Lifetime unveils new series to ad buyers


NEW YORK -- 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 also announced 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," starring Kim Delaney and Catherine Bell, will bow June 3, followed by Lili Taylor starrer "Mind" and "Order," toplined by Marisa Coughlan, slated to debut July 15.

Additionally, the cable network said it will relaunch in June with a new broadband player offering streaming movies and series including "Army Wives" and the paranormal reality series "Lisa Williams: Life Among the Dead." Lifetime will also invest in more mobile applications, including a Wireless Application Protocol (WAP) site in the fourth quarter.

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 ("Monster-in-Law"), about a law school grad who clerks for a power-hungry judge;

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

  "Mile High," an adaptation of a British series about an airline crew, executive produced by Jill Condon ("Friends") 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," which stars Ever Carradine and is being edited. She showed a clip from it.

New original movies in development include "House of Hilton," which will look at the rise of the Hiltons from poverty to immense wealth, and "Victoria Woodhull," the story of the woman who in 1872 ran for president even though women didn't have the right to vote.

"Hilton" is based on a book by Jerry Oppenheimer and is produced by Howard Braunstein and Michael Jaffe for Jaffe/Braunstein Films. "Woodhull," from Barbara Lieberman Films with Robert Greenwall Prods., is executive produced by Barbara Lieberman ("Murder in the Hamptons"), Arlene and Irving Sorkin ("Something the Lord Made"), Agatha Dominik and John Crutchfield.

The network officially announced the greenlighting of its second original miniseries, the four-hour "The Gathering," from David Eick and John Shiban (HR 4/24). Lifetime also is fast-tracking "Custody of the Heart," a movie about a custody battle between the stepfather and birth father of a 13-year-old girl. The Jaffe/Braunstein Films project is slated for summer.

Beyond the previously 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 ("Wife Swap"); "America's Psychic Challenge," which pits psychics against each other, from Bunim Murray ("The Real World"); and "Going for Broke," a competition where women in financial trouble battle to have their debt forgiven, from Reveille ("The Biggest Loser") and Super Delicious ("The '70s House").

Lifetime will also produce 12 more original movies for its sister channel, Lifetime Movie Network, which has been rebranded.