“Finally, we are seeing something long overdue: national recognition of female leaders and appreciation of, and for, their widespread achievements,” said Dan Abrams, host of 60 Days In and Live PD, as he opened A+E Networks’ upfront presentation at the New York Public Library.
While the male U.S. population currently accounts for 49.2 percent of the country, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, A+E Networks was only about the power of women at the lively gathering Thursday night.
The event mirrored last year, when A+E-owned networks—History, Lifetime, Viceland, Biography and A&E – traded traditional upfront presentations for more casual discussions from its executives about which TV shows impacted their lives
This time featured another round of storytelling in what was billed as a “women’s upfront.” Featured presenters, including Toni Braxton, Marcia Clark, Kristin Davis, Meg Gill, Olivia Munn, Mallory Pugh, Queen Latifah and Leah Remini, highlighted contributions from a female perspective.
The presentation came on the heels of A+E CEO Nancy Dubuc’s abrupt departure just three days earlier. Dubuc, who is heading to Vice Media as its new CEO, did not attend the presentation, despite Vice Media’s Viceland being represented.
Abbe Raven, former CEO of A+E Networks who retired in 2015, has stepped in as acting chair until a permanent replacement is announced.
“I was literally there when they turned the lights on at this company,” said Raven, who initially exited after 34 years. “I have been proud to be part of creating and growing this great company into one of the most powerful portfolios in all of cable. They have forged a connection with our audience that is stronger than ever in today’s crowded media landscape.”
New Programming Initiatives
A+E Networks revealed many new programming initiatives that featured a female-forward tone.
Upcoming projects include a quartet of new docuseries at A&E: Many Sides of Jane, the story of a single mother with multiple personalities; The Accused, which takes a look at what happens to defendants accused of a crime they didn’t commit; Lost for Life, focusing on a new recent Supreme Court decision resulting in a second chance for those sentenced to mandatory life without parole; and Employable Me, in which adults with disabilities search for jobs to match unique abilities.
History announced plans for History 109”, a film documentary series focused on the most compelling events and notable figures from the last 100 years. The first batch of eight films will include the Mercury 13 group of prospective female astronauts that ignited an early public debate on gender equality, and a profile of Soviet politician Mikhail Gorbachev.
History also will feature three-hour event Evel Live as part of the network’s second annual car week and in honor of legendary daredevil Evel Knievel.
Lifetime, meanwhile, has signed production deals with Toni Braxton on a multi-picture deal, and with Queen Latifah for documentary specials Where Did the Women of Hip Hop Go? and U.N.I.T.Y, which features Latifah as she remakes her hit single from 1993.
Lifetime also picked up docuseries Raising Tourette’s, focusing on teens dealing with Tourette Syndrome; and Seatbelt Psychic, with medium Thomas John offering readings in a vehicle to unsuspecting passengers.
And, on September 9, a revival of the classic movie The Bad Seed (starring and directed by Rob Lowe) will lead into new scripted psychological thriller You from Greg Berlanti. Gossip Girl’s Penn Badgley stars as a brilliant bookstore manager whose interest in one of his customers turns into an obsession.
Lifetime also will introduce 14 new original holiday-themed movies in November and December.