Lifetime has unveiled the premiere dates for their robust slate of winter movies. From music icons to deadly cheerleaders to the daughter of a notorious mob boss, the network isn’t holding back when it comes to the drama — some based on true stories, some not — for 2019.
Highlights of their slate include Love You to Death (January 26) starring Marcia Gay Harden, which is based on the true story of a mother and daughter who are nothing like they seem, their tumultuous relationship ending in a brutal murder. Also based on a true story is Escaping the Madhouse: The Nellie Bly Story (January 19) starring Christina Ricci. The movie is inspired by Nellie Bly’s undercover stay at the impenetrable Women’s Lunatic Asylum. For something a little lighter, there’s Olivia Newton-John: Hopelessly Devoted to You (February 16) which follows the personal and professional journey of the titular Grease icon. Lifetime acquired the biopic for its U.S. premiere.
Other features on the slate include Victoria Gotti: My Father’s Daughter (February 9) which is executive produced by the real-life Victoria Gotti. Lifetime will also bring back the cult classic Death of a Cheerleader (February 2). The remake will see the return of Kellie Martin, who starred in the 1994 original.
Lifetime has also acquired Best Friend’s Betrayal and My Mother’s Split Personalities for January. The network will feature five weeks of premieres every Saturday at 8 pm PT/ET, beginning January 19.
See the complete list and summaries of the features below.
Escaping the Madhouse: The Nellie Bly Story
Starring Christina Ricci, Judith Light and Josh Bowman
The Lifetime feature is inspired by Nellie Bly’s undercover stay at the impenetrable Women’s Lunatic Asylum and stars Golden Globe and Emmy nominated actress Christina Ricci (Monster), two-time Tony award-winner, Golden Globe and Emmy nominee Judith Light (Transparent, The Assassination of Giannni Versace) as Matron Grady and Josh Bowman (Revenge).
On a mission to expose the deplorable conditions and mistreatment of patients at the notorious Women’s Lunatic Asylum, investigative reporter Nellie Bly (Ricci) feigns mental illness in order to be institutionalized to report from the inside. The movie delivers an intense and fictionalized account of actual events surrounding Nellie’s stay beginning after Nellie has undergone treatment, leaving her with no recollection of how she came to the asylum or her real identity. Nellie’s unwillingness to submit to authority results in unspeakable torture at the hands of the head nurse, Matron Grady (Light). When Nellie captures the attention of Dr. Josiah (Bowman) who tries to help her, Grady’s barbaric tactics only intensify, leading Nellie to questions if she actually does belong in the asylum after all.
A real-life hero, Nellie Bly’s expose was the first of its kind in America and inspired the global reformation of mental health care.
Escaping the Madhouse: The Nellie Bly Story is executive produced by Howard Braunstein along with Ricci of Grey Team Productions. Michael Tive, David Sigal, Peter Werner and Jonathan Baruch of StoryBy Entertainment also serve as executive producers with Karen Moncrieff as director (Petals on the Wind) with a screenplay by Helen Childress (Reality Bites).
Love You to Death
Starring Marcia Gay Harden, Emily Skeggs and Tate Donovan
Inspired by a true story, Love You to Death is a shocking tale of a mother and daughter who are nothing like they seem, their tumultuous relationship ending in a brutal murder. Camile (Oscar winner Marcia Gay Harden, Fifty Shades features, Code Black, Point Blank) and Esme (Emily Skeggs, Miseducation of Cameron Post, Mile 22) are well-known in their community – Esme as the sickly, child-like wheelchair-bound daughter, and Camile as the perfect caretaker and mother. They seem a perfect pair until Camile is found stabbed to death in her home, and Esme has vanished, believed to be kidnapped by the killer. But when Esme is found, a terrible secret emerges. Esme was not kidnapped. Instead she ran away with her boyfriend (Brennan Keel Cook) after working with him to murder Camile. More than that, Esme is perfectly healthy, mentally and physically, and has been a victim of Munchausen Syndrome by Proxy, forced to believe she was ill by her controlling, abusive mother.
Tate Donovan (The Man in The High Castle) plays Travis, Esme’s estranged father who tries to reconnect with his daughter, despite her mother’s objections.
Marcia Gay Harden is repped by ICM Partners and Framework Entertainment.
Love You to Death is produced by Sony Pictures Television and Davis Entertainment Television. Executive producers are Jordan Davis and John Davis. Alex Kalymnios directs from a script written by Anthony Jaswinski.
Death of a Cheerleader
Stars Kellie Martin, Aubrey Peeples and Sarah Dugdale
In a remake of the cult-classic, Death of a Cheerleader is inspired by Randall Sullivan’s Rolling Stone article of the same name about the real-life murder of a popular, affluent and beautiful Northern California high school cheerleader at the hand of a classmate. Bridget Moretti (Aubrey Peeples) is a shy outsider from a lower middle-class background who aspires to be beautiful, popular and perfect in everything. Believing that a friendship with rich and pretty Kelly Locke (Sarah Dugdale), leader of the school’s most prestigious clique, will get her all that she desires, Bridget tries to forge a friendship with her. When Kelly rejects Bridget’s attempts, it leaves her humiliated and feeling like a failure and ultimately fuels a jealous rage that will lead to murder. Death of a Cheerleader explores the events leading up to and after the shocking crime that took place in this upper-middle-class community.
