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Lifetime continues to draw top talent.
The network, which is also executive producing a movie about the Flint water crisis starring Cher, has ordered two new movies with Elizabeth Smart and Oscar winner Anjelica Huston attached, The Hollywood Reporter has learned.
Huston will star in a reimagining of the 1980 film The Watcher in the Woods, to be directed and exec produced by Melissa Joan Hart. The movie centers on Mrs. Alywood (Huston), a distraught mother whose daughter, Karen, vanished in the English countryside more than 20 years earlier. When Jan Carstairs (Tallulah Evans) and her family move into the Alywood manor, Mrs. Alywood is taken aback by Jan’s striking resemblance to Karen. Strange occurrences begin to unnerve the family, and Jan begins to suspect that they are linked to Karen’s disappearance. Scott Abott wrote the script, which Hart and her mother Paula Hart will exec produce for Hartbreak Films.
Smart, who was famously abducted from her home in 2002 at the age of 14 and rescued nine months later, is teaming with the network for the authorized movie about her kidnapping, titled I Am Elizabeth Smart. Smart will narrate and exec produce the project, exploring how she survived being starved, drugged and raped under the captivity of religious fanatic Brian Mitchell and discussing misconceptions about her kidnapping. Following CBS’ 2003 TV movie The Elizabeth Smart Story, Lifetime’s take will be exec produced by Smart, Steve Michaels, Jonathan Koch and Joan Harrison of Asylum Entertainment, Allison Berkley and Joseph Freed of Marwar Junction Productions and Barbara Lieberman. Sarah Walker will direct from a teleplay by Tory Walker.
On the series front, Lifetime has ordered two new unscripted entries headlined by reality stars Cat Deeley and Yolanda Hadid.
Deeley will host This Time Next Year, which follows the emotional journeys of ordinary people as they embark on extraordinary missions to change their lives over the course of one year. Each transformation will be revealed onscreen in a matter of moments, as participants enter one door and emerge from another in an instantaneous “time-travel” style format, revealing a brand-new version of themselves. These missions include everything from reconstructive surgeries to heartwarming reunions, infertility to weight loss. Only after they reappear will viewers learn how, and if, they have achieved their goals. Based on the hit U.K. format, This Time Next Year will be produced by Twofour America. Exec producers include Bernie Schaeffer, Laurie Girion, Melanie Leach and Lifetime’s Andrew Mackenzie. Executive producers for LIfetime include Mariana Flynn, Mary Donahue and David Hillman.
Model Moms (working title) stars Hadid — a former model, Real Housewives of Beverly Hills grad and mother of supermodels Gigi and Bella Hadid — as she coaches aspiring teen models to succeed on and off the runway. Girls and their “momagers” will go through an eight-week training program that will include a $5,000 weekly prize to put toward their future careers. The winner will receive a management contract with Yolanda’s company and the potential opportunity to be represented by IMG Models in New York. Produced by Hudsun Media, Model Moms exec producers include Yolanda Hadid, Michael Rourke, Sean Rankine and Lifetime’s Flynn, Donahue, Mioshi Hill and Colleen Conway Grogan.
Additionally, Lifetime on Tuesday announced premiere dates for several TV movies: Michael Jackson: Searching for Neverland is set to debut May 29 at 8 p.m. ET/PT; Menendez: Blood Brothers, starring Courtney Love, launches June 10 at 8 p.m.; and Kyra Sedgwick’s directorial debut, Story of a Girl, bows July 23 at 8 p.m.
“We are proud to launch such a robust offering of innovative programming with this award-winning group of talent,” said Lifetime executive vp and head of programming Liz Gateley. “As we look to tell the stories that otherwise wouldn’t be told, through the vision and words of true-life experiences and female storytellers, Lifetime imagines all that’s possible for women, both onscreen and beyond.”
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