Lifetime considering 'Army Wives' and 'Project Runway' spinoffs
Lifetime, under new leadership and looking for breakout hits, may spin off one of its current successes, "Army Wives," to bring female viewers back to the network.
The new project, which hasn't been ordered as a series, will get a debut within "Army Wives" this season. The "embedded pilot" will star an existing popular character, Pamela Moran (played by Brigid Brannagh) who goes back to work as a cop after she splits from her soldier husband. Gabrielle Union, recently seen on "Flash Forward" and the feature "Cadillac Records," will join the story as her partner in the Atlanta PD.
The "Army Wives" episode will set up the story and, depending on audience reaction, serve as the starting point for the new series (with an air date to be determined).
Lifetime, still a top cable draw with women, has lost a considerable amount of its audience in the past few years. (It's seen double-digit decreases in women viewers 18-49, 25-54 and total viewership). Nancy Dubuc, who heads History, took over as president and general manager of sibling A&E TV Networks' channel Lifetime last month with the mandate to find new hit programming.
There are two "Project Runway" spinoff projects in the works, one with former contestants Santino Rice and Austin Scarlett, who'll crisscross the country looking for women in need of fashion makeovers. The other will star "Runway" judge-host Heidi Klum and her husband, pop star Seal, in a couples therapy/coaching show. Both are in development.
Dubuc won't just focus on reality series, though shows like "Ice Road Truckers," "Ax Men" and "Pawn Stars" that she developed for History have reinvigorated the channel and led to the highest ratings since its launch. She's said she wants to build on Lifetime's strengths in original movies and scripted dramas.
"Army Wives," though still strong on the network in its fourth season, just had its lowest-rated season premiere in April with 3.3 million viewers.
-- T.L. Stanley
Top photo: Gabrielle Union at the LG Fashion Touch party in West Hollywood in May. Credit: Mario Anzuoni / Reuters. Bottom photo: Seal and Heidi Klum at the 2009 Academy Awards. Credit: Liz O. Baylen / Los Angeles Times.
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