Kellie Martin, who starred alongside Tori Spelling in the original, plays the FBI agent who cracks the case.
Death of a Cheerleader is produced by Just Singer Entertainment and Reunion Pacific Entertainment. Executive producers are Matthew O’Connor, Paddy Bickerton, Steve White and Sheri Singer. Paul Shapiro directs from a script written by Caitlin D. Fryers.
Victoria Gotti: My Father’s Daughter
Executive Produced and Narrated by Victoria Gotti and
Starring Chelsea Frei and Maurice Benard
Executive produced by Victoria Gotti herself, the movie takes us deep into the world of what it was really like to grow up as the daughter of mob boss John Gotti, revealing the glamour, glitz and unique hardships of her world. Sharing never-before-revealed stories about her life, Victoria (played by Chelsea Frei) tells of a sensitive child growing up with a beloved father (Maurice Benard) she worried about constantly; the tragedy of her younger brother’s death; and her turbulent romance, forbidden by her father, with the man who later became her husband. Victoria had a front-row seat to a life the world became fascinated with, all while trying to reconcile the loving father she adored with a man the outside world was determined to bring down.
Victoria Gotti: My Father’s Daughter is produced by Relevé Entertainment for Lifetime with Victoria Gotti, Jennifer Wachtell (The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks) and Holly Carter (Home is Where You Find It) executive producing. Catherine Cyran (The Prince & Me) directs from a script co-written by Victoria Gotti and David Schneiderman (Chasing Liberty). The film is based on Gotti’s book This Family of Mine: What It Was Like Growing Up Gotti. Victoria Gotti will appear on camera narrating her story.
Olivia Newton-John: Hopelessly Devoted to You
Starring Delta Goodrem
Olivia Newton-John: Hopelessly Devoted to You is the remarkable personal and professional journey of international superstar Olivia Newton-John, illustrated through her music. Covering her lasting power across more than five decades in one of the world’s toughest industries, the film delves into both Olivia’s public persona as well as the private woman behind-the-scenes, including her multiple battles with cancer and her intense fight to survive.
Australian singer, songwriter and actress Delta Goodrem (House Husbands, judge on The Voice, Australia) stars as Olivia Newton-John and re-records her classic hits for the film. Hugo Johnstone-Burt (San Andreas, The Wrong Girl) is Bruce Welch and Todd Lasance (The Flash, The Vampire Diaries) plays Lee Kramer. Richard Brancatisano (Chasing Life) is featured as Matt Lattanzi, Anthony Brandon Wong (The Matrix Revolutions) is Patrick McDermott, Morgan Griffin (San Andreas, The Sleepover Club) is young Olivia, and Georgia Flood (American Princess, Wentworth) is young Pat Carroll.
Olivia Newton-John: Hopelessly Devoted to You is produced by Fremantle with the assistance of Screen Australia and Film Victoria for Channel Seven. Lifetime has acquired the film for the U.S. premiere.
JANUARY ACQUIRED MOVIES
Best Friend’s Betrayal
Starring Mary Grill, Vanessa Walsh, Jaime M. Callica
Premieres January 13
Best friends Katie (Mary Grill) and Jess (Vanessa Walsh) are inseparable and have always had each other’s backs. When Jess begins a new serious relationship with famous crime writer, Nick (Jaime M. Callica), Katie is unsure of this new seemingly perfect man. Katie wants to support her friend’s newfound happiness but is fiercely protective of her. But Katie’s obsession with Jess soon proves deadly and it is up to the recently vilified Nick to expose this supposed ‘best friend’ before it is too late. Best Friend’s Betrayal is produced by Reel One Entertainment.
My Mother’s Split Personalities
Starring Lindsay Hartley, Kayla Wallace, Jefferson Brown
Premieres January 12
After her father dies of a heart attack, Julie Price (Kayla Wallace) has returned home after two years of living in estrangement from her mother Gail (Lindsay Hartley). But Gail is not herself these days, acting bizarrely and under the control of Warren (Jefferson Brown), a highly intelligent criminal, who has become Gail’s boyfriend and is plotting to get his hands on a vast amount of money left behind by her dead husband. As Julie investigates the cause of her mother’s strange behavior, she gets closer to the truth about Warren, and a deadly game of cat and mouse begins, in which the dark criminal operator will do anything to protect his payday. It’s up to Julie to save her mother from not only Warren but also from her own split personalities and get her the help she desperately needs. My Mother’s Split Personalities is produced by Reel One Entertainment