rolled out to ad buyers the results of a 31% increase in its 2007-08 programming budget for what the cable network calls the largest programming investment in its history.

Lifetime Entertainment Services president Susanne Daniels unveiled an ambitious development slate of five scripted series from such auspices as "Desperate Housewives" star Teri Hatcher, "Reba" creator Allison Gibson and producers Paula Weinstein, Lawrence Bender, Kevin Brown and Denise Di Novi as well as several unscripted and longform projects, including a biopic of the hotel chain-founding Hilton family.

Lifetime, which has been in a ratings slump, also said that all three of its upcoming scripted series — "Army Wives," "State of Mind" and "Side Order of Life" — will run on Sundays, the network's traditional night of scripted series, at 10 p.m., 9 p.m. and 8 p.m., respectively.

"Wives" will bow June 3, followed by"Mind" and "Order" July 15.

Additionally, the cable network said it will relaunch LifetimeTV.com in June with a new broadband player offering streaming movies and series. Lifetime will also invest in more mobile applications in the fourth quarter.

In her remarks, Lifetime president and CEO Betty Cohen noted Lifetime's new programming investment, expansion of digital offerings and continued public advocacy, adding, "All of them certainly are informed by our laser light on women."

Lifetime's scripted series in development include:

"Burnt Toast," based on Hatcher's memoir, which she is exec producing with Gibson for ABC TV Studio;

"Chambermaid," exec produced by Weinstein and Jeffrey Levine, about a law school grad who clerks for a judge;

"Bailey Weggins," based on a series of books by Kate White about a recently divorced investigative reporter, exec produced by Rick Copp, Bender and Brown for Lionsgate;

"Mile High," an adaptation of a British series about an airline crew, executive produced by Jill Condon and original series creator Jane Hewland for ABC TV Studio;

"Lovely and Talented," about a woman who opens an acting class for women, exec produced by Di Novi and co-executive produced and written by Eileen Walls.

Daniels said the network is happy with the one-hour pilot "The Madness of Jane" and showed a clip from it.

New original movies in development include "House of Hilton," from Jaffe/Braunstein Films, which will look at the rise of the Hiltons, and "Victoria Woodhull," from Barbara Lieberman Films with Robert Greenwall Prods., the story of the woman who in 1872 ran for president.

Lifetime also is fast-tracking "Custody of the Heart," a movie about a custody battle. The Jaffe/Braunstein Films project is slated for summer.

Beyond the announced "How to Look Good Naked" pilot with "Queer Eye for the Straight Guy" co-host Carson Kressley, reality shows in development include "Judgment Day," a popularity contest from RDF; "America's Psychic Challenge," which pits psychics against one another, from Bunim Murray ; and "Going for Broke," a competition where women in financial trouble battle to have their debt forgiven, from Reveille and Super Delicious.
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