Welcome to our special LIFETIME New Season edition.
With LIFETIME Television devoted to inspiring and educating its audience on women's issues -- a cause that DW creator Linda Bloodworth-Thomason obviously believed strongly in, we thought it was important to support and promote LIFETIME's projects -- particularly the ones involving the DW cast!
Of course LIFETIME airs Designing Women, but it also continues to present original programming that draws attention to subjects important to today's women. This issue, we preview the new season of Annie Potts' critically acclaimed Any Day Now and a new original movie with Delta Burke that tackles the hidden issue of teen violence against a parent.
A Time to Heal
The Original Drama Series 'Any Day Now' Starring Annie Potts and Lorraine Toussaint Continues to Tackle Provocative Issues
LIFETIME Television's award-winning original drama series, Any Day Now, returns for its fourth season on Sunday, July 15 at 10pm (ET/PT). The groundbreaking drama continues to earn critical acclaim for its provocative and relevant exploration of an interracial friendship as it experiences many triumphs and challenges from the 1960's Civil Rights era to the present day.
As previously reported in Issue #8, Any Day Now chronicles the story of Mary Elizabeth "M.E." Sims (Annie Potts) and Rene Jackson (Lorraine Toussaint), two women who pursue very different life paths and eventually resume the deep friendship they shared growing up together in Birmingham, Alabama. The complexities of the relationship between M.E., a housewife, mother and aspiring writer who is Caucasian, and Rene, a single, successful attorney who is African-American, are conveyed by interweaving their present-day stories with storylines from their childhood relationship during the 1960's turbulent Civil Rights struggles.
This season, the present day is punctuated with the women's "past" experiences during the transition from 1967 to 1968, when the hippie movement rebelled against the status quo, and the nation erupted after the assassinations of Martin Luther King, Jr. and Robert F. Kennedy.
"Those two great men were the last hope for many Americans," remarked executive producer Gary Randall. "Their martyrdom is what enabled us to continue the work that was done in the late 1960's and early 1970's."
Series creator and executive producer Nancy Miller, who will write the episode centering on the assassination of Robert F. Kennedy, looks forward to the progression of these powerful "past" scenes. "The year 1968 was such a volatile time. We're going to be examining a lot of what happened at that time when our country was really rebelling," Miller said. "Our little girls are in high school now and are going to be doing some rebelling of their own."
With the "past" scenes jumping ahead to 1967 and 1968, Maya Goodwin and Olivia Hack join the cast as the teenage versions of Rene and M.E.. Goodwin, who made her film debut in Brokedown Palace, is known to television audiences for her work on Sister, Sister, N.Y.P.D. Blue and Mad TV. Hack is best known for her role as Cindy Brady in the two Brady Bunch feature films. The two girls weave the back-story into the present for the series, illustrating a life-long friendship as it continues to blossom while growing up in the South during the racially charged 1960's.
Co-executive Producer Valerie Woods has the awesome task of recapturing the tone of the nation in April 1968, when Dr. King was shot. "King's death was a turning point in the Civil Rights Movement that impacted the entire nation," Woods remarked. "It was shocking that a man who preached nonviolence, who only wanted a peaceful end to the struggle, was gunned down so viciously. For many, it was a loss of idealism. For others, it galvanized them to fight even harder. The episode will cover all these complex issues."
"It was really a time of questioning," added Miller. As the characters live through and recall this volatile period, changing ideologies will begin to affect Rene's and M.E.'s friendship. "It's the time when their friendship starts to wear thin. We know from the pilot that at the end of high school, their friendship broke apart," explained Woods. "This year we begin to see how that happened."
The impact of King and Kennedy, who emerged as two or our greatest human rights activists, will also influence Any Day Now's present day storylines. "As Rene's law practice expands, she will focus on cases involving human rights issues," Miller said. Randall added, "M.E. will write a book on the work of pioneering women in America, which could become Pulitzer Prize material."
Throughout the fourth season, the Any Day Now present-day storylines will continue in their timely exploration of women's lives. The third season ended with a two-part season finale in which Rene successfully put the "N"-word on trial and M.E. and her husband Colliar (Chris Mulkey) became grandparents. As the fourth season begins, we find M.E. trying to rebuild her marriage to Colliar while simultaneously trying to rebuild her family after the birth of her biracial grandchild. This season will also explore the struggles Kelly and Ajoni face as they take on the challenge of becoming teenage parents.
Rene will grapple with issues of being the boss to several new and challenging associates: Joe Lazano, a reformed ambulance chaser; Staci Trenton, a staunch conservative; and Carey Johnson, the quintessential Southerner. She will also begin a personal relationship that may lead her back to the altar. M.E.'s writing career will begin to take off, while a devastating incident will force her and Colliar to start their lives over.
LIFETIME's Senior VP, Programming, Kelly Goode Abugov, feels that the fourth season of Any Day Now is a testament to the network's tradition of bringing compelling television to women. "The truth in the life that these women are leading is a very realistic one with which our audience can identify," Good Abugov commented. "I think the show started out in a great place, and it has really grown and matured, tackling subject matter you just can't find any place else on television."
