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Lifetime launches ‘Fempire’ and announces programming slate

Shiri Appleby, left, and Constance Zimmer in the Lifetime series "UnREAL." The network announced its 2016-17 programming slate Wednesday.

Shiri Appleby, left, and Constance Zimmer in the Lifetime series “UnREAL.” The network announced its 2016-17 programming slate Wednesday.

(James Dittiger / Lifetime)

Lifetime on Wednesday announced its intent to target fourth-wave feminists with a new multiplatform initiative called the “Fempire,” in addition to releasing its development slate for the 2016-17 television season.

With a mission statement that includes “creating content for women, by women, about women,” the Fempire aims to unify Lifetime’s linear, digital, social and community partnerships in an attempt to become the premiere destination for women’s entertainment.

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Liz Gateley, executive vice president and head of programming for the network, announced Lifetime’s intention to commit to short-form digital content, aiming to “engage and entertain our viewers 24/7.”

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Gateley noted, “It still sucks to be a woman in America because women feel dismissed in both big and small ways throughout their day every day. We know our viewers come to Lifetime because we empower them.”

“No studio or network is giving women creators a bigger platform to freely express themselves and see their stories get made,” she said.

Central to Lifetime’s plan to appeal to women is the recruitment of some of the biggest names in sports and music. Former UFC champion Ronda Rousey has signed a three-picture development deal with the network, tennis legend Serena Williams is executive producing “Sister Dance,” inspired by an annual dance-off she hosts with sister Venus, and pop icon Janet Jackson is executive producing “Queenie,” the true story of a woman gangster during Prohibition.

Lifetime is also working with Selena Gomez on an autobiographical scripted drama inspired by the pop star’s life.

The network has several scripted series in development, including “Breeders,” a darkly comedic look at parenting; “Deadline” a satirical drama that looks at the world of celebrity journalism; “None of the Above,” an adaptation of the novel of the same name about a homecoming queen who comes to terms with being intersex; an untitled Holly Brix (“The Vampire Diaries”) project, a soapy drama about blackmail; and an anthology drama titled “A Midsummer’s Nightmare,” which looks to take one work of Shakespeare each season and develop it into a modern-day horror-mystery.

Also in development on Lifetime’s film slate are “The Michel’le Story,” based on the life of R&B singer Michel’le, and “Paris Can Wait,” starring Diane Lane and Alec Baldwin, which will premiere on the network after its theatrical release.

The network also announced two unscripted series debuting this year. “Fashion Inc.” features aspiring fashion and beauty up-and-comers seeking to secure funds from investors for their endeavors, while “Gold Medal Families” looks to share the lives of six Olympic hopefuls and their families.

The British series “Catastrophe” from Sharon Hogan and Rob Delaney will make its U.S. television debut on Lifetime in early 2017. The series, which features an unlikely couple and an unexpected pregnancy, is currently only available to stream through Amazon.

Lifetime also ordered a two-hour pilot of “Sea Change,” a supernatural drama adapted from the YA novel of the same name, about a teenage girl who moves to a small town and learns that the island she now lives on has a dangerous legend at work.

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