Lifetime Reveals 2016-17 Slate, Feminist Initiative


LOS ANGELES: Lifetime has unveiled its 2016-17 programming development slate and a new multiplatform initiative called The Fempire that aims to entertain and engage the next generation of feminists by creating content that is made by, for and about women.

Selena Gomez is on board to executive produce the untitled Selena Gomez Project, an autobiographical scripted drama that is being produced with A+E Studios and Trigger Street. Serena Williams is exec producing a movie titled Sister Dance (working title), inspired by the annual dance-off she hosts with her sister; Janet Jackson will serve as EP on the prohibition-era Mobster film Queenie (working title); Ronda Rousey is developing a trio of films about empowerment; and Revecca Minkoff joins the judging panel for the NYC-set series Fashion Inc. (The Weinstein Company, Matador), which sees aspiring fashion and beauty entrepreneurs compete for the chance to secure funding from a panel of expert investors.

In an effort to continue the scripted success generated by UnREAL, Lifetime is making, developing and acquiring projects with complicated female characters. The network has ordered a two-hour pilot for Sea Change (MarVista Entertainment, Piller/Segan), a supernatural drama based on the best-selling books penned by Aimee Friedman. The show will center on a teenage girl who, after the death of her father, moves to a small island to live with her estranged mother and discovers that the legends about dangerous Sea Walkers appear to be true. Lifetime has also lined up the U.S. linear debut of Catastrophe (Avalon Television), a 12×30-minute U.K. comedy about the consequences of an unplanned pregnancy, for early next year.

Lifetime is developing the hour-long drama A Midsummer’s Nightmare (working title), in which each season puts a modern-day horror-mystery twist on a classic Shakespearean story. The production is being made by A+E Studios and Prospect Park. Other scripted projects in development include the tentatively titled None of the Above (A+E Studios, Davis Entertainment), a coming-of-age drama based on the novel of the same name; the untitled Holly Brix Project (UnbeliEVAble Entertainment, A+E Studios), about a group of strangers brought together by an unknown puppet master; Breeders (A+E Studios), a tentatively titled dramedy centered on a support group for new parents; and Deadline, an A+E Studios and Imperative Entertainment drama about an aspiring journalist struggling to advance her career.

In addition to the previously mentioned movies, Lifetime is prepping The Michel’le Story (working title), about the life of the titular R&B singer. That film is being produced for Lifetime by Sony Pictures Television and Thinkfactory Media. There is also Paris Can Wait, based on the life of writer/director Eleanor Coppola and presented by Lifetime Films, American Zoetrope and Corner Piece Capital.

On the unscripted front, Lifetime has lined up the previously mentioned Fashion Inc. along with Gold Metal Families, which showcases six Olympic hopefuls and their families. The latter 8×60-minute show is being produced by The Company and will premiere this summer.

In digital, Lifetime plans to make short-form content that will serve its audience 24/7 through social distribution and The Fempire digital hub on In collaboration with Hello Giggles, the channel is creating the comedy shorts Oversharing, which feature up-and-coming comediennes talking about their personal lives. All ten episodes are available online. And finally, fans of UnREAL can binge on the new spin-off series The Faith Diaries, which follows the titular character as she travels to Los Angeles with her girlfriend.

Liz Gateley, the executive VP and head of programming for Lifetime, stated: “Lifetime will expand its brand into a multiplatform destination with an aggressive investment in short-form digital content that will engage and entertain our viewers 24/7. With content and conversations curated around the fourth wave of feminism, The Fempire will be a place where women come to share videos and conversations, connect with friends, learn new things and most importantly, be entertained.”

Gateley added: “It still sucks to be a woman in America because women feel dismissed in both big and small ways throughout their day every day. We know our viewers come to Lifetime because we empower them. Building on the momentum of our critical hit, UnREAL, along with our movies and growing unscripted success, our content will be centered [on] strong, complicated characters who stand up for themselves and refuse to be disqualified, and are overcoming the same obstacles our audience faces every day. We will deliver on that with exciting new talent partnerships in both linear and digital. No studio or network is giving women creators a bigger platform to freely express themselves and see their stories get made.”