According to Variety.com, Toni Braxton will star as singer Darlene Love in OWN’s biopic of the famed pop vocalist. My Name is Love: The Darlene Love Story is slated for a December premiere, and the telefilm revolves around Love’s long career in the music industry, starting out as the key voice behind Phil Spector’s Wall of Sound hits from the 1960s. OWN’s first scripted movie was brought to the network by Morgan Neville, the documentarian who was behind last year’s Academy Award-winning feature, Twenty Feet from Stardom, about Love and other well-known backup singers.
OWN has also announced it’s set Octavia Spencer to star in a miniseries revolving around a journalist investigating the notorious mass murder and cover-up in Tulsa, Oklahoma in 1921. Tulsa comes from drama veteran (and Oklahoma native) Nancy Miller (TNT’s Saving Grace).
Additionally, 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 premiere May 11. Another programming tentpole planned for next year is the seven-part documentary 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.”
article by Lori Lakin Hutcherson