EXCLUSIVE: Lifetime has set airdates for its Winter 2021 slate of five films, including its 400th original movie. The theme of the bundle is Ripped from the Headlines, a catch-all for the true crime films that will air every Saturday night beginning Feb. 13 through March 13.
Kicking off the quintet of movies will be Death Saved My Life on February 13, starring Meagan Good. That will be followed by Lifetime’s 400th original movie premiere, The Long Island Serial Killer: A Mother’s Hunt for Justice starring Kim Delaney on February 20.
Judd Nelson, Joely Fisher and Stefanie Scott star in Girl in the Basement the week following on February 27. Diane Neal leads Circle of Deception on March 6, and Stephanie March leads A House On Fire on March 13. Both films were inspired by works from New York Time’s best-selling crime writer Ann Rule.
As part of Lifetime’s Broader Focus initiative supporting the hiring of women in key production roles, actresses Elisabeth Röhm and Ashley Williams step behind the camera to make their directorial debuts with the movies Girl in the Basement and Circle of Deception. A House on Fire is directed by Shamim Sarif, and Deborah Norville joins The Long Island Serial Killer: A Mother’s Hunt for Justice as an executive producer.
“As the leading producer of original movies, it’s truly exciting to hit 400 this February,” said Tanya Lopez, EVP, Scripted Content, Lifetime and LMN. “This milestone just speaks to the incredible power and longevity of Lifetime Original Movies in the television landscape, and I am thrilled to unveil even more movies in 2021.”
Following each of the movie debuts, Beyond The Headlines documentary shorts will follow to provide more real-life accounts that inspired each movie. In addition, the network’s 2020 winter Ripped from the Headlines slate, which included Stolen By My Mother: The Kamiyah Mobley Story, Chris Watts: Confessions of a Killer, Poisoned Love: The Stacey Castor Story, Neighbor in the Window, and You Can’t Take My Daughter reached more than 25 million total viewers on Lifetime & LMN1.
Below are the full descriptions and premiere dates for movies for the slate:
Saturday, February 13th
Death Saved My Life – 8pm ET/PT
Beyond the Headlines: Faking Death – 10pm ET/PT
On the surface it seems Jade (Meagan Good) has it all, a successful marketing career, a husband admired and respected in the community, and a young daughter they both dote on. But behind closed doors, her life is far from idyllic. Her husband Ed (Chiké Okonkwo) is a controlling man who is physically and psychologically abusive. When Jade decides to leave Ed, he tells her “If I can’t have you, nobody will,” a threat which becomes very real when she discovers he has hired someone to kill her. Knowing no one will believe her, Jade realizes the only way to escape Ed is to make him believe the hitman completed the job and that she is dead. La’Myia Good plays Jade’s sister Leigh. Death Saved My Life is produced by Jarrett Creative. Executive producers are Julie Insogna Jarrett, Seth Jarrett and Meagan Good. Seth Jarrett directs from a script written by Barbara Kymlicka.
In Beyond the Headlines: Faking Death, writer Elizabeth Greenwood discusses her research on the phenomenon of “pseudocide,” or faking one’s own death. Based on the experience of Jane in Death Saved My Life, Greenwood discusses the main reason why women fake their deaths, and why disappearing woman in books and movies is so popular. She also presents real life cases of faked deaths that have captured the public eye, and why people resort to such lengths to disappear.
Saturday, February 20th
The Long Island Serial Killer: A Mother’s Hunt for Justice – 8pm ET/PT
The Long Island Serial Killer: Special Report Documentary – 10pm ET/PT
The Long Island Serial Killer: A Mother’s Hunt for Justice tells the story of Mari Gilbert’s search for the truth behind what happened to her daughter Shannan, a sometime escort who disappeared after a ‘date’ on Long Island. After Shannan (Katharine Isabelle) fails to come home, her mother Mari (Kim Delaney) knows something is terribly wrong. Pleading to police to take her concerns seriously, she keeps pushing the police for answers. Mari’s insistence that her daughter not be overlooked eventually leads to a horror hidden on Long Island for more than a decade – 19 bodies of young women discovered buried in shallow graves along Ocean Parkway in the area of Jones Beach State Park. Though the search for the killer is still ongoing, Mari’s passionate dedication to giving her daughter and other forgotten women a voice, and the attention they deserve, has kept the case alive with hopes of a breakthrough soon. The movie not only follows a mother’s tireless search for the truth, but it also digs deep into the murders, including Shannan’s, that have gone unsolved for so long. Joining Kim Delaney is Eugene Clark as private investigator “Herc” Zinneman.
