Queen Latifah project expands from film to series

VH1 has decided to go steady with “Single Ladies,” taking the original film exec produced by Queen Latifah and expanding it into a weekly scripted dramedy series, the network’s first.

Starring Stacey Dash, LisaRaye McCoy and Charity Shea as the title characters, the “Single Ladies” pic will now become the premiere of the series, launching in July 2011. Eight ensuing episodes have been ordered.

“It’s a great swing for us to take, and one we’re really excited about taking,” VH1 exec veep of original programming and production Jeff Olde said. “We are developing other scripted projects that we feel are traveling a lane that would be complementary to this. … (but) this is really our focus, and I think it’s going to be a really easy shift for our audience.”

Set in Atlanta, the “Single Ladies” pic completed filming this summer, with the series now scheduled to begin shooting before the end of the year. DB Woodside is part of the principal cast, with Latifah now scheduled to make a guest appearance in the series. Lauren London, Eve, Common, Chili, and Kim Porter also appear in the film.

Speculation that the film could serve as a backdoor pilot began nearly a year ago (Daily Variety, Feb. 5). Olde said that VH1 was prepared to hold off on its series order until after the film premiered next summer, but reaction to the film and its characters was so positive in test screenings that the network felt confident moving forward.

“As we started showing it around, (viewers) would actually be mad at us if we just showed the movie,” Olde said. “That was the thing we kept hearing: ‘What happened next?’ ”

Shakim Compere and Shelby Stone are exec producing with Latifah for Flavor Unit Entertainment, alongside fellow exec producers Maggie Malina, Stacy Littlejohn and Tamra Davis. Davis directed Littlejohn’s script.

“My partner Shakim and I are excited to collaborate with VH1, as they have a similar vision on how to bring this show to life,” Latifah said.

“I think ‘Single Ladies’ will really fill a hole in what is needed on television today.”

Filed Under:

Follow @Variety on Twitter for breaking news, reviews and more