Lifetime Bulks Up Daytime, Primetime


New York-In addition to new primetime fare, Lifetime Television will beef up its original daytime programming, developing an hour-long daily show with actress Delta Burke and adding a reality-based series that profiles the special bonds between people.

At the network's upfront here last week, Lifetime officials announced a development deal with Burke and laid out plans to launch two new shows in June: the daytime series The Things We Do for Love and Who Knows You Best?, a game show.

"We have signed Delta Burke for a daily show on self esteem," Dawn Tarnofsky-Ostroff, Lifetime's executive vice president of entertainment, told the audience of media buyers.

The network is currently shooting a pilot for the series and hopes to have it on the air by the fourth quarter, Tarnofsky-Ostroff added. It will include produced field segments and segments in which Burke - who has fought her own battle over Hollywood's standards concering a woman's weight - leads discussions with experts and an in-studio audience.

The Things We Do For Love is about appreciating the special people in your life, and will examine the bonds between specific husbands and wives; mother and daughters; or teachers and mentors.

Lifetime has ordered 65 episodes of both The Things We Do for Love and Who Knows You Best?, a previously announced daytime game show that will debut June 12.

Earlier this year, Lifetime added Lifetime Live, an hour-long lunchtime show, to its schedule. Lifetime's new rival in the women's arena, Geraldine Laybourne's Oxygen, also has live daytime programming.

Lifetime, which will spend 40 percent more on original programming this year than last, spiced up its presentation with a performance by rock singer Melissa Etheridge, who hosts its reality series, Beyond Chance.

The women's network also gave the Madison Avenue crowd a peek at clips from its new primetime shows, the previously announced Strong Medicine and City Lights.

Whoopi Goldberg will executive-produce Strong Medicine, which stars Janine Turner and Rosa Blasi and debuts in July. The hour-long drama is about two women doctors whose careers intersect - and collide - at a free women's clinic in Philadelphia. Goldberg will also appear on the show throughout the season.

City Lights, another hour-long primetime drama, is set to debut in January next year. Bonnie Bedelia and Nancy McKeon star in a show that looks at the lives of five female police detectives in San Francisco.

"We always wanted to do a realistic police drama, but we wanted to do it our way," Tarnofsky-Ostroff said.

Although Lifetime's veteran original primetime series, Any Day Now and Beyond Chance, will be back next season, the original comedy Oh Baby will not.

In addition to her series, Goldberg will team up with Barbra Streisand to executive-produce Lifetime's original movie What Makes a Family, which is based on the true story of a lesbian who fights her deceased partner's parents for custody of their child. The telepic is slated to debut the first quarter next year.

In September, Lorraine Bracco and Martin Donovan will star in the original movie Custody of the Heart, the story of a working mother who is sued by her stay-at-home husband for full custody of their kids.

Lifetime also told advertisers it had acquired the rights to The Nanny, which it will air in fall 2002.

Lynn Picard, Lifetime's executive vice president of sales, pointed out that the network has jumped from No. 10 among basic-cable networks in primetime in 1985 to No. 4 in the first quarter.

Again, with the arrival of Oxygen Media's cable network and Web sites, Lifetime has relaunched its own site and bumped up its marketing effort. The network has doubled its marketing budget, Lifetime president Carole Black said.

In the second and third quarters of next year, Lifetime will launch "Experience of a Lifetime," a high-tech touring exhibit, said Rick Haskins, Lifetime's executive vice president of marketing. The tour will visit 15 major markets, representing 40 million homes.

"Experience of a Lifetime" will offer women information and tips in six subject areas: marriage and relationships; education and career; health and beauty; family and home; finance; technology and the Internet; and Lifetime's advocacy programs.

Rounding out her remarks by describing Lifetime's audience, Black said, "They're women who know how to change a diaper and how to cut a deal."