EXCLUSIVE: Lifetime has begun production on four new movies based on V.C. Andrews’ Casteel Family book series, all for premiere on the cable network this year. They are among 75 films planned on the network for 2019 as part of an ambitious slate.
Last summer, under new A+E Networks CEO Paul Buccieri, Lifetime made a change in its programming strategy, putting emphasis back on original movies and using them as backdoor pilots over traditional series development.
Lifetime announced last year it was developing five films based on Andrews’ last known book series, about the twisted relationships of the Casteel Family. The first, Heaven, was filmed last year, and you can watch the first-look trailer above. The remaining four are Dark Angel, Fallen Hearts, Gates of Paradise and Web of Dreams. The movie event series follows Heaven Casteel and her siblings after their father devises a scheme that threatens to destroy their dreams and separate the family forever.
As previously announced, Heaven, stars Annalise Basso (Captain Fantastic), Julie Benz (Dexter), Chris William Martin (The Vampire Diaries), and Chris McNally (Altered Carbon). Basso and Martin will return for the second and third installments, Dark Angel and Fallen Hearts, joined by Jason Priestley (Private Eyes, Beverly Hills, 90210) and Kelly Rutherford (Gossip Girl, Melrose Place). Priestley is also set to direct Fallen Hearts.
Priestley returns and stars in Gates of Paradise alongside Daphne Zuniga (Witness Unprotected, Melrose Place). Additionally, Lizzie Boys (Winter’s Dream) and Keenan Tracey have also been cast to star in Gates of Paradise and Web of Dreams. Jennifer Laporte (Freaky Friday), Max Lloyd-Jones (War for the Planet of the Apes) and Cindy Busby (The Big Year) also star in Web of Dreams.
Heaven, Dark Angel and Fallen Hearts casts also include James Rittinger, Matthew Nelson-Mahood, Jessica Clement, Samantha Coughlan. Additional Heaven cast members include Christian Convery and Madeline Hirvonen. Gates of Paradise also stars Johannah Newmarch (older Heaven), Jason Cermak, Michael Karl Richards, Pauline Egan, and Ben Sullivan. And the Web of Dreams cast also includes Liam Hughes, Tom Donadt, and David Lewis.
Heaven introduces the infamous Casteel family, the least regarded of all the families living in the poverty-stricken foothills of the mountains of West Virginia. Yet the eldest daughter, Heaven Leigh Casteel (Basso), was still the smartest girl in the backwoods and determined to redeem her family name. However, her dreams become deferred the day her stepmother flees and her selfish father Luke (Martin) sells her and her four siblings to different families. Heaven is sent to live in the home of Luke’s deranged ex-lover, Kitty (Benz), who torments Heaven as Kitty’s husband, Cal (McNally) lures Heaven into a forbidden relationship while she fights to reunite her siblings.
Dark Angel picks up directly after Heaven (Basso) finds a new life in her estranged grandmother and grandfather, Jillian (Rutherford) and Tony Tatterton’s (Priestley) exquisite Boston mansion, Farthinggale Manor. But even in the world of the wealthy, there are strange forebodings, secrets best forgotten. As Heaven reaches out for love, she is slowly ensnared in a sinister web of cruel deceits.
Based on the third book, Fallen Hearts follows Heaven (Basso), now happily married and ready to settle back in her hometown. But after a trip to Farthinggale Manor, Heaven is persuaded to stay. Lured by her grandfather Tony Tatterton (Priestley) to live amidst the wealthy and privileged Heaven seems to have it all until the ghosts of her past rise up once more, threatening her precious new life.
Gates of Paradise quickly turns tragic when Heaven’s daughter Annie (Boys) finds herself orphaned and crippled. Whisked off to Farthinggale Manor by Tony Tatterton (Priestley), Annie pines for her lost family, especially for her half-brother Luke (Tracey). Without the warm glow of Luke’s love, she is lost in the shadows of despair and forced into submission by Nurse Broadfield (Zuniga). When Annie discovers a cottage hidden in Farthinggale’s woods, the mystery of her past deepens. Even as she yearns to see Luke again, her hopes and dreams are darkened by the sinister Casteel spell.
Based on the fifth and final novel of the Casteel series the prequel, Web of Dreams finally unlocks the mysteries of the family. Heaven’s mother Leigh (LaPorte) had to escape from Farthinggale Manor and the secrets she harbored. Falling into the arms of Luke Casteel Sr. (Donadt), his devotion promised her hope as only Luke knew her deepest of secrets. Bravely she bore the suspicions of the hill folk, as she tried to grasp the happiness that long eluded her. With a baby girl, Heaven, on the way, she hoped for a chance at happy ever after.
Heaven is produced by Front Street Pictures for Lifetime. Executive producers are Harvey Kahn, Dan Angel, Jane Startz, Tom Mazza, Juliet Smith, and Marnie Termuende. Scarlett Lacey wrote the script for Heaven, directed by Paul Shapiro.
Dark Angel, Fallen Hearts, Gates of Paradise and Web of Dreams are all produced by Neshama Entertainment and Really Real Films for Lifetime. Jane Startz, Dan Angel, Ric Nish, Cynde Harmon, and Arnie Zipursky serve as executive producers. Dark Angel and Fallen Hearts are also written by Scarlett Lacey. Paul Shapiro directs Dark Angel while Jason Priestley directs Fallen Hearts.
Gail Harvey directs Gates of Paradise from a screenplay by Gregory Small and Richard Blaney. Web of Dreams is written by AC Cochran and Mike Rohl is set to direct.