Upfronts 2015: Oprah Winfrey Network also orders additional episodes of “Deion’s Family Playbook,” “Flex & Shanice” and “Welcome to Sweetie Pie’s”
The Oprah Winfrey Network announced that it has ordered two new series, ordered additional episodes of three shows from its Saturday night lineup, and revealed its first batch of stars on the upcoming fifth season of “Oprah’s Master Class” during its upfront presentation to advertisers in New York City on Wednesday.
“Evelyn” (Working Title), which stars VH1’s “Basketball Wives” star Evelyn Lozada, is scheduled to premiere in July. It will follow Lozada and her 21-year-old daughter Shaniece, both of whom are experiencing big changes in their lives. Lozada and fiancé, baseball player Carl Crawford, just had a son, Carl Leo jr., in March. Lozada will have to learn how to balance her many business opportunities with being a new mother. Meanwhile, Shaniece’s modeling career is taking off.
“We are thrilled that OWN continues to be one of the fastest growing cable networks for women. Oprah and our team are laser-focused on development,” said OWN president Erik Logan in a statement.
OWN will also focus on controversial “Iyanla: Fix My Life” guest Jay Williams on an untitled spinoff series set to premiere in September. It will follow the man who fathered 34 children with 11 different women as he tries to bring order to his life with Vanzant’s guidance.
In addition to the new series pickups, OWN has ordered additional episodes of “Deion’s Family Playbook,” “Flex & Shanice” and “Welcome to Sweetie Pie’s” after successful runs during the channel’s Saturday night lineup. “Deion’s Family Playbook,” which returns Saturday, May 9 at 9 p.m., was the highest rated freshman docu-series in OWN history. “Flex & Shanice” is slated for a July return. And “Welcome to Sweetie Pie’s,” which is currently airing its third season on Saturdays at 9 p.m., is Saturday night’s No. 1 original cable series across all of TV for African-American women and total viewers. All three series have ranked in the Top 5 original cable series on Saturday nights for African-American women.
OWN also revealed that the upcoming fifth season of “Oprah’s Master Class” will feature Ellen DeGeneres“>Ellen DeGeneres, Robert Duvall, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson and Smokey Robinson, among others to be announced at a later date.
“We are taking our multimedia platforms to the next level with Oprah’s first role in an OWN scripted show and our new network anthem sung by Grammy award-winning singers Jennifer Hudson and Jennifer Nettles,” said OWN president Sheri Salata.
See OWN’s show descriptions below:
“Evelyn” (Working Title – Premieres July 2015)
“Evelyn” (working title) follows the lives of Evelyn Lozada, of “Basketball Wives” fame, and her 21-year-old daughter Shaniece. Evelyn is engaged to big league baseball player Carl Crawford and the couple just welcomed their first child, Carl Leo Jr., to the family last March. Between learning to be a mom all over again, setting up a new home in Los Angeles for her and her family, running several businesses as well as dealing with issues surrounding her family back East… Evelyn has a lot going on! Not to be outdone, her daughter Shaniece’s modeling career is taking off resulting in a flood of business opportunities with no clear choice of which to pursue, leaning on her mom for advice which she (sometimes) takes. Each episode is filled with close friends and relatives in the ladies’ lives who help round out a world filled with laughter, support, encouragement and tears as we follow Shaniece carving out the new life before her and Evelyn finally feeling like she has the life she deserves. The series is produced by Shed Media with Pam Healey, John Hesling, Lisa Shannon, Russ Heldt and Evelyn Lozada as executive producers.
“Untitled Jay Williams Project” (Working Title – Premieres September 2015)
On the heels of the highly-rated and controversial “Iyanla: Fix My Life” multi-part “mega fix” featuring Atlanta resident Jay Williams who says he fathered 34 children with 17 different women, OWN follows Jay as he works to put his life and relationships in order. With spiritual life coach Iyanla Vanzant holding him accountable every step of the way, OWN’s cameras follow Jay as he works to heal and establish new connections with his family, his children and the mothers of his children. He says that he wants to change and to be the best father he can be, but his extreme situation will challenge his best intentions and whether or not he can live up to all the responsibility. The series is co-produced by OWN and Evolution Media.
