OWN: Oprah Winfrey Network announced today six-time Grammy-winning artist and actress Toni Braxton is set to star as Darlene Love in the network’s first scripted TV film My Name Is Love: The Darlene Love Story. In addition, superstar Justin Timberlake will kick off a star-studded new season of Oprah’s Master Class on May 11, and Oscar-winning actress Octavia Spencer will star in a two-night event mini-series Tulsa (working title) currently in development.
The network also announced today a groundbreaking seven-part television event Belief presented by Oprah Winfrey, which explores humankind’s search for meaning and connection. Also, Tyler Perry’s popular drama series The Haves And The Have Nots and previously announced new series Single Moms Club (working title) each have received 20-episode orders. Here’s a look at the shows:
“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.
“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.
Last month, OWN announced the upcoming fifth season of documentary series Our America With Lisa Ling would be its last. The cancellation is a significant because of Our America‘s place in OWN’s history. Premiering in February 2011, Our America was part of the network’s inaugural slate of unscripted series aimed at “empowering” women.