Lifetime started expanding into unscripted programming in mid-2010 when Nancy Dubuc took over the network, known until then for TV movies and female-skewing drama series. It took a few years for reality series to get traction and viewers to begin associating Lifetime with such programming, with the 2011 Dance Moms as the only breakout. Things picked up last year after the hire of Bravo’s Eli Lehrer as head of non-fiction development. Lifetime’s unscripted slate took hold, producing such new hits as Bring It! and True Tori, and now drives the network’s ratings growth at a lower price point than scripted fare.
So it is not surprising that Lifetime has picked up four new unscripted programs: Born In The Wild, a series about natural child birth in the wild; the complete makeover series Girlfriend Intervention; the docu-sitcom Kosher Soul, which follows hip-hop tastemaker O’Neal McKnight and his fiancée, celebrity stylist Miriam Sternoff; and the reality-competition show Threads, from the producers of Project Runway and featuring Vanessa Simmons and Christian Siriano, in which skilled teen and tween fashion designers showcase their gift for style.
Additionally, Lifetime has put three unscripted projects in development: the extreme dental makeover show Smile; the competition-reality series Worst Stylist Ever, which pits America’s most feared hair stylists against one another; and Ugly Models, a docu-series from rock icon Gene Simmons, Jon Murray, Jeff Jenkins and Gil Goldschein that looks at the world’s leading modeling agency focused on representing unusual looking people. “As we continue to raise the bar across all of our programming, unscripted is playing an important role in placing Lifetime in the cultural zeitgeist and introducing the network to the next generation of our viewers,” said Lifetime general manager Rob Sharenow. Here are descriptions of Lifetime newly picked up reality series and projects in development:
ABOUT BORN IN THE WILD
For expecting mothers and fathers in their third trimester of pregnancy, things couldn’t get much wilder. From the mood swings and false alarms to the crazy food cravings, learning to expect the unexpected becomes a way of life in the final days leading up to birth. But what happens when the craziest experience of a woman’s life becomes truly wild, and soon-to-be parents decide to take on an unassisted birth in the outdoors? Born in the Wild will document the journeys of young, expectant parents who have chosen to give birth “in the wild.”
Produced by Matador, Born in the Wild is executive produced by Jay Peterson, Todd Lubin, Yoshi Stone, alongside Lifetime’s Eli Lehrer, Mary Donahue and Mariana Flynn. Lifetime has ordered eight hour-long episodes of Born in the Wild.
ABOUT GIRLFRIEND INTERVENTION
Girlfriend Intervention stars four wise, poised and stylish African American women, who, in each episode, help a white sister seeking a complete makeover to restore her confidence and inner glow. Making over their wardrobes, beauty routines, homes and minds, they teach these women how to embrace and celebrate their lives, speak their mind, lighten up and love themselves again. Our four experts carry themselves with a great deal of pride, style and, most importantly, self-confidence. Where does it come from and how can it be obtained? Who better to teach a woman how to get that sparkle in her eye and spring back in her step? Each week, Girlfriend Intervention follows a woman whose personal space and self-esteem are in desperate need of a major makeover and a life-giving dose of diva inspiration. Our hosts, beauty pro Tracy Balan, home and sanctuary guru Nikki Chu, style and fashion maven Tiffiny Dixon and soul coach Tanisha Thomas, help these women break it down and tell it like it is.
Girlfriend Intervention is produced by World of Wonder. Fenton Bailey, Randy Barbato and Tom Campbell and Marilyn Wilson serve as executive producers, along with Lifetime’s Eli Lehrer, Mary Donahue and Mariana Flynn. Camilla Rahaman is co-executive producer. Lifetime has ordered eight one-hour episodes of Girlfriend Intervention.
