At Paramount Network, First Wives Club starring Ryan Michelle Bathe, Jill Scott and Michelle Buteau was slated to launch the network’s new Thursday dramedy night in January. It was be followed by Younger Season 6 and new series Emily in Paris, both from Darren Star, slated to debut on the same night in spring and summer, respectively.
I hear the concept for a dramedy-branded night on Paramount Network is now being reevaluated, along with the future of Younger and Emily in Paris on the network. The former had been a hit on TV Land for five seasons and, while the comedy-focused Viacom channel recently canceled its last remaining original scripted series, Teachers, it left the door open to featuring such content in the future.
Meanwhile, Paramount Network, designated as Viacom’s leading scripted programming brand, remains fully committed to scripted series with a number of projects in the pipeline.
Moving the Paramount TV-produced First Wives Club to BET makes sense given the project’s evolution. The reboot of the 1996 Paramount movie was first developed with a different writer at TV Land where it went to pilot starring Alyson Hannigan, Megan Hilty and Vanessa Lachey. While the network ultimately passed on the pilot, its head of programming Keith Cox left the project in redevelopment and took it with him when he added oversight of programming for Paramount Network.
There, Girls Trip co-writer Tracy Oliver took a stab at the concept and reimagined it with African American leads, played by Bathe, Scott and Buteau. The project sailed through development, landing a 10-episode order.
“We are thrilled that Tracy Oliver and Paramount Television’s First Wives Club will be coming to BET Networks,” the company said in a statement. “We have been big fans of Tracy, the project and its incredible cast all along. The concept she has for the series fits perfectly with our programming strategy of character-driven content anchored in the Black experience, and it aligns seamlessly with our core audience. We are currently working closely with Paramount Television on Boomerang and are excited to continue working with them on this project.”
The First Wives Club series, like the movie that starred Diane Keaton, Bette Midler and Goldie Hawn, is set in New York City. It follows Ari (Bathe), Bree (Buteau) and Hazel (Scott), who band together after their marriages fall apart and find strength in their sisterhood — and of course a little revenge.
Oliver is writing the series and executive producing with Karen Rosenfelt and Scott Rudin, a producer on the First Wives Club movie that, in turn, was based on the 1992 novel by Olivia Goldsmith. Tony Hernandez of JAX Media also serves as executive producer.
So far, since the January 2017 Viacom realignment of networks into flagship and reinforcing brands, there has been a slew of scripted series changing homes. That includes American Woman, Heathers, Nobodies and Younger moving from TV Land to Paramount Network; Hit the Floor and The Breaks going from VH1 to BET; and The Shannara Chronicles from MTV to Paramount Network predecessor Spike.