One of America’s most popular cable channels comes to Canada with a fresh slate of original programming

Launched in 1982, the Lifetime cable channel began by offering a mere four hours per day of health-themed women’s programming. Over the years, the channel was subsequently rebanded as “TV for Women,” and became notorious for its over-the-top melodramatic “women-in-peril” TV movies such as Tori Spelling’s 1996 howler Mother, May I Sleep With Danger and She Woke Up Pregnant, in which a woman doesn’t realize she’s been impregnated by her creepy dentist while under heavy sedation.

Lifetime is blazing a more inclusive trail these days. Although still heavily female-friendly, the channel has broadened its scope with reality shows like Project Runway, comedies such as Drop Dead Diva and, of course, those guilty-pleasure Lifetime original movies.

Although Lifetime programming has been available in Canada on a variety of different channels, it’s never been offered in one place under the Lifetime brand — until now, when Lifetime Canada makes its official debut on Monday, August 27.

There’s a whole whack of new programming coming up, ranging from a sexy new series starring Jennifer Love Hewitt to a reality show about the family of the late Whitney Houston (Houston Family Chronicles) to a much-hyped original biopic featuring Lindsay Lohan playing screen icon Elizabeth Taylor. Here are some highlights:

 

Dance Moms/Dance Moms: Miami

If you think those Real Housewives are nutty, then you haven’t met the women on Dance Moms and its Miami-set spin-off, who make the mothers on Toddlers & Tiaras seem like paragons of well-adjusted normalcy by comparison. In the original, hard-ass choreographer Abby Lee Miller coaches a group of talented teen dancers while contending with their borderline-psychotic mothers; in Miami, dance instructors Angel Armas and Victor Smalley face the same challenges — but with more Spanish.

PREMIERES: Tuesday, August 28

 

The Client List

Jennifer Love Hewitt whispers at things far naughtier than ghosts in this provocative new drama. Hewitt plays Riley Parks, a single mom in a small Texas town who is struggling to make ends meet when she takes a job at what she thinks is a day spa. As it turns out, the spa’s specialty is the tried-and-true happy-ending massage, and she quickly realizes the only way she’ll make enough money to keep her house out of foreclosure is to offer her customers the full range of services, so to speak. As the series progresses, Riley juggles the demands of being a suburban mom with her secret life as a sex worker.

PREMIERES: Sunday, September 2

 

Liz and Dick

Not only is this a make-or-break comeback for troubled starlet Lindsay Lohan, it’s also a warts-and-all docudrama about the turbulent, passionate, booze-fuelled romance between movie stars Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton. With Lohan as Liz and Grant Bowler as Burton, this made-for-TV movie promises to dig up all the glamourous dirt of a coupling that was as combustible onscreen as it was in real life. Other Lifetime original movies coming up later in the fall include: Blue Lagoon: The Awakening, a remake of the 1980 soft-core camp classic; Steel Magnolias, a remake of the Southern-fried dramedy featuring an African-American cast headed by Queen Latifah; and Ring of Fire, a biopic starring singer Jewel in the role of June Carter Cash.

PREMIERES: TBA later this fall

 

Prank My Mom

On a lighter note, this hidden-camera funfest gives mischievous kids the opportunity to punk their moms, whose reactions can be genuinely hilarious. These are no run-of-mill pranks, though; sons and daughters stage fake pregnancies, arrests and other over-the-top scenarios as they attempt to push their poor moms over the edge.

PREMIERES: TBA later this fall

 

The Conversation with Amanda de Cadanet

Demi Moore is the exec producer of this intimite talk show featuring U.K. TV host Amanda de Cadanet, who chats up famous women ranging from Lady Gaga to Jane Fonda about their extraordinary lives.

PREMIERES: Sunday, September 2