There are life lessons we can learn from the stars of upcoming Lifetime movies:
1) It’s surprisingly easy to squeeze a guy inside a dog crate. However, it’s difficult to hoist a suitcase over a wall, it there’s a body inside.
2) The effects of a gory day can be cleansed easily. “Shaving cream gets out fake blood,” Candice King (shown here) said, adding in jest: “And tequila at night.”
There are also some more-important things, involving diversity. We’ll get to them in a moment.
In a summer stretch when basic-cable and broadcast networks are awash in reruns and reality, Lifetime has new movies at 8 p.m. Saturdays.
That starts with fiction. On June 4, Angie Harmon plays a former hit woman in “Buried in Barstow”; on June 11, Melissa Joan Hart is a hoarder’s daughter in “Dirty Little Secret.”
Then comes a true-crime spurt:
— June 18: “Suitcase Killer: The Melanie McGuire Story”; King (“Vampire Diaries”) has the title role.
— June 25: “He’s Not Worth Dying For.” Young actors play teens who were in a romantic triangle fueled by social media; Robin Givens plays a stunned mother.
— July 2: “Jailbreak Lovers.” Catherine Bell (“Good Witch”) plays a prison worker, with Tom Stevens as the inmate she falls for.
People from those three films had virtual press conferences with reporters. They described work that is fast (“we shot so many scenes just back-to-back-to-back,” Stevens said) … and sometimes odd.
This may be the only time you’ll hear a comment like this, in which Jackson Hurst was speaking from the perspective of the guy he plays: “Did she kill somebody and shove him in a suitcase? Maybe. Do I still love her? Yes.”
Alongside any sameness, however, there are also grasps at variety.
That’s true in tone. Bell gave her jailbreak character humor and warmth. “She’s just this sweet woman who was totally in love,” she said.
And it’s true racially. Hilda Martin, who is Black, said her audition for “He’s Not Worth Dying For” was stress-free, because she knew she had no chance. “I looked up the real person and she was white. I knew I wasn’t going to get it.”
And then she did. She and Givens (as her mom) are in a story that otherwise involves white teens.
Consider that one step toward color-blind casting. “I’m happy with the way things are progressing,” said Nicole Thompson, who directed “Suitcase” (not the film Martin is in). “There’s still more to do.”
Thompson, who is Black, emerged from the prestigious University of Southern California film school and has done several shorts. Now “Suitcase” is her first movie.
Kim Raver sees that as a sign of diversity. She’s white, an actress who also produces – including the “Suitcase” film. Lifetime, she said, has worked to have “more women – and more women of color” on both sides of the camera.
In the old days, Black directors might be confined to movies about racial problems. Not any more; Thompson was busy filming white folks involved in dismemberment and suitcase-tossing.