Lifetime is turning to the true-story arena for the network’s latest greenlights, including an order for a four hour follow-up documentary special, Surviving R. Kelly: The Aftermath and development on Surviving Jeffrey Epstein, a doc following the NY financier who was recently arrested for his alleged predatory behavior to young girls. Additionally, Lifetime has partnered with Wendy Williams on her biopic and companion documentary on her life, as well as greenlighting the new movie, College Admissions Scandal. The network has also set the premiere date for the upcoming film, Patsy & Loretta, following the friendship of country music icons Patsy Cline and Loretta Lynn for Saturday, October 19th at 8pm ET/PT. The news was announced today during Lifetime’s session at TCA, by Rob Sharenow, President, Programming, A+E Networks.
Lifetime has commissioned four additional hours to the ongoing story of R. Kelly in the follow-up, Surviving R. Kelly: The Aftermath. Produced by Kreativ Inc, the doc will feature interviews with new survivors, psychologists and experts on the case, and more insights into the ever-growing saga of the R&B singer, who is currently facing federal and state charges. The award-winning, explosive documentary brought to light the survivors’ accounts of R. Kelly’s abusive behavior, was recently nominated for an Emmy Award for Outstanding Informational Series or Special and has been seen by over 26.8 million people. Surviving R. Kelly: The Aftermath will be executive produced by Joel Karsberg and Jessie Daniels of Kreativ Inc., dream hampton, Tamra Simmons, Maria Pepin with Bunim Murray Productions and Brie Miranda Bryant who executive produces for Lifetime. Sudi Khosropur is co-executive producer and showrunner for Surviving R. Kelly: The Aftermath.
Lifetime is expanding its footprint in the investigative doc space with development on Surviving Jeffrey Epstein, centering on the billionaire New York financier who is alleged to have used his connections to the rich and famous to shield his predatory behavior with young girls. Accused of sex crimes with minors and trafficking, registered sex offender Epstein allegedly hid in plain sight while enablers protected him for over two decades, until his arrest by the FBI earlier this month. Surviving Jeffrey Epstein is in development with Emmy-winner Robert Friedman’s Bungalow Media + Entertainment (Panama Papers, The Preppy Murder) in association with award-winning filmmakers Anne Sundberg and Ricki Stern (The Preppy Murder, Reversing Roe, The Devil Came on Horseback). Sundberg and Stern will direct. Long-time contributor to The New York Times, New York Magazine, Town & Country and Architectural Digest, respected journalist Christopher Mason is also attached to the project.
Lifetime says “How You Doing?” to talk show host Wendy Williams, who has signed on to executive produce a biopic on her life, revealing the highs and lows she has experienced throughout the years. Wendy has made herself the go-to source for great celebrity dish on her hit talk show, The Wendy Williams Show, but recently the spotlight has turned towards her. The authorized project provides a revealing look at Wendy’s journey, from her scrappy upstart days in urban radio to the success of her own syndicated talk show. Despite all the naysayers and obstacles Wendy encountered throughout her life, her strength and determination have allowed her to thrive. From Will Packer Media, the movie will go into production this fall, and debut in 2020. Leigh Davenport is the writer of the script. The biopic will be accompanied with a documentary on Wendy’s life, produced by Entertainment One (eOne) and Creature Films.
Additionally, Lifetime continues to adapt stories in the current zeitgeist and has greenlit the two-hour movie College Admissions Scandal, centering on the story that captivated a nation where over 50 privileged and elite individuals from across the country were exposed for criminally conspiring to influence the undergraduate admissions decisions at some of America’s top schools. College Admissions Scandal will follow two wealthy mothers who share an obsession with getting their teenagers into the best possible college. When charismatic college admissions consultant Rick Singer offers a side door into the prestigious institutions of their dreams, they willingly partake with visions of coveted acceptance letters in their heads. But when Singer cooperates with the FBI and pleads guilty, the mothers who risked everything for their kids, must face the consequences of their crimes and the loss of trust and respect from their families. College Admissions Scandal is produced by Varsity Films Inc. The film is executive produced by Gail Katz and Howard Braunstein. Adam Salky will direct from a script by Stephen Tolkin.
Lifetime also announced the premiere date for the new movie Patsy & Loretta, starring Megan Hilty (Smash, The Good Wife) as music legend Patsy Cline and Grammy winner Jessie Mueller (Broadway’s Waitress, Beautiful: The Carole King Musical) as country icon Loretta Lynn, on Saturday, October 19, at 8pm ET/PT.
Patsy & Loretta is based on the untold true story of the friendship between two of country music’s greatest icons, Patsy Cline (Hilty) and Loretta Lynn (Mueller). When they first met, Patsy was already one of the biggest stars in country music while Loretta was just a coal miner’s daughter, starting off with little to her name but a $17 guitar. Instead of seeing Loretta as competition, Patsy took Loretta under her wings to help her make it in Nashville. Soon, they became close friends, touring together, bonding over their husband troubles and commiserating on being females in the male-dominated music business. Then in 1963, the country music community was struck with a tragedy when at just age 30, Patsy died in a plane crash. Despite the devastating loss of her friend, Loretta continued on in the industry and is today, known as the First Lady of Country Music. To this day, Loretta remains grateful to Patsy for her mentorship and above all, friendship, as the country music trailblazer that paved the way for Loretta.
Patsy & Loretta is produced by Sony Pictures Television and Zadan/Meron Entertainment for Lifetime. Neil Meron serves as executive producer while Mark Nicholson, who runs development and production for Zadan/Meron Productions serves as Co-EP. Co-producers are Loretta Lynn’s daughter Pasty Lynn Russell and Patsy Cline’s daughter Julie Fudge on behalf of Patsy Cline’s Estate. Award-winning writer Callie Khouri who also created the TV series Nashville, directs from a script by Angelina Burnett.