After the success of docu-series Surviving R. Kelly, Lifetime is staying on that programming track, greenlighting such series as Surviving R. Kelly: The Aftermath and Surviving Jeffrey Epstein, Rob Sharenow, president, programming, A+E Networks, said Tuesday at summer press tour at the Beverly Hilton in Los Angeles.
Lifetime also has ordered a biopic from radio deejay and syndicated talk-show host Wendy Williams, who recently came under media scrutiny as her marriage crumbled, and a movie about the college admissions scandal that embroiled such stars as Lori Loughlin and Felicity Huffman.
Surviving R. Kelly: The Aftermath follows up on the events that took place after the initial documentary aired and revealed so many of Kelly’s crimes that had not been prosecuted. Kelly now faces federal and state charges. The new documentary includes interviews with new survivors, psychologists and experts. Surviving R. Kelly was seen by more than 26.8 million people and is nominated for an Emmy for outstanding informational series.
Surviving R. Kelly: The Aftermath will be executive produced by Joel Karsberg and Jessie Daniels of Kreative Inc., as well as dream hampton, Tamra Simmons, Maria Pepin with Bunim-Murray Productions and Brie Miranda Bryant for Lifetime. Sudi Khosropur is co-executive producer and showrunner for Surviving R. Kelly: The Aftermath.
In a similar vein, Lifetime has commissioned Surviving Jeffrey Epstein, an investigative documentary that will examine the life of the billionaire New York financier who is alleged to have used his connections to shield his unsavory activities involving underage girls. Epstein is a registered sex offender who allegedly continued to commit sex crimes with minors for more than two decades while his enablers protected him.
Surviving Jeffrey Epstein is in development with Robert Friedman’s Bungalow Media + Entertainment in association with filmmakers Anne Sundberg and Ricki Stern. Sundberg and Stern will direct. Journalist Christopher Mason, a long-time contributor to The New York Times, New York Magazine, Town & Country and Architectural Digest, also is attached to the project.
Taking on another topic that’s been in the zeitgeist, Lifetime has greenlit a two-hour movie titled College Admissions Scandal. The made-for-TV movie will tell the story of how more than 50 elite individuals—including Loughlin and Huffman—criminally conspired to influence undergraduate admissions at some of the country’s top colleges.
College Admissions Scandal is produced by Varsity Films Inc. The film is executive produced by Gail Katz and Howard Braunstein. Adam Salky will direct from a script by Stephen Tolkin.
Lifetime also is producing a biopic on the life of radio deejay and syndicated TV personality Wendy Williams, who authorized the film and will executive produce. The movie about Williams’ life comes from Will Packer Media and will go into production this fall for a 2020 debut. Leigh Davenport is writing the script. The biopic will be accompanied with a documentary on Williams’ life, produced by Entertainment One and Creature Films.
Lifetime also set a premiere date of Oct. 19 for its new made-for-TV movie, Patsy & Loretta, which tells the story of country-music stars Patsy Cline and Loretta Lynn and stars Megan Hilty as Cline and Jessie Mueller as Lynn.