Lifetime today unveiled its 2016/2017 development slate. Skimming through the press release, of note, with respect to this blog’s interests, are:
– Serena Williams will executive produce on original movie for the network titled “Sister Dance” (a working title), which tells a story that’s inspired by the annual dance-off competition which she hosts with her sister, Venus. In the scripted telepic, two sisters become rivals once they pit themselves against each other and their respective dance teams in an epic dance battle.
– Next, Janet Jackson will executive produce the story of 1920’s New York City mobster, Queenie – the first and only woman gangster during the prohibition, set against the backdrop of The Cotton Club. Born Stephanie St. Clair (1886–1969), Queenie (photo above) was a mob boss who ran numerous criminal enterprises in Harlem, NYC in the early part of the 20th century. She even bumped heads with the then Italian mafia, and managed to stay entirely independent. In Bill Duke’s gangland crime drama “Hoodlum” (1997) she was played by Cicely Tyson, as some of you might recall. Kenny Leon is attached to direct the film.
New unscripted series in development include “Fashion Inc.,” which is set in New York City’s celebrated fashion district, as aspiring fashion and beauty entrepreneurs compete for the chance to secure funds from a panel of expert investors to help grow their budding ventures. The hourlong eight-episode series is slated to premiere later this year. The Weinstein Company is producing.
Also there’s a new docuseries titled “Gold Medal Families” which showcases six Olympic hopefuls and their families, revealing the extraordinary lengths, economic hardships and personal sacrifices they all go through to get their elite athlete to the podium of the world games. Eight 1-hour episodes have been ordered for premiere this summer.
The film on Stephanie St. Clair is the most interesting to me here. My only concern is what Lifetime’s cinematic style/brand will mean for it. Unless this is all part of an effort to rebrand the network.