Avnet dates ‘Prom Queen’ with Lifetime

Story based on upcoming nonfiction book

A correction was made to this article on Dec. 9, 2004.

“Boomtown” exec producer Jon Avnet has signed on to direct and co-exec produce “Tripping the Prom Queen,” a half-hour comedy set up at Lifetime. Cabler also has ordered the reality pilot “Sergeant in the House” from Red 23 Entertainment.

In the vein of “Mean Girls,” “Tripping” will take a comedic look at how women act out their aggression as adults. Story is based on the upcoming nonfiction book “Tripping the Prom Queen: How Far Women Will Go to Get What They Want,” by Susan Shapiro Barash, who will serve as a consultant on the project. “Tripping” will be published by St. Martin’s Press in September.

Ellyn Williams (ABC’s “Once Upon a Mattress”) is onboard to produce the project, currently out to writers, with a pilot scheduled to go into production early next year.

Lifetime exec VP-general manager Rick Haskins said “Tripping” will focus on how women navigate and compete in the workplace and in suburbia.

“The core of the series will cover women’s ambitions in all areas of life and look at how they endeavor to achieve them,” he said. “It’ll be much lighter than it is dramatic.”

Avnet said the prospect of doing an ensemble project about female rivalry for a women’s cabler intrigued him.

“I’ve been married forever, so I think that gives me some authority, I hope” he said. “I’m taking a chance here with Lifetime. ‘Boomtown’ was a very unique show. I wanted to do something different for me and equally unique.”

Avnet declined to discuss plot details but said “the comedy comes in some very recognizable and relatable situations for women.”

Meanwhile, Lifetime has ordered the one-hour pilot “Sergeant,” which sends mom and dad away for a while, and a drill sergeant comes in to get the kids and the housework in line. Project comes from Mark Ganshirt and Sam Korkis (VH1’s “Kept”).

“We’re looking for mothers who need help,” Haskins said. “And what mom hasn’t thrown her hands up in despair and told her kids, ‘If you don’t behave, I’m enrolling you in military school’?”

Exec said Lifetime will be unrolling at least one reality show a quarter — 2005 will kick off with new cycles of “How Clean Is Your House?,” “Merge” and “Head to Toe.”

Pilot for “Sergeant,” which will be shot in the first quarter, will air as a special sometime next year.

Avnet directed “Fried Green Tomatoes” and produced the recent feature “Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow.” He also directed, co-wrote and produced NBC’s “Uprising.”

Barash is a professor of gender studies and has penned nine books on the subject including “The New Wife: The Evolving Role of the American Wife.”

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