Lifetime Enlists Dramas

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New York— Hup, two, three.

Lifetime Television will march two more original drama series behind Army Wives in mid-July.

With Army Wives, based on the Tanya Biank book Under the Sabers: The Unwritten Code of Army Wives, set to debut June 3 at 10 p.m., the women’s-targeted network will showcase its first-ever three-show block of original drama series come July 15, when it premieres Marisa Coughlan-starrer Side Order of Life, which looks at a magazine photographer who re-evaluates her life following the her best friend’s cancer diagnosis, and therapist-centered series State of Mind at 8 p.m. and 9 p.m., respectively.

Lifetime president of entertainment Susanne Daniels told media buyers and planners at the network’s upfront presentation here last Tuesday that the service has OK’d the production of more than 60 movies over the next 12 months for both the mother ship and sister service Lifetime Movie Network.

That schedule will be kept even with the departure announced Wednesday of Lifetime Entertainment Services president and CEO Betty Cohen.

All told, network officials said Lifetime will up its programming budget by 31% in 2007, compared with last year, although they declined to reveal specific outlays.

There was also plenty of scripted development news at the upfront, including: The Madness of Jane, about a neurologist diagnosed with bipolar disorder; Mile High, based on the acclaimed British series Sky One; Lovely and Talented, centering on a divorcée who starts an acting class for adult women; Burnt Toast, a dramedy adapted from actress Teri Hatcher’s book of the same name; Bailey Weggins, which looks at the life of a recently divorced New York City investigative reporter at a newsmagazine show; and Chambermaid, tracking a young attorney clerking for a federal judge.

On the reality front, the network will tap Queer Eye for the Straight Guy’s Carson Kressley to host a new “feel-good” reality skein, How to Look Good Naked, which seeks to make women feel better about their own bodies.

Also in the pipeline: Judgment Day, in which the audience will vote off seven women based on how they handle a series of challenges; America’s Psychic Challenge, examining the skills of several psychics; and Going for Broke, a guide to teaching debt-laden women how to live within their means.

On the telefilm watch, Lifetime is looking to: What If God Were the Sun, starring Lacey Chabert as a nurse who forms a connection with a terminally ill patient; Write & Wrong, starring Kirstie Alley as a middle-aged screenwriter who uses her nephew to help sell her scripts to Hollywood; Girl Positive, about a girl who fears that she may be infected with the HIV virus; The Gathering, a dark thriller in which a successful surgeon’s wife vanishes mysteriously; and House of Hilton, chronicling the famed hotelier family.

Lifetime also announced that it will stream full-length movies and episodes of such original series as Army Wives on its Web site, set to relaunch in June.

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