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Lifetime pulls plug on hyped pilots

'Division' expected to return for fifth season

NEW YORK — Lifetime has scrapped all series plans for its two most highly touted 60-minute pilots: Sony Pictures TV’s “Class Actions” and Lions Gate TV’s “The Coven.”

Demise of the two series proposals has bolstered the chances that Lifetime will give a fifth-season go-ahead to “The Division,” the network’s Sunday night police series from Viacom Prods. that is wrapping up production on its fourth season.

Lifetime was taking a hard look at “Division” because its ratings have fallen off in the first quarter by 30% among 18-49 for nine original episodes, and by 24% in total viewers. But “Division” still averages a 2 rating, which is well above Lifetime’s primetime average and one key gauge of success for a series.

Upping the chances that “Division” will get a fifth season is that creator-exec producer Deborah Joy LeVine will be free to concentrate on the show; she had shifted over to writer and co-exec producer of “Class Actions,” which would’ve claimed her attention if it had gone to series.

The “Class Actions” pilot, directed in Vancouver by co-exec producer Charles Haid, featured Diane Venora as a high-powered Gotham lawyer who moves to a small town to teach at the local university. Tangi Miller played a law student.

“The Coven” pilot, shot in Toronto by exec producers Charlie Craig and Gale Anne Hurd, dealt with a group of modern-day witches. Lions Gate and Hurd’s Valhalla TV were touting it as “The Witches of Eastwick” meets “The Stepford Wives.”

Lifetime commissions more scripted original series for adults than any other cable network.

In addition to “The Division,” Lifetime earlier greenlit a fifth season of Sony Pictures TV’s “Strong Medicine,” which also experienced a falloff in total viewers and adult women.

Lifetime also has given a go-ahead to second seasons of “1 800 Missing” and “Wild Card,” its two Saturday primetime hourlong melodramas, which premiered last summer. Each will get an 18-episode run.

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