EXCLUSIVE: Lifetime has greenlighted two-hour original movie/backdoor pilot Sworn to Silence, starring Neve Campbell. The project, based on the book by Linda Castillo, will be executive produced by Unforgettable star Poppy Montgomery and Barbara Lieberman (Lifetime’s upcoming The Pregnancy Project), with Campbell co-executive producing. Additionally, Party Of Five alumna Campbell has signed a development deal with Lifetime for scripted dramas and original movies. Sworn to Silence is set in the Amish farming community of Painter’s Mill, Ohio, which was shaken up by a series of brutal murders 15 years ago. Kate Burkholder (Campbell), who as a young girl survived the terror and left the Amish life behind, now returns to Painter’s Mill as its Chief of Police. But Kate’s renewed life in her hometown is shattered when a murder investigation triggers deep-seated emotions from her childhood and exposes a dark secret that could destroy her. The movie/backdoor pilot will be directed by Stephen Gyllenhaal (Girl Fight) from a script by Mark Malone (Law & Order: Criminal Intent). “I’ve always admired Neve’s work,” Lifetime Networks’ president and general manager Nancy Dubuc said. “She is a proven talent who will bring a high level of intensity and presence to this role and Sworn to Silence.”
After revisiting its movie The Client List into a series, Lifetime is taking the step early with Sworn To Silence, building the series possibility into the film as it goes forward. And, given Lieftime’s substantial longform slate, the network may continue to mine it for potential series in the future. “Growing our scripted programming remains a top priority for Lifetime and our longform strategy provides us with a strong stable from which to identify potential series,” Dubuc said. With Sworn To Silence, Campbell joins Party Of Five co-star Jennifer Love Hewitt at Lifetime. Hewitt’s The Client List followed a similar trajectory as Sworn To Silence. It started off as an original movie and, following its ratings success, was picked up to series with Hewitt starring and executive producing. Like Campbell, Hewitt too was given a development deal by Lifetime in a conjunction with the series.
Campbell, star of the Scream movie franchise, recently completed filming the internationally-produced series Titanic: Blood and Steel with Chris Noth, which is slated for 2012. She is with UTA, U.K.’s Ken McReddie Assoc. and manager Arlene Foster. Sworn To Silence extends Montgomery’s relationship with Lifetime. She recently starred in the network’s biopic Magic Beyond Words: The JK Rowling Story. Sworn To Secrecy joins 2 traditional pilots Lifetime ordered in the last few months: drama pilot Modern Love starring Eric Stoltz and American Housewife starring Melanie Griffith. Additionally, Lifetime and Renée Zellweger are developing the drama series Cinnamon Girl set in the Los Angeles music and movie scenes of the late 1960s/early 1970s.