ABOUT KOSHER SOUL
This is the swirl like you’ve never seen it before. Celebrity stylist, comedian, sometime performer and reformed man about town O’Neal McKnight is getting married to fellow celebrity fashion stylist Miriam Sternoff, who plays grown-up to his arrested adolescent. O’Neal is African American, from a very rural part of the south; Miriam is Jewish, from the northwest by way of upper-middle-class New York City; and her mom, who strikes terror into O’Neal’s heart, is insistent that their children be raised Jewish. So O’Neal, who had not always been the best boyfriend to Miriam back in the day, is converting in an effort to show he’s serious about marriage and his wife’s belief system. O’Neal and Miriam, and their cosmopolitan circle of Los Angeles friends, spare no sacred cow as they explore and poke fun at the differences in their cultures. We’ll watch emotions run high as Miriam’s family wonders how authentic O’Neal’s conversion is, and these two completely different people try to form a union and live as one. Will their love be able to survive?
Lifetime has ordered 12 half-hour episodes of Kosher Soul, which will be produced by Ish Entertainment. Michael Hirschorn, Melissa Cooper, Wendy Roth, and Rasheed Daniel as well as Lifetime’s Eli Lehrer, Mary Donahue and Mariana Flynn executive produce.
Hosted by Vanessa Simmons (Run’s House) and featuring judges Christian Siriano (Project Runway Season Four winner), Seventeen Fashion Director Gina Kelly and Accessories Editor Jasmine Snow, and YouTube style guru Ingrid Nilsen (@missglamorazzi, 2.5 million subscribers), Threads is a competition series showcasing America’s most talented young fashion designers. Each week, three new contestants pull out their scissors, sketchbooks and skills to see who can out-design the competition and set the new standard for the future of fashion. Challenges will be fast-paced, unpredictable and far from child’s play as these nascent fashion powerhouses compete for a prize package worth $25,000, including $10,000 to be used at any Jo-Ann’s Fabrics & Crafts store or Joann.com, a scholarship to the Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising (FIDM) in Los Angeles and a top of the line sewing and embroidery studio courtesy of Brother International Corporation. Special guests this season include television personality and host Kelly Osbourne, actress, singer and dancer Zendaya and actress and model Jaime King.
Lifetime has ordered eight episodes of Threads, which hails from The Weinstein Company, Full Picture and Sara Rea Productions. Executive producers include Bob and Harvey Weinstein (Co-Chairmen of The Weinstein Company), Meryl Poster, Patrick Reardon and Barbara Schneeweiss of The Weinstein Company, Jane Cha and Desiree Gruber of Full Picture and Sara Rea. Eli Lehrer, Mary Donahue and David Hillman of Lifetime also executive produce.
Imagine having teeth so damaged that you can’t smile. Imagine not dating, working or even leaving the house because of the horrid state of your teeth. For some Americans, this is their shocking reality, and this series explores what happens when they are offered the chance of a lifetime – the chance to smile. Smile is a bold, new hour-long series that documents the emotional and psychological journeys of people attempting to fix their lives by fixing their teeth. The program is from 11th Street Productions and executive produced by Morgan J. Freeman and Dia Sokol Savage. Eli Lehrer, Mary Donahue and Colleen Conway Grogan of Lifetime also executive produce.
ABOUT UGLY MODELS
From executive producers rock icon Gene Simmons, Jon Murray, Jeff Jenkins and Gil Goldschein, the workplace docu-series Ugly Models will chronicle the American expansion of the U.K.-based modeling outfit, which prides itself on being the most successful and one-of-a-kind agency in the world representing character models with unique and unusual looks. Having conquered England, now the company is ready to make a go of it on the other side of the pond, and this project will be there to document the process. Ugly Models is from Bunim-Murray Productions. Eli Lehrer, Mary Donahue and Mariana Flynn of Lifetime also executive produce.
ABOUT WORST STYLIST EVER
Worst Stylist Ever is a competition-reality show that will redefine the term “bad hair day.” Each self-contained episode of this series will feature four of the world’s most inadequate hair stylists as they are put through a series of challenges to determine the best of the worst. At stake each week is a scholarship to a prestigious beauty school and perhaps the opportunity to finally learn how to stop savaging women’s hair and have a chance at a career. Produced by Haymaker, Worst Stylist Ever will be executive produced by Aaron Rothman and Irad Eyal, and Eli Lehrer, Mary Donahue and Paul Hardy of Lifetime.