Lifetime
Lifetime

15 Celebrities Who Have Starred in Lifetime Movies

Lifetime
Lifetime

From classic titles like the Tori Spelling-starrer Mother, May I Sleep With Danger? to an abnormally vast collection of Christmas movies starring Dean Cain, pop culture (and movie punch lines) wouldn't be the same without the hundreds of Lifetime Movies we have come to know and love. Though the made-for-TV movies originally ran on the regular Lifetime channel, on June 29, 1998, the network gave these so-bad-they're-good films their very own platform with the launch of the Lifetime Movie Network, or LMN (which today goes by the truncated Lifetime Movies moniker).

To celebrate 20 years of bad-ass women getting revenge and real-life crime stories being played out in semi-fictional—and often overly dramatic—ways, we're paying tribute to 15 celebrities who've lent their acting talents to Lifetime movies.

1. AND 2. WILL FERRELL AND KRISTEN WIIG

The timing couldn’t have been more appropriate, or suspicious: On April 1, 2015, The Hollywood Reporter announced that Will Ferrell and Kristen Wiig had secretly filmed a Lifetime movie. “This is no April Fools’ joke,” the story began, then went on to explain that the movie, titled A Deadly Adoption, would see Ferrell and Wiig playing a well-to-do couple who open their home to a pregnant young woman “with the hopes of adopting her unborn child—then things quickly go awry .”

Just as quickly as the news made headlines, Entertainment Weekly issued its own exclusive that because the “top secret” project had leaked, they were now killing it entirely ... which was followed by another “exclusive,” this time from The Wrap, that Ferrell’s denial was likely just a ploy. That final report turned out to be correct; in June of the same year, audiences got to sink their teeth into the slightly tongue-in-cheek adoption drama.

3. ROB LOWE

Rob Lowe has clearly caught the Lifetime bug. After taking on the title role in 2012’s Drew Peterson: Untouchable—about the Chicago police officer accused of killing one wife and making a second one disappear—he returned a year later to play Florida prosecutor Jeff Ashton in Prosecuting Casey Anthony. In January, Lowe returned to the estrogen-charged channel to play Miami playboy—and heir to the Fontainebleau hotel fortune—Ben Novack, Jr., who was brutally murdered (along with his mother) at the behest of his wealth-seeking wife (a former stripper). What would Sam Seaborn say?

4. KALEY CUOCO

Speaking of Drew Peterson: that wife he made disappear? That would be Stacy Peterson, who was portrayed by The Big Bang Theory’s Kaley Cuoco in the 2012 movie.

5. REESE WITHERSPOON

In 1991, the same year that Reese Witherspoon made her big-screen debut in The Man in the Moon, the future Oscar-winner—then all of 15 years old—starred alongside fellow future Oscar-winner Patricia Arquette in Diane Keaton’s feature directorial debut, Wildflower, about a youngster (Witherspoon) who befriends an abused and partially deaf girl (Arquette).

6. HILARY SWANK

In between The Next Karate Kid and Beverly Hills, 90210, Hilary Swank logged some time on the set of 1997’s Dying to Belong. Swank plays an aspiring sorority sister who is haunted by a Hell Week hazing that ends in the death of her friend. Though it’s ruled a suicide, Swank isn’t buying it and is determined to find the truth (regardless of whether anyone believes her). Three years later, Swank won an Oscar. (Five years after that, she won a second Oscar.)

7. ZAC EFRON

Mary-Louise Parker is a single mother to twin sons who’ve been diagnosed with autism in 2004’s Miracle Run (The Unexpected Journey), which is based on a true story. Zac Efron plays one of those sons, whose dreams are championed by his mom. (Cue the waterworks.)

8. KIRSTEN DUNST

Before there was 16 & Pregnant, there was Fifteen and Pregnant, a 1998 Lifetime movie in which the cute little bloodsucker from Interview with the Vampire gets pregnant, much to the embarrassment of her family. But over the next nine months, what began as a fracture turns into a bond. Who’s ready for a group hug?

