Toni Braxton to Star as Darlene Love in OWN Biopic

Toni Braxton will star as singer Darlene Love in OWN’s biopic of the famed pop vocalist.

In a series of announcements set for the cabler’s upfront presentation Thursday, OWN has also set Octavia Spencer to topline a miniseries revolving around a journalist investigating the notorious mass murder and cover-up in Tulsa, Okla., in 1921.

OWN has ordered 20 more episodes of Tyler Perry’s hit primetime soap “The Haves and the Have Nots,” bringing it to 56 episodes to air through 2015. A new Perry drama series, “Single Mom’s Club,” is set for a fall debut with a 20-episode order.

Justin Timberlake is lined up as the first guest on the new season of Oprah Winfrey’s interview series “Oprah’s Master Class,” to bow May 11.

Another programming tentpole planned for next year is the seven-part docu series “Belief,” examining the origins of faith “through the eyes of believers.”

In its fourth year on the air, OWN comes to the upfront with a real ratings growth story to tell, thanks to the anchors provided by “Haves and the Have Nots” and a handful of other shows gaining traction on the cabler that is a joint venture of Winfrey’s Harpo and Discovery Communications.

“Coming off our most watched quarter in network history, we are excited to get to work on these new scripted projects with Octavia and Toni,”said Erik Logan, president OWN. “By diversifying our programming, we are also growing our audience, and these new projects put us in a great position to take the network to the next level.

“Oprah, Erik, and I have big dreams for OWN and you are seeing them come true,” added Sheri Salata, president OWN. “With multiple scripted films and series in active development, Justin Timberlake headlining our brand new season of ‘Oprah’s Master Class’ and the addition of an epic worldwide event like ‘Belief,’ we are thrilled about what the future holds.”

“My Name is Love: The Darlene Love Story” is slated for a December premiere. Pic revolves around Love’s long career in the music biz, starting out as the key voice behind Phil Spector’s Wall of Sound hits from the 1960s. OWN’s first scripted telepic is shepherded by the docu filmmaker Morgan Neville, who was behind last year’s “Twenty Feet from Stardom” feature about Love and other well-known backup singers.

“Tulsa” hails from drama vet (and Oklahoma native) Nancy Miller (TNT’s “Saving Grace”).

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