Los Angeles, CA – January 18, 2020 – Following Lifetime’s banner 2019 TV slate that included the groundbreaking and critically acclaimed documentary series Surviving R. Kelly and highly-rated V.C. Andrews’ Casteel Family movie series, Lifetime builds on its success by officially greenlighting the investigative four-hour documentary Surviving Jeffrey Epstein and orders five new movies based on V.C. Andrews’ Ruby Landry series for the 2020 TV season. Additionally, Lifetime commissions six Smart Justice specials with Elizabeth Smart to serve as companion docs for the network’s Ripped from the Headlines true-crime movies. Lifetime also greenlights new biopic, I Was Lorena Bobbitt.
Lifetime also sets the premiere date for the highly anticipated The Clark Sisters: First Ladies of Gospel for Saturday, April 11 at 8pm ET/PT. The film hails from executive producers Queen Latifah, Mary J. Blige and Missy Elliott and tells the story of the highs and lows of the top-selling female gospel group of all time.
The news was announced today during Lifetime’s session at TCA, by Rob Sharenow, President, Programming, A+E Networks.
Following the impact of Lifetime’s Surviving R. Kelly and Surviving R. Kelly Part II: The Reckoning, the network looks to continue to raise the voices of survivors with Surviving Jeffrey Epstein, in line with Lifetime’s Stop Violence Against Women initiative to provide a platform and resources for women.
The four-hour doc investigates 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. Hailing from Emmy-winner Robert Friedman’s Bungalow Media + Entertainment (Panama Papers, The Preppy Murder), award-winning filmmakers Anne Sundberg and Ricki Stern (The Preppy Murder, Reversing Roe, The Devil Came on Horseback) direct the documentary. 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. Shura Davidson and Gena McCarthy executive produce for Lifetime. Surviving Jeffrey Epstein will air this summer on Lifetime.
With V.C. Andrews’ Casteel Family movie series ranking as cable’s #2 new drama series among W25-54* for 2019, the network expands its footprint within the prolific writer’s universe by greenlighting the five-movie series based on the Ruby Landry novels. The first of the five new original movies, V.C. Andrews’ Ruby, will star Australian twins Raechelle Banno as “Ruby” and Karina Banno as “Giselle.”
Watched over by her loving Grandmère Catherine, Ruby Landry is filled with hope as love blooms with her high school sweetheart Paul Tate, but lingering thoughts of her mysterious father and her mother’s death often creep into Ruby’s mind. As dark family secrets begin to reveal themselves when Paul’s parents forbid him from seeing Ruby, Ruby is further devastated when her beloved Grandmère passes away. Forced to flee to New Orleans from the Bayou, Ruby searches for her estranged father, one of the richest men in the city, as she clings to her memories of Paul and their forbidden love. Additional films in the series include Pearl in the Mist, All That Glitters, Hidden Jewel and Tarnished Gold. Casting is underway on the movie series which begins production later this month.
V.C. Andrews’ Landry Family Series is produced by Reel One Entertainment. Executive producers are Tom Berry, Dan Angel, Jane Starz and Ric Nish and screenwriters include Richard Blaney, Gregory Small, Scarlett Lacey, Andy Cochran and Alison Lea Bingeman. Gail Harvey is set to direct Ruby.
As Lifetime celebrates its 30-year anniversary of the Lifetime Original Movie this year, the network will premiere over 100 new titles in 2020. One of these movies will be the newly greenlit Ripped from the Headlines true-crime title, I Was Lorena Bobbitt. Lorena Bobbitt became a household name and made tabloid headlines when after years of abuse by her husband, she cut off his penis with a knife in 1993. Now nearly 30 years later, Lorena tells her story, and hers alone, for the first time with Lifetime. This fully authorized film in which Bobbitt serves as an executive producer, follows her journey from a wide-eyed, immigrant bride to a battered wife into an unlikely media sensation. I Am Lorena Bobbitt also documents her ultimately emerging as a strong, thoughtful woman who has devoted her life to advocating for other abused women.
Produced by Cineflix International, executive producers are Bobbitt, Andy Streitfeld, Jeff Vanderwal and Charles Tremayne. I Was Lorena Bobbitt is written by Barbara Nance and will be directed by Danishka Esterhazy. Casting is underway on the movie series which begins production later this month.
Lifetime once again teams up with Elizabeth Smart for Smart Justice, six hour-long specials that tackle powerful true crime stories to complement the networks’ Ripped from the Headlines movie titles. Smart Justice doc subjects will be announced as Lifetime greenlights upcoming true-crime titles.
Told through the eyes of America’s most renowned survivor Elizabeth Smart who overcame her own harrowing abduction when she was 14, each special provides behind-the-scenes information on tragic crimes and features powerful and emotional breakthroughs as Elizabeth actively helps place victims on their journey to healing. Each hour-long episode of Smart Justice will present real case evidence, including police video, crime scene materials, interrogation tapes and courtroom footage, as well as interviews with the actual victims, family members and others who will offer their first-hand recollections of the crimes. As a survivor of trauma herself, Elizabeth will elicit new information on each case, as she takes viewers through all the twists and turns of these horrific stories.
Smart Justice is produced by Telepictures. Lisa Gregorisch-Dempsey is Senior Executive Producer and Jeremy Spiegel and Scott Eldridge are Executive Producers. Mioshi Hill and Gena McCarthy executive produce for Lifetime.