9. MARCIA GAY HARDEN

Marcia Gay Harden has never let a little thing like an Oscar win stand in her way when it comes to saying “yes” to a Lifetime movie. She’s one of the channel’s most beloved veterans, working on both true crime biopics like 2011’s Amanda Knox: Murder on Trial in Italy and somewhat campier entries like 2004’s She’s Too Young, about a mom who discovers her seemingly perfect daughter is getting up to all sorts of sexual shenanigans with her friends.

10. HAYDEN PANETTIERE

Playing the titular role in Amanda Knox: Murder on Trial in Italy—and Marcia Gay Harden’s daughter—is former Heroes star Hayden Panettiere, who herself is a Lifetime movie vet. In 1999, she starred in If You Believe, playing the Christmas-loving inner-spirit of a frazzled book editor in this Lifetime play on A Christmas Carol.

11. KRISTEN BELL

In 2004—the same year that Veronica Mars debuted—Kristen Bell nabbed the title role in Gracie’s Choice, about a teenage girl who becomes a surrogate parent to her four younger siblings when their drug addict mom is carted off to jail.

12. KERI RUSSELL

Two years before her star-making turn in Felicity, Keri Russell dug her nails into the role of a teenage Lolita in 1996’s The Babysitter’s Seduction. The title may sound self-explanatory, but there’s even more to it: Yes, the babysitter gets seduced. But she also gets embroiled in a murder investigation.

13. KIM BASINGER

In 2006, nearly a decade after winning an Oscar for L.A. Confidential, Kim Basinger starred in The Mermaid Chair, Lifetime’s adaptation of Sue Monk Kidd’s novel about a wife who finds herself falling in love with a Benedictine monk.

14. CHRISTINA HENDRICKS

Four years before she became Mad Men’s resident bombshell Joan Holloway, Christina Hendricks starred in Hunger Point, a 2003 movie about a weight-obsessed family (with Hendricks stuck in the middle).

15. CHRISTINA RICCI

Like The Client List before it, Lifetime’s 2014 movie Lizzie Borden Took an Ax, starring Christina Ricci as the famously homicidal young woman of the title, proved popular enough with audiences to be turned into a series, The Lizzie Borden Chronicles.

nextArticle.image_alt|e
Hulton Archive/Getty Images
The Star Trek Theme Song Has Lyrics
Hulton Archive/Getty Images
Hulton Archive/Getty Images

The Star Trek theme song is familiar to pretty much anyone who lived in the free world (and probably elsewhere, too) in the late 20th century. The tune is played during the show's opening credits; a slightly longer version is played, accompanied by stills from various episodes, during the closing credits. The opening song is preceded by William Shatner (as Captain Kirk) doing his now-legendary monologue recitation, which begins: "Space, the final frontier ..."

The show's familiar melody was written by respected film and TV composer Alexander Courage, who said the Star Trek theme's main inspiration was the Richard Whiting song "Beyond the Blue Horizon." In Courage's contract it was stipulated that, as the composer, he would receive royalties every time the show was aired and the theme song played. If, somehow, Star Trek made it into syndication—which, of course, it ultimately did—Courage stood to make a lot of money. And so did the person who wrote the lyrics.

WAIT... THERE WERE LYRICS?

Gene Roddenberry, the show's creator, wrote lyrics to the theme song.

"Beyond the rim of the star-light,
my love is wand'ring in star-flight!"

Why would Roddenberry even bother?

The lyrics were never even meant to be heard on the show, but not because the network (NBC) nixed them. Roddenberry nixed them himself. Roddenberry wanted a piece of the composing profits, so he wrote the hokey lyrics solely to receive a "co-writer" credit.

"I know he'll find in star-clustered reaches
Love, strange love a star woman teaches."

As one of the composers, Roddenberry received 50 percent of the royalties ... cutting Alexander Courage's share in half. Not surprisingly, Courage was furious about the deal. Though it was legal, he admitted, it was unethical because Roddenberry had contributed nothing to why the music was successful.