Any Day Now is produced by Paid Our Dues Productions and Wilshire-Hauser Productions in association with Spelling Entertainment for LIFETIME Television.
LIFETIME Television Publicity
Delta Burke Deals with Abuse from an Unlikely Source in 'Dangerous Child'
Emmy Award-nominee Delta Burke and Ryan Merriman star in the LIFETIME Original Movie Dangerous Child, an insightful portrayal of a mother's desperate fight to protect and save her teenage son as his abusive behavior against her escalates and eventually spirals out of control.
"LIFETIME became aware of the problem of teen violence against a parent and came to me with the project because they believe it deserves attention," Executive Producer Freyda Rothstein explained. "Many times the injured party is a single parent and usually is a woman. It's a little-recognized or understood problem," Rothstein continued. "As parents, most of us feel that a teenager's difficult behavior is something we can solve, or maybe that it's developmental and will pass. But it's not. Most often, it gets away from you before you realize it. It's time to make people aware that this kind of teen violence can and does happen."
"I was drawn to this story because women tend to think everything that happens is somehow their fault," Delta Burke said. "For example, battered women think they must deserve the treatment they get. My character, Sally, is enormously brave, because even when she realizes she is afraid of her son -- and afraid for him -- she also sees that what she was taught to believe about herself is also doing her harm. If she wants to find the strength to persevere and do the right thing, paradoxically it means taking care of herself as well."
The divorced, working mother of a 16 year-old son, Jack (Ryan Merriman), and little nine-year-old Leo (Marc Donato), Sally Cambridge (Burke) maintains an uneasy truce with her ex-husband, Brad (Vyto Ruginis), who is prone to temperamental outbursts and tries too hard to show who's the boss around the boys. But now, the normally loving and caring Jack has grown defiant. At first, stunned by his surliness and his belittling way of talking to her, Sally is angry and resolves to be stronger with him. In spite of her attempts to talk to Jack, his hostility grows, and his abusive language escalates to aggressive, physical behavior. Ashamed and frightened, Sally lies to protect Jack, but the police become involved and an irate Brad, refusing to believe Sally, threatens to take away custody of both boys. The presence of Sally’s new boyfriend, Frank Cantor (Barclay Hope), further upsets Jack. In a sudden, deadly moment, he lashes out at his mother -- and Sally finds herself under arrest, facing a prison sentence.
"It's painful for Sally because she wants to protect her child at any cost, and yet she feels helpless," Burke commented. "There's some instinct in her that knows things aren't right, but she doesn’t know why. And the trouble with Jack starts off slowly -- he talks back or he's rude, but then he's sorry and he's the same sweet boy again. It's amazing how quickly you become used to that. You tell yourself it's normal, or it must be something to do with you."
"This is a timely, extremely relevant movie because there is no one single cause of teen abuse against a parent and no one single solution," director Graeme Campbell commented. "It shows how verbal and physical violence is likely to happen, and although Sally discovers there are few resources to help her, the movie offers a message about finding hope." "Dangerous Child presents something new," Rothstein added. "No behavior is full-blown; it emerges gradually. When you look at real tragedies, like Columbine, it's clear there have to be warning signs in a child with that kind of anger. This movie helps make people realize what the behavior means; that it's something we all need to know about and it's okay to seek help. It's more important, for anyone faced with this in their own life, to realize they are not alone."
Dangerous Child, a LIFETIME Original Movie, premieres Monday, July 16 at 9pm (ET/PT) on LIFETIME Television.
LIFETIME Television Publicity
"Dwayne's record as the #1 Import Car Salesman in All of Southeast Missouri gets him a guest spot on the David Letterman show. David looks at him as any other hick guest, but his appearance catches the eye of an innovative Hollywood talent scout who sees something appealing in Dwayne and gets him cast as the lead in a Moonlighting-style detective show. For his co-star and love interest, producers decided to seek the talents of a former beauty queen who just-so-happens to have spent a brief stint as a Congresswoman. So, much to her dismay, because of a contractual obligation and the threat of a law suit, Suzanne Sugarbaker is forced to spend 22 episodes a year flirting and kissing a classless Missouri hillbilly when she gains national recognition as one half of the super-couple on the beloved new show Pull My Finger." (Submitted by Amoran)
Don't forget to Email "Belled" with reader feedback and to tell us where you think the "Designing Women" characters would be today for future issues!
From 'Any Day Now'
(65) Which of M.E.'s relatives was an active member of the Ku Klux Klan?
(66) What did Colliar and M.E. name their first born child?
(67) What role did guest Delta Burke play on the series?
(68) What caused the biggest rift between Rene's brother and the family?
* Answers will appear in the next issue.
Trivia Answers from Issue #16
From 'Tornado Watch'
(61) For which of his sons is Daddy Jones in town to buy a birthday present?
(62) What pet name does Daddy Jones call Bernice?
(63) What is Mrs. Peace's favorite color?
(64) What is Mary Jo's birthday present to Reese?
A yachting cap