Lifetime Taps Grey's Producer, Roberts Novels

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Pasadena, Calif. -- The producer of ABC hit Grey's Anatomy will bring his expertise in large ensemble drama to Lifetime Television this summer with the debut of Army Wives.

The network will also cablecast three original movies based on novels by prolific writer Nora Roberts.

Army Wives, shot in HD, will begin production in February in South Carolina. Lifetime ordered 13 episodes of the show, which will star Kim Delany (NYPDBlue) and Catherine Bell (JAG).So far, only the pilot has been shot.

Although the contemporary series focuses on service wives, the show will depict the emotional impact of military conflict on families and eschew politics, producer Mark Gordon said.

The core of the drama is the friendship of several Army spouses, including one husband, played by Sterling K. Brown. Queried about being the "fox in the henhouse," the African-American actor said he was happy to be playing someone who isn't a "criminal or a cop."

They series is filming in the Southeast drawn by the availability of a shuttered Navy base and great tax incentives, Gordon said.

Gordon indicated that he's still not sold that every series should be shot in HD. There's still a richness to film that makes that technology desirable, he said. There are some savings achieved by shooting in an HD format, he added, but "it doesn't look like film. It just doesn't.”

The show will debut on the network sometime in June.

The Nora Roberts movies will be programmed each Monday for four weeks beginning Jan. 29, starting with Angels Fall,starring Heather Locklear. Subsequent films will be Montana Sky with John Corbett Feb. 5; Blue Smoke with Alicia Witt Feb. 12; and Carolina Moon with Claire Forlani Feb. 19.

Lifetime entertainment president Susanne Daniels said the movie series will include an online contest where viewers can identify where and when author Roberts appears in a cameo in each of the movies.

Writers at the network's Television Critics Association Tour presentation here noted that the broadcast networks have given up on telefilms and questioned why Lifetime would invest in the genre. Daniels responded that when she goes to the beach, every woman is reading a Nora Roberts book. That made her say, "Let's make these," she said.

Another drama series is in production: State of Mind, starring Lili Taylor as a therapist whose problems rival those of her patient base; along with original movie And She Was,a story about a middle-aged screenwriter (Kirstie Alley) who tries to beat youth-obsessed Hollywood by sending in a young nephew to pitch her scripts.

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