“Deion’s Family Playbook” (Season two premieres Saturday, May 9 at 9 p.m. ET/PT)
“Deion’s Family Playbook” is the fun-filled and compelling real-life story of Hall of Fame football legend and celebrated baseball star, Deion Sanders. Deion, best known as “Prime Time,” is a single father raising his own five children (Deiondra, Bucky, Shilo, Shedeur and Shelomi) and also caring for five more (Tia, Florida, Heaven, Neveah and TJ) in hopes of providing them a better life. Raising ten kids isn’t easy, but with the help of his mother, Connie, his house manager “Aunt” Vette, and longtime girlfriend, Hollywood producer Tracey Edmonds, Deion manages to contain the chaos… most of the time. “Deion’s Family Playbook” is produced by Edmonds Entertainment, Prime Time Media Ventures and Rogue Atlas Productions in association with Lionsgate Television. Executive producers are Tracey E. Edmonds, Eli Frankel, Deion Sanders and Rob Cornick.
“Flex & Shanice” (Returns Saturdays in July 2015)
“Flex & Shanice” follows the lives of husband and wife duo, actor Flex Alexander (“One on One”), pop singer Shanice (“I Love Your Smile”) and their extended family all living together under one roof. From the outside looking in, Flex and Shanice are living the dream — they are beautiful celebrities with a long-standing marriage, gorgeous kids and a lovely home in suburbia. But what this fairytale couple has been hiding from the world is that they have been struggling financially for the past five years. So they moved their hilarious extended family in to help make ends meet, but nine people under one roof can add just as much stress as it relieves. While Flex hustles to support the family and kickstart his career, Shanice struggles to balance being a mom with her demanding new recording schedule. This family is just trying to hold it together for long enough to capture that one big break that could turn their luck around. “Flex & Shanice” is produced by Lynch-Dyson Entertainment. Executive producers are Jeff Dyson, Vernon Lynch, Julie Pizzi and Patty Ivins.
“Welcome to Sweetie Pie’s” (Saturdays at 9 p.m. ET/PT)
When Robbie Montgomery, a 1960s backup singer and former Ikette, suffered a collapsed lung and had to stop singing, she decided to pour her talents into another creative venture: a soul food restaurant called Sweetie Pie’s. At her family-centered eateries – which include the original Sweetie Pie’s in West Florissant (closed temporarily), Sweetie Pie’s at the Mangrove and Sweetie Pie’s Upper Crust – run by Miss Robbie and her son, Tim, both hilarity and drama are offered in equal measure. This season, Tim is all business as he hustles to open a new drive-thru restaurant that he hopes will revolutionize the Sweetie Pie’s brand, but Miss Robbie has her heart set on a railway dining car restaurant on the other side of the country. This docu-series follows the loud, loving and often singing Montgomery family as they work to expand their empire, one soulful dish at a time. “Welcome to Sweetie Pie’s” is produced by Pilgrim Studios. Executive producers are Craig Piligian, Melodie Calvert, Jeff Keane, Tim Breitbach and Steve Luebbert.
“Oprah’s Master Class” (Premieres 2015)
The acclaimed Emmy-nominated series “Oprah’s Master Class,” winner of NAACP and Gracie Awards this year, returns for its fifth season this fall. Featuring unprecedented first-person insight into the brilliant minds of entertainers we love, respect and admire, “Oprah’s Master Class” tells the stories you’ve never heard from the people you thought you knew best. Hand-picked by Oprah Winfrey for their unique impact on the world, true modern masters share the greatest lessons they’ve learned along the way, including their successes, failures, triumphs, disappointments and heartbreaks. From award-winning actors and musicians to groundbreaking icons, this all-new season begins with multiple Emmy-winning host Ellen DeGeneres, film legend Robert Duvall, one of the biggest box office draws of all-time Dwayne “the Rock” Johnson and Grammy Living Legend Award winner Smokey Robinson among others. “Oprah’s Master Class” is co-produced by the award-winning production companies, Harpo Studios and @radical.media. The series is executive produced by Oprah Winfrey, Jon Sinclair, Jon Kamen and Justin Wilkes.