*Lifetime announced Friday at the Television Critics Association’s winter press tour that it has ordered a biopic about Michael Jackson.
“Michael Jackson: Searching for Neverland,” is slated for a February production start date, and is based on the best-selling book, “Remember the Time: Protecting Michael Jackson in His Final Days.”
The story will be told through the eyes of the Jackson’s bodyguards, Bill Whitfield and Javon Beard. The film will star MJ impersonator Navi in his acting debut, alongside Chad L. Coleman (“The Walking Dead”) as Whitefield.
Suzanne de Passe, Madison Jones and Robert Teitel are executive producing. Dianne Houston is directing from a script by Elizabeth Hