Lifetime is following-up “Surviving R. Kelly” and the “V.C. Andrews’ Casteel Family” movie series, with an investigative four-hour documentary called “Surviving Jeffrey Epstein.” The project joins five new movies based on V.C. Andrews’ Ruby Landry series for the 2020 TV season. Lifetime has also commissioned 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 confirmed a new biopic on the way called “I Was Lorena Bobbitt.” The news was announced today during Lifetime’s session at TCA, by Rob Sharenow, President, Programming, A+E Networks.
The network set a premiere date for the highly anticipated “The Clark Sisters: First Ladies of Gospel,” which will air on April 11th. The film comes 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.
“Surviving Jeffrey Epstein” is part of Lifetime’s “Stop Violence Against Women” initiative, providing a platform and resources for women. According to the network, 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. The docuseries comes from Emmy-winner Robert Friedman, and award-winning filmmakers Anne Sundberg and Ricki Stern will direct the documentary. Long-time contributor to The New York Times, New York Magazine, Town & Country, and Architectural Digest, Christopher Mason, is also attached to the project. Shura Davidson and Gena McCarthy serve as executive producers for Lifetime, and the special will air this summer.
Lifetime and Elizabeth Smart will bring six hour-long specials centering on 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.
The official description reads, “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.” The network added, “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.”
Lifetime has over 100 new titles coming to the network 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. The official description reads, “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.
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