EXCLUSIVE: An updated version of Highway to Heaven is coming to the small screen. Lifetime has greenlighted event movie series Highway To Heaven, a modern take on the classic Michael Landon TV series, starring Grammy winner Jill Scott (First Wives Club) in a gender-switching lead role, and Barry Watson (The Loudest Voice). Scott also serves as an executive producer.
Scott stars as new angel Angela who comes down to Earth to help people in crisis. Landon played the male version of the character in the original series, the angel Jonathan, who was sent to Earth to help people in need. Watson portrays Junior High School principal Bruce to whom Angela reveals her true identity.
Cast also includes Ben Daon (The Astronauts), Robert Moloney (Riverdale, You Me Her) and Ashley Ross (A Series of Unfortunate Events).
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In cooperation with Cindy Landon and the Michael Landon Estate, the movies are inspired by the highly-rated ’80s drama that ran for five seasons and more than 100 episodes from 1984 to 1989 on NBC. With a constant theme throughout of love and kindness, the reboot aims to inspire hope and community as it addresses contemporary social and emotional issues, this time with a female angel as the anchor of the movie series.
In the premiere movie, Angela (Scott) assumes the role of a temporary school counselor and finds herself working alongside the principal Bruce (Watson) as she intervenes in the lives of a troubled student Cody (Daon) and his father Jeff (Moloney) after the tragic loss of Cody’s mother, Melissa (Ross). As Angela seemingly works miracles with Cody and Jeff, Bruce is in disbelief when he learns of the divine nature of Angela’s work.
The project marks a reunion for Lifetime and Scott, who previously starred in the Emmy-nominated Flint centered on the water crisis, the all-African American reboot of Steel Magnolias and Sins of the Mother. Watson also returns to Lifetime for his first non-holiday movie role for the network, having previously starred in A Very Nutty Christmas and The Santa Con.
“The original Highway to Heaven was appointment viewing for millions and in a time when we need those messages of hope the most, we are excited to bring back the iconic series in a new way, said Tanya Lopez, EVP, Scripted Programming, Lifetime & LMN. “Having worked with Jill previously for some of Lifetime’s most celebrated movies, we know she is the perfect actor to bring her passion and brilliance to this role. I just love her…Jill amplifies everything she touches in ways that make her pop off the screen. And the addition of Barry was just icing on the cake. I believe we have assembled a dynamic new duo with both Jill and Barry at the helm.”
The first installment of the Highway to Heaven series is produced by Rain Productions and Propagate for Lifetime. Jonathan Baruch and Rob Wolken executive produce for Rain Productions; Ben Silverman, Howard T. Owens, Gregory Lipstone, and Rodney Ferrell executive produce from Propagate; Howard Braunstein is executive producer; Jill Scott and Shawn Gee also executive produce. Stacey K. Black directs from an original script by executive producer/writer Cathryn Humphris and award-winning playwright Angelica Cheri. Cindy Landon and Wayne Lepoff are Executive Producing on behalf of Michael Landon’s estate.
Scott currently plays Hazel in BET+’s The First Wives Club, and is the host of J.ill the Podcast. Her July 2000 debut album, “Who is Jill Scott? Words & Sounds, Vol. 1,” went double platinum and earned Scott several Grammy nominations, including Best New Artist. Later she went on to have the #1 album in the country with “The Light of The Sun” and performed at The White House. Scott penned The Moments, The Minutes, The Hours, a compilation of poems that instantly became a New York Times bestseller. She also is the founder of Blues Babe, a registered 501(c)3 foundation that supports minority students pursuing college degrees. Scott is repped by UTA and Maverick.
Watson soon will be seen starring in the CW superhero drama Naomi, based on the DC Comic. He most recently appeared opposite Russell Crowe in Showtime’s limited series The Loudest Voice, chronicling the rise and fall of former Fox News Chairman, Roger Ailes. He also was the lead of the Hulu/Blumhouse Production film The Current Occupant and in Sony’s A Dog’s Way Home. Watson’s breakout role was on 7th Heaven, starring as Matt Camden for six seasons. Watson is repped by Innovative Artists and Trademark Talent.
Cheri is repped by APA and Rain Group Management.
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