Upfronts 2014: Network also plans seven-part exploration of “Belief”
Toni Braxton is starring in OWN’s first scripted TV film, “My Name is Love: The Darlene Love Story,” and Oscar winner Octavia Spencer will star in a two-night miniseries about the largest race riot in U.S. history.
The new season of “Oprah’s Master Class,” meanwhile, will premiere May 11 with Justin Timberlake. And the network also plans a seven-part series called “Belief” about humankind’s search for meaning and connection.
The Tyler Perry series “The Haves and Have Nots,” and the new series “Single Moms Club” (a working title, each received 20-episode orders.
Discovery is developing the Spencer project, tentatively titled “Tulsa.” It tells the story of race rioting in which more than 300 people were believed to have been murdered. It centers on Mattie Clay (Spencer), a journalist from Tulsa.
The slate announcement came hours before the network, owned by Oprah Winfrey and the Discovery Network, pitches its new lineup to advertisers at its upfront presentation in New York.
“Coming off our most watched quarter in network history, we are excited to get to work on these new scripted projects with Octavia and Toni,” said Erik Logan, president of OWN. “By diversifying our programming, we are also growing our audience, and these new projects put us in a great position to take the network to the next level.”
“Oprah, Erik, and I have big dreams for OWN and you are seeing them come true,” added Sheri Salata, president OWN. “With multiple scripted films and series in active development, Justin Timberlake headlining our brand new season of ‘Oprah’s Master Class’ and the addition of an epic worldwide event like ‘Belief,’ we are thrilled about what the future holds.”
Here are details of the shows, as described by OWN:
“My Name is Love: The Darlene Love Story” – Premieres December 2014
Executive produced by Oprah Winfrey and Academy Award-winning filmmaker Morgan Neville (“Twenty Feet From Stardom”), “My Name is Love: The Darlene Love Story” features the story of one of the 1960’s iconic musical voices, Darlene Love. Love began cutting records for producer Phil Spector right out of high school, and went on to work with some of the greatest musical talents in history, including Elvis Presley, Aretha Franklin, Frank Sinatra and Bruce Springsteen. Whether it was the wild parties Tom Jones used to throw, how Elvis came on to her backstage at his 1968 comeback special, or her love affair with Bill Medley of The Righteous Brothers, Love holds nothing back as she recalls the exciting events that make up her life. This is the dishy and dramatic story of a woman who had it all, lost it all, but never, ever refused to give up. Love will also serve as an executive producer. “My Name is Love: The Darlene Love Story” will star Toni Braxton in the title role. The winner of six Grammy awards, seven American Music Awards and nine Billboard Music Awards, R&B superstar and bestselling artist Braxton’s smash hits include “Un-break My Heart,” “Love Shoulda Brought You Home” and “You’re Making Me High.” She also performed an extensive Broadway run as Belle in “Beauty and the Beast.” Most recently she reunited with Kenny “Babyface” Edmonds for a new duets album “Love, Marriage & Divorce,” which has reached the top of the charts, and she made a triumphant return to Broadway with Edmonds in the musical revue “After Midnight.” Braxton’s memoir “Unbreak My Heart” will be released by Harper Collins on May 20.
“Oprah’s Master Class” – Premieres May 11, 2014 at 10 p.m. ET/PT
The acclaimed, Emmy-nominated series “Oprah’s Master Class” returns for its fourth season featuring unprecedented first-person insight into the brilliant minds of entertainers we love, respect and admire, with modern masters hand-picked by Oprah Winfrey for their unique impact on the world. From award-winning actors and musicians to groundbreaking journalists, “Oprah’s Master Class” tells the stories you’ve never heard from the people you thought you knew best. Sharing the greatest lessons they’ve learned along the way from triumphs, failures, disappointments and heartbreaks, this all-new season of masters begins with multiple Grammy and Emmy award-winning actor and musician Justin Timberlake (May 11); followed by the beloved actress and comedian who is among the very few with an Emmy, Grammy, Oscar and Tony award, Whoopi Goldberg (June 1); country music royalty, multi-Grammy award-winning singer, songwriter and actor, Tim McGraw (June 8); Peabody award recipient and “Good Morning America” newscaster, Robin Roberts (June 15); Grammy, Golden Globe and Academy Award-winning music mastermind Lionel Richie (June 22); legendary journalist whose career is unrivaled as a pioneer in the field, the prolific, multi-Emmy award-winning Barbara Walters (June 29); multiple NAACP award-winner and Grammy-nominated singer and actress Vanessa Williams (July 13); Academy Award-winning actor, director, screenwriter and musician Billy Bob Thornton (July 20); and Emmy and Golden Globe award-winning actress Sharon Stone (July 27). “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.