Roddenberry was unapologetic. According to Snopes, he once declared, "I have to get some money somewhere. I'm sure not gonna get it out of the profits of Star Trek."

In 1969, after Star Trek officially got the ax, no one (Courage and Roddenberry included) could possibly have imagined the show's great popularity and staying power.

Courage, who only worked on two shows in Star Trek's opening season because he was busy working on the 1967 Dr. Doolittle movie, vowed he would never return to Star Trek.

He never did.

THE WORDS

If you're looking for an offbeat karaoke number, here are Roddenberry's lyrics, as provided by Snopes:

Beyond
The rim of the star-light
My love
Is wand'ring in star-flight
I know
He'll find in star-clustered reaches
Love,
Strange love a star woman teaches.
I know
His journey ends never
His star trek
Will go on forever.
But tell him
While he wanders his starry sea
Remember, remember me.

nextArticle.image_alt|e
Universal Pictures Home Entertainment
The 10 Wildest Movie Plot Twists
Laura Harring in Mulholland Drive (2001)
Laura Harring in Mulholland Drive (2001)
Universal Pictures Home Entertainment

An ending often makes or breaks a movie. There’s nothing quite as satisfying as having the rug pulled out from under you, particularly in a thriller. But too many flicks that try to shock can’t stick the landing—they’re outlandish and illogical, or signal where the plot is headed. Not all of these films are entirely successful, but they have one important attribute in common: From the classic to the cultishly beloved, they involve hard-to-predict twists that really do blow viewers’ minds, then linger there for days, if not life. (Warning: Massive spoilers below.)

1. PSYCHO (1960)

Alfred Hitchcock often constructed his movies like neat games that manipulated the audience. The Master of Suspense delved headfirst into horror with Psycho, which follows a secretary (Janet Leigh) who sneaks off with $40,000 and hides in a motel. The ensuing jolt depends on Leigh’s fame at the time: No one expected the ostensible star and protagonist to die in a gory (for the time) shower butchering only a third of the way into the running time. Hitchcock outdid that feat with the last-act revelation that Anthony Perkins’s supremely creepy Norman Bates is embodying his dead mother.

2. PLANET OF THE APES (1968)

No, not the botched Tim Burton remake that tweaked the original movie’s famous reveal in a way that left everyone scratching their heads. The Charlton Heston-starring sci-fi gem continues to stupefy anyone who comes into its orbit. Heston, of course, plays an astronaut who travels to a strange land where advanced apes lord over human slaves. It becomes clear once he finds the decrepit remains of the Statue of Liberty that he’s in fact on a future Earth. The anti-violence message, especially during the political tumult of 1968, shook people up as much as the time warp.

3. DEEP RED (1975)

It’s not rare for a horror movie to flip the script when it comes to unmasking its killer, but it’s much rarer that such a film causes a viewer to question their own perception of the world around them. Such is the case for Deep Red, Italian director Dario Argento’s (Suspiria) slasher masterpiece. A pianist living in Rome (David Hemmings) comes upon the murder of a woman in her apartment and teams up with a female reporter to find the person responsible. Argento’s whodunit is filled to the brim with gorgeous photography, ghastly sights, and delirious twists. But best of all is the final sequence, in which the pianist retraces his steps to discover that the killer had been hiding in plain sight all along. Rewind to the beginning and you’ll discover that you caught an unknowing glimpse, too.

4. SLEEPAWAY CAMP (1983)

Sleepaway Camp is notorious among horror fans for a number of reasons: the bizarre, stilted acting and dialogue; hilariously amateurish special effects; and ‘80s-to-their-core fashions. But it’s best known for the mind-bending ending, which—full disclosure—reads as possibly transphobic today, though it’s really hard to say what writer-director Robert Hiltzik had in mind. Years after a boating accident that leaves one of two siblings dead, Angela is raised by her aunt and sent to a summer camp with her cousin, where a killer wreaks havoc. In the lurid climax, we see that moody Angela is not only the murderer—she’s actually a boy. Her aunt, who always wanted a daughter, raised her as if she were her late brother. The final animalistic shot prompts as many gasps as cackles.

