Lifetime has given a series order to Un-Real, its hourlong pilot starring Shiri Appleby and co-written/executive produced by Marti Noxon. I hear another Lifetime pilot, dystopian-future drama The Lottery, is in negotiations for a series pickup. Meanwhile, the network’s third traditional pilot, HR, is not going forward, with the project starring Alicia Silverstone currently being shopped to other networks. (Lifetime also has movie/backdoor pilot Deliverance Creek, which is yet to air.)
Lifetime has picked up 10 episodes of Un-Real, which will be produced by A+E Studios, making it the first scripted series fully owned by the recently launched in-house production arm of Lifetime parent A+E Networks. The dark comedy, inspired by Sarah Gertrude Shapiro’s award-winning independent short Sequin Raze, was written by Shapiro and Noxon and gives a behind-the-scenes look at the chaos surrounding the production of a dating competition program. “Un-Real is unlike anything that exists on television today,” Lifetime GM Rob Sharenow said. “It’s premium and original on every level, and we’re thrilled that Marti Noxon and Sarah Gertrude Shapiro’s unique series will be Lifetime’s first program produced by A+E Studios.” Un-Real centers on Rachel (Appleby), a young staffer whose sole job is to manipulate her relationships with and among the contestants to get the vital dramatic and outrageous footage the program’s dispassionate executive producer (Megyn Price) demands. What ensues is a humorous, yet vexing, look at what happens in the world of unscripted television, where being a contestant can be vicious and producing it is a whole other reality. Freddie Stroma and Josh Kelly co-star in Un-Real, whose pilot was directed by Roger Kumble. Noxon will executive produce, with Shapiro serving as producer; Sally DeSipio and Bill Davenport will executive produce for Wieden+Kennedy Entertainment.
Paced by its original movies led by Flowers In the Attic (6.1 million viewers), Lifetime just posted its most watched January in six years, logging year-to-year gains of +13% among total viewers, +10% with women 18-49, +8% in adults 18-49. The network also has had success with original scripted series, with both of its 2013 entries, Devious Maids and Witches Of East End, earning second season renewals.