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Lifetime sets skeins, flips ‘Card’ away

Net lines up series

While Lifetime readies to name president-CEO Carole Black’s successor, exec VP-general manager Rick Haskins remains busy, locking up series projects from “The Practice” exec producer John Tinker, novelist Adriana Trigiani and scribe Sally Robinson (HBO’s “Iron Jawed Angels.”)

Meanwhile, network execs have decided not to renew sophomore drama “Wild Card” for a third season. Show, from Fireworks Entertainment, starred Joely Fisher as an insurance investigator. Ratings for the second season dwindled, a fact made obvious by its strong lead-in “Missing,” which received a boost when star Vivica A. Fox was added to the cast.

That leaves Lifetime with just two scripted originals — “Missing” and “Strong Medicine,” which the network is trying to spin off. Cabler canceled long-running legal drama “The Division” last summer. Four remaining unaired episodes of “Wild Card” will air at a later date.

Sked holes will be filled sooner rather than later, however, since Haskins has filled the pipeline with several series projects he says take the women’s cabler into a fresher, more contemporary direction.

In addition to the multitude of reality series going on the air, an example of that is Efrem Seeger’s “The Hunters” (Daily Variety, Jan. 19), a drama pilot the cabler has ordered revolving around a dysfunctional family of spies.

New direction

“What we’ve been striving to do is to get some unique material that isn’t on the air anywhere else,” Haskins said. ” ‘Strong Medicine’ is an amazing show, and it fit its purpose when it came on six years ago. But women now are looking for something different, and we want to fill that space. Lifetime may not always be their first choice, but we want to make sure we’re in the parameter of what they’re watching.”

From Robinson, Lifetime has greenlit production on the comedy pilot “The Marriage Bed,” a half-hour about the love lives of three sisters — one single, one divorced and one married. Story revolves primarily around the seemingly happy married sib whose union is beginning to unravel. Haskins said cabler is finalizing negotiations with a major studio to produce the project.

In addition, cabler is working on Tinker’s “The Look,” a one-hour drama exploring the behind-the-scenes, high-stakes world of fashion. Bunim-Murray (“The Real World”) is onboard to produce, along with Wally Nicita (“Irreconcilable Differences”) and Peter Barsocchini (“Drop Zone”).

Then there’s an untitled hour about a group of urban mothers — formerly freewheeling single women — who are realizing settling down isn’t what they expected. Untitled series is from Trigiani, author of “The Queen of the Big Time,” and producer Larry Sanitsky (“The Pennsylvania Miner’s Story”).

Life choices

“Our future shows aren’t necessarily about empowerment anymore,” Haskins said. “It’s about the choices that women get to make in their lives. And we’re reaching in several genres — even fantasy — to show that.”

Haskins plans to shoot six pilots by year’s end. Net has already ordered one from Debi Gutierrez, inspired by her life as a busy mom.

Cabler also is developing laffers with Gale Anne Hurd (“Terminator 3”), about the most self-absorbed woman on Earth; Carole Leifer (“Seinfeld”), based on her life as a single TV writer in Los Angeles (Daily Variety, Oct. 13); and Jon Avnet, set in the world of competitive women and based on the bestselling book “Tripping the Prom Queen” (Daily Variety, Dec. 7).

On the drama front, Lifetime is developing the Lions Gate TV-produced limited series “Female Astronauts,” which also comes from Hurd and the team behind last season’s Lifetime pilot “The Coven,” and “The Gumm Sisters,” from Kathy Najimy.

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