5. THE USUAL SUSPECTS (1995)

The Usual Suspects has left everyone who watches it breathless by the time they get to the fakeout conclusion. Roger "Verbal" Kint (Kevin Spacey), a criminal with cerebral palsy, regales an interrogator in the stories of his exploits with a band of fellow crooks, seen in flashback. Hovering over this is the mysterious villainous figure Keyser Söze. It’s not until Verbal leaves and jumps into a car that customs agent David Kujan realizes that the man fabricated details, tricking the law and the viewer into his fake reality, and is in fact the fabled Söze.

6. PRIMAL FEAR (1996)

No courtroom movie can surpass Primal Fear’s discombobulating effect. Richard Gere’s defense attorney becomes strongly convinced that his altar boy client Aaron (Edward Norton) didn’t commit the murder of an archbishop with which he’s charged. The meek, stuttering Aaron has sudden violent outbursts in which he becomes "Roy" and is diagnosed with dissociative identity disorder, leading to a not guilty ruling. Gere’s lawyer visits Aaron about the news, and as he’s leaving, a wonderfully maniacal Norton reveals that he faked the multiple personalities.

7. FIGHT CLUB (1999)

Edward Norton is no stranger to taking on extremely disparate personalities in his roles, from Primal Fear to American History X. The unassuming actor can quickly turn vicious, which led to ideal casting for Fight Club, director David Fincher’s adaptation of the Chuck Palahniuk novel. Fincher cleverly keeps the audience in the dark about the connections between Norton’s timid, unnamed narrator and Brad Pitt’s hunky, aggressive Tyler Durden. After the two start the titular bruising group, the plot significantly increases the stakes, with the club turning into a sort of anarchist terrorist organization. The narrator eventually comes to grips with the fact that he is Tyler and has caused all the destruction around him.

8. THE SIXTH SENSE (1999)

Early in his career, M. Night Shyamalan was frequently (perhaps a little too frequently) compared to Hitchcock for his ability to ratchet up tension while misdirecting his audience. He hasn’t always earned stellar reviews since, but The Sixth Sense remains deservedly legendary for its final twist. At the end of the ghost story, in which little Haley Joel Osment can see dead people, it turns out that the psychologist (Bruce Willis) who’s been working with the boy is no longer living himself, the result of a gunshot wound witnessed in the opening sequence.

9. THE OTHERS (2001)

The Sixth Sense’s climax was spooky, but not nearly as unnerving as Nicole Kidman’s similarly themed ghost movie The Others, released just a couple years later. Kidman gives a superb performance in the elegantly styled film from the Spanish writer-director Alejandro Amenábar, playing a mother in a country house after World War II protecting her photosensitive children from light and, eventually, dead spirits occupying the place. Only by the end does it become clear that she’s in denial about the fact that she’s a ghost, having killed her children in a psychotic break before committing suicide. It’s a bleak capper to a genuinely haunting yarn.

10. MULHOLLAND DRIVE (2001)

David Lynch’s surrealist movies may follow dream logic, but that doesn’t mean their plots can’t be readily discerned. Mulholland Drive is his most striking work precisely because, in spite of its more wacko moments, it adds up to a coherent, tragic story. The mystery starts innocently enough with the dark-haired Rita (Laura Elena Harring) waking up with amnesia from a car accident in Los Angeles and piecing together her identity alongside the plucky aspiring actress Betty (Naomi Watts). It takes a blue box to unlock the secret that Betty is in fact Diane, who is in love with and envious of Camilla (also played by Harring) and has concocted a fantasy version of their lives. The real Diane arranges for Camilla to be killed, leading to her intense guilt and suicide. Only Lynch can go from Nancy Drew to nihilism so swiftly and deftly.

SECTIONS

arrow
LIVE SMARTER