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Paramount Network Announces First Programming Slate, Renews ‘Lip Sync Battle’

Spike to rebrand as Paramount Network in 2018

Viacom’s Paramount Network has unveiled its first programming slate ahead of the network’s 2018 launch, and it includes projects from both Spike and TV Land.

On the scripted side, the network will debut with the “Waco” event series starring Michael Shannon, which had already been in the works at Spike, as well as “American Woman” and the “Heathers” adaptation, which will both be moved over from TV Land. All three are expected to premiere in the first quarter of 2018.

In unscripted, Paramount Network has officially ordered a fourth season of “Lip Sync Battle,” which will premiere in January 2018. Two other successful Spike reality series, “Ink Master” and “Bar Rescue” will also carry over to the new brand, as will the Bellator MMA franchise.

Paramount Network will also debut “I Am Martin Luther King Jr.,” a two-hour documentary about the civil rights hero from filmmaker Derik Murray.

“Our mission is to establish Paramount Network as a prime destination for premium storytelling,” said Kevin Kay, President, Paramount Network, TV Land, and CMT. “From Alicia Silverstone as a trailblazing independent working mother in the 1970’s to Michael Shannon as an FBI negotiator during the Branch Davidians dramatic standoff and siege, Paramount Network will be the home to compelling stories, unforgettable characters, and high quality production with a distinctive global appeal.”

The decision to launch Paramount Network with scripted programming originally slated for the “supporting brand” TV Land — “American Woman,” starring Alicia Silverstone and Mena Suvari, and the “Heathers” TV adaptation were both originally ordered to series at TV Land — is unsurprising given the news last month that Paramount Network president Kevin Kay and TV Land’s head of development Keith Cox would both see their roles expanded to oversee both networks.

The network’s parent company Viacom announced plans to restructure with a “new strategic vision” last month, including increased emphasis on six Viacom brands — BET, Comedy Central, MTV, Nickelodeon, Nick Jr. and Paramount.

Read more about the new programs below:

Starring Alicia Silverstone and Mena Suvari, this new half-hour series is inspired by the real-life upbringing of co-executive producer Kyle Richards (“The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills”). “American Woman” follows Bonnie (Silverstone) an unconventional mother struggling to raise her two daughters after leaving her husband amid the rise of second-wave feminism in the 70s. With the help of her two best friends, Kathleen (Suvari) and Diana (Jennifer Bartels), these three women each discover their own brand of independence in a glamorous and ever-changing world reluctant to give it.

The six-part event series “Waco” will reveal untold story exploring the true life details leading up to and chronicling the 51- day siege between the FBI, AFT and David Koresh’s spiritual sect, The Branch Davidians. Told from several perspectives of those most intimately involved from both sides of the conflict, including surviving Branch Davidians which has never been shared on television before, is surprising in its stark contrast to the media narrative at the time and what is remembered of Waco almost 25 years later. The impressive cast includes Michael Shannon starring as lead FBI negotiator, Gary Noesner with the role of the infamous cult leader, David Koresh, to be played by Taylor Kitsch. John Leguizamo, Paul Sparks, Rory Culkin and Andrea Riseborough round out the “Waco” cast.

Based on the 1988 cult classic film of the same name, “Heathers” is an hour-long pitch-black comedy anthology set in the present day, as heroine Veronica Sawyer (Grace Victoria Cox, “Under the Dome”) deals with a very different but equally vicious group of ‘Heathers.’ Also starring are James Scully as JD, Melanie Field (“Wicked” National Tour) as Heather Chandler, Brendan Scannell (“Funny or Die”) as Heather Duke, and Jasmine Mathews as Heather McNamara. Original “Heathers” cast member Shannen Doherty will guest star as a pivotal, unnamed character as well.

The latest installment in the critically-acclaimed “I Am” series from filmmaker Derik Murray focuses on the legendary American icon, Martin Luther King Jr. Celebrating the life and achievements of our country’s foremost civil rights leader, the two-hour documentary gives an insightful contemporary perspective of Dr. King structured around seminal events of the Civil Rights movement.