Fresh off the news that it delivered its most watched quarter in its history, OWN: The Oprah Winfrey Network started the day with more big news.
Singer and actress Toni Braxton will star as legendary back-up singer Darlene Love in OWN’s first scripted TV film, “My Name is Love: The Darlene Love Story,” according to an OWN press release. In February, the three-year old network announced it had acquired the rights to turn Love’s memoir “My Name is Love” into a film. Love, Oprah Winfrey and Academy Award-winning filmmaker Morgan Neville, who directed Love in the Oscar-winning documentary “20 Feet From Stardom,” will serve as executive producers. The project will premiere this December. Braxton’s own memoir, “Unbreak My Heart,” will be released on May 20.
The six-time Grammy Award-winning Braxton isn’t the only one coming to OWN.
Oscar winner Octavia Spencer will star in a two-night event mini-series “Tulsa” (working title) currently in development. “Tulsa” is based on “the story of the largest race riot in U.S. history, where over 300 people were believed to have been murdered in Tulsa, Oklahoma–a story that was largely covered up for decades,” the press release continued. Spencer will play Mattie Clay, a journalist from Tulsa, who moved to Chicago with the hopes of getting off the society pages and away from racism.
“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.”
In addition, the network announced that Justin Timberlake will kick off a star-studded new season of “Oprah’s Master Class” on May 11. “Good Morning America” co-host Robin Roberts, multi-award-winning vocalists Lionel Richie and Vanessa L. Williams along with “The View’s” Whoopi Goldberg and Barbara Walters are among those who’ll also be featured in the upcoming season.
The network also announced a “groundbreaking” seven-part television event “Belief” presented by Winfrey, which explores humankind’s search for meaning and connection. It will premiere next year. Also, Tyler Perry’s popular drama series “The Haves and the Have Nots” and previously announced new series ‘Single Moms Club’ (working title) each have received 20-episode orders. New episodes of “The Haves and the Have Nots” will begin on May 27 at 9 p.m. EST. “Single Moms Club” will premiere this fall.
“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.”
Check this out: “20 Feet from Stardom” trailer