The Long Island Serial Killer: A Mother’s Hunt for Justice is produced by Lighthouse Pictures, with Sony Pictures Television distributing. Executive producers include Emmy® Award winner Deborah Norville and Peabody Award winner Elizabeth Stephen. The script is written by John Pielmeier.
An encore airing of the A+E documentary,The Long Island Serial Killer: Special Report,features new content and documents the real-life story with expert and law enforcement interviews offering personal accounts of the efforts to solve the case and Mari Gilbert’s search to uncover the truth. Deborah Norville, one of the executive producers of The Long Island Serial Killer: A Mother’s Hunt for Justice original movie, will share her insights on the case from reporting on the story for Inside Edition.
Saturday, February 27th
Girl in the Basement – 8pm ET/PT
Beyond The Headlines: Surviving Child Abduction and Imprisonment– 10pm ET/PT
Inspired by actual events, Girl in the Basement is the horrific story of Sara (Stefanie Scott), a vibrant
teen girl who was looking forward to her 18th birthday so she could move away from her controlling father Don (Judd Nelson). But before she could ever blow out the candles, her world became extremely dark after Don imprisons her in the basement of their home. While Don tries to convince wife Irene (Joely Fisher) that Sara ran away, he would secretly visit her in the basement to torture and rape her while Irene and her sister Amy (Emily Topper) continued living upstairs. As the years pass, Sara gives birth to several children, alone in the basement. Don eventually brings up their youngest son, leaving him on the doorstep for Irene to find with a note from Sara saying that was her son and she couldn’t care for him, leaving Irene to finally accept Don’s claims about Sara. After decades of captivity, Sara finally escapes, and her family learns the devastating truth about what had been going on for over 20 years right beneath their feet.
Girl in the Basement is produced by Big Dreams Entertainment and Swirl Films for Lifetime. Leslie Greif, Manu Boyer and Barbara Marshall, who also wrote the script, executive produce the movie while Elisabeth Röhm directs. Jessica Bahowick co-produces. Producers are Alex Kerr for Big Dreams Entertainment, Eric Tomosunas and Ron Robinson for Swirl Films.
In Beyond the Headlines: Surviving Child Abduction and Imprisonment, two real abduction survivors share their stories following the premiere of the Girl in the Basement. Lori Poland, kidnapped at 3 and left for dead in an outhouse in 1983, and Katie Beers, abducted and imprisoned for 17 days by a family friend in 1992, recount their abduction experiences and share their insight on overcoming and transcending past their childhood traumas.
Saturday, March 6th
Circle of Deception – 8pm ET/PT
Beyond The Headlines: Beauty Queens Gone Bad -10pm ET/PT
A small island community is turned upside down when one of the town’s citizen’s Russel Douglas (Paul McGillion) is found dead the day after Christmas. Brenna Douglas (Jill Morrison) was Russel’s estranged and soon-to-be ex-wife, who often complained to her former beauty queen best friend Peggy Sue Thomas (Diane Neal) that Russel was physically and emotionally abusive. Through an investigation that twists and winds its way through neighbors, a wife, and best friends, Russel’s murderer is finally revealed. The film also stars Tahmoh Penikett and Tamara Tunie and is produced by Lighthouse Pictures. Conor Allyn, Benjamin Anderson, Jamie Goehring, Shawn Williamson, Barbara Lieberman and Neal Dodson serve as executive producers. Circle of Deception will mark Ashley Williams’ television movie directorial debut from a script written by Christina Ray.
Following the premiere of Circle of Deception, Lifetime will be premiering a Beyond The Headlines documentary that delves deeper into more shocking stories of criminal deception. Circle of Deception is inspired by Ann Rule’s true crime novel, Practice to Deceive, that focuses on a shattering case of a murder on Christmas day.
A companion Beyond The Headlines documentary will follow the premiere of A House on Fire that takes a deeper look into the issues of mental health and awareness that arise out of the film. A House on Fire is inspired by New York Times’s bestseller, Ann Rule’s true crime novel, Bitter Harvest, which uncovers the horrific truths of a house fire and the events that led to it.