“Tulsa” (working title)
Starring Academy Award-winning actress Octavia Spencer (“The Help”), the two-night event mini-series “Tulsa” currently in development is the story of the largest race riot in U.S. history, where over 300 people were believed to have been murdered in Tulsa, Oklahoma – a story that was largely covered up for decades. The mini-series centers on Mattie Clay (Spencer), a journalist from Tulsa, who moved to Chicago with the hopes of getting off the society pages and away from racism. Mattie’s journey eventually brings her back home to Tulsa where she must face the demons of her past and decide where her future lies. “Tulsa” is executive produced by Nancy Miller (“Saving Grace”). Co-executive producers are Valerie Woods (“Soul Food”) and Dayna North (“Single Ladies”).
“Belief” – Premieres in 2015
Oprah Winfrey presents “Belief,” a groundbreaking television event exploring humankind’s ongoing search to connect with something greater than ourselves. This original, seven-part series allows viewers to witness some of the world’s most fascinating beliefs through the eyes of the believer. Journeying to the far reaches of world, and inside places cameras have rarely been, the real stars of this special are the seven billion people here on earth whose ability to believe in things they can not see, touch or smell, provides comfort, healing and a sense of purpose. “Belief” will search the origins of our faith and the heart of what really matters. From the epic to the intimate, webbed throughout each hour are: an inside look at the largest peaceful gathering in the history of the world, as believers seek redemption along the banks of a sacred river; a gripping story of a free climber who believes there is no greater power than just being present as he clings to the side of a mountain without rope; a 21st century woman reconnecting to ancient ceremonies in hopes of finding a miracle cure; a culture hanging on to its 50,000 year-old history of searching the stars for insight in order to pass it along to a new generation; and, a grieving mother who must grapple with forgiveness as she comes face-to-face with her son’s killer. All of these and many more first-person accounts will leave viewers asking themselves “What do I believe?” “Belief” is co-produced by the award-winning production companies Harpo Studios and Part2Pictures. Executive producers are Oprah Winfrey, Sheri Salata, Jon Sinclair, Jill Van Lokeren, David Shadrack Smith, Greg Henry and Kim Woodard.
“The Haves and the Have Nots” – all-new episodes begin Tuesday, May 27 at 9 p.m. ET/PT
“The Haves and the Have Nots” follows the complicated dynamic between the rich and powerful Cryer family and the hired help who work in their opulent mansion set in Savannah, Georgia. The popular drama series hit network high ratings with its March 11 episode garnering 3.6 million viewers. OWN has ordered 20 additional episodes for a total of 56 through 2015. The series stars John Schneider (“Dukes of Hazzard”) and Tika Sumpter (“Gossip Girl”). “The Haves and the Have Nots” is produced for OWN by Tyler Perry Studios. It is created, written, directed and executive produced by Tyler Perry.
“Single Moms Club” (working title) – series premiere fall 2014
OWN has ordered 20 episodes of the previously announced drama series “Single Moms Club” from prolific writer, director, producer Tyler Perry. The new series tells the compelling story of several women from very different walks of life. Although the group of women has been dealt different circumstances, there is one thing that binds them together — their children. Each woman is a mother struggling to raise their kids, while finding and maintaining romantic relationships with the men they love. “Single Moms Club” is produced by Tyler Perry Studios.