What’s Next?: Lifetime’s upcoming slate looks ‘Devious’

Showman of the Year 2012: A+E Networks - Lifetime

Lifetime is aggressively pursuing pilots and development deals that look to expand its scripted drama slate into everything from mystery to period pieces to the supernatural.

“There’s an amazing amount of energy and momentum right now,” says exec VP of programming Rob Sharenow.

Picking up Marc Cherry’s “Devious Maids” — after ABC passed on the pilot — is an example of the cabler’s push. Starring Ana Ortiz, Roselyn Sanchez, Susan Lucci and Grant Show, the show will follow five ambitious Beverly Hills maids.

“The whole construct is fresh,” Sharenow says. “He’s betting all his chips on this one, as are we. It’s his baby and it’s incredibly unique.”

On the crime-solving front, Lifetime is developing a series revolving around the Clarice Starling character from “Silence of the Lambs.” Also on tap is two-hour movie-backdoor pilot “Sworn to Silence,” which features Neve Campbell as a detective returning to the Amish country she left behind as a child. Campbell will co-executive produce, as well

Also arriving at the net is Renee Zellweger, who is producing a drama pilot “Cinnamon Girl,” about four girls growing up amidst the Los Angeles music scene of the late 1960s.

Explains Sharenow: “There’s a lot written and produced about the ’60s, but it’s always very nostalgic. This is going to be very visceral, present tense. Women were finding their voices literally and figuratively, and the musical backdrop of this show was a vehicle for that.”

Other ordered drama pilots include “The Secret Lives of Wives,” a thought-provoking portrait of four marriages, and “Witches of East End,” based on Melissa de la Cruz’s bestselling novel about two Long Island sisters who learn they’re the latest in a lineage of witches.

On the reality side, Lifetime is putting “Dance Moms” star Abby Lee Miller as head judge of “Abby’s Ultimate Dance Competition,” and will take a multigenerational look at the late Whitney Houston’s clan with “Houston Family Chronicles,” which Sharenow says will be a “sensitive insight into a fascinating family.”

The network has its tongue partly in its cheek with the upcoming “My Life Is a Lifetime Movie,” in which real women tell stories that could have or already inspired Lifetime movies.

He adds, “We’re having fun with our brand, but in a way.”