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Lifetime’s New Original Movies Include Viola Davis, James Franco, Michael Jackson

Lifetime has unveiled its latest slate of original movies, and they include not only the return of James Franco but the debut of Viola Davis.

“High School lover,” executive produced by James Franco, stars Franco as the father of a high school student (Paulina Singer) who falls in love with a much older man (François Arnaud). Papa Franco must intervene before the crush turns into a dangerous obsession. Jerell Rosales directs from a script written by Amber Coney (“Mother May I Sleep With Danger?”) and Jessica Dube. “High School Lover” will premiere Feb. 4.

“Britney Ever After,” starring Natasha Bassett as Britney Spears, will cover the pop star’s rise and fall and rise again. It is produced by Asylum Entertainment for Lifetime. Steve Michaels, Jonathan Koch and Joan Harrison are executive producers. Leslie Libman (“Manson’s Lost Girls”) directs from a script from Anne-Marie Hess. “Britney Ever After” will debut Feb. 18.

“Custody,” executive produced by Viola Davis and starring Davis, Hayden Panettiere, Catalina Sandino Moreno, Ellen Burstyn, and Tony Shaloub, premieres Mar. 4. The story revolves around three women who are brought together when a hard-working single mother (Moreno) has her children taken away from her. Panettiere plays the recent law school grad charged with representing the mother, while Davis plays the judge on the case.

“Custody” is written and directed by Tony Award and Pulitzer Prize winner James Lapine (Into the Woods). Lauren Versel, Katie Mustard, Lapine and Roy Furman serve as producers. Davis, Julius Tennon, Jeff Elliott, Chad Moore, Gregory P. Shockro, Daryl Roth and Sandy Robertson also executive produce.

Biopic Michael Jackson: Searching for Neverland” will begin shooting in February, starring Michael Jackson tribute artist Navi. Based on the book “Remember the Time: Protecting Michael Jackson in His Final Days,” the film also stars Chad L. Coleman as Jackson’s bodyguard. The film is produced by Silver Screen. Dianne Houston is directing from a script written by Elizabeth Hunter (“Beauty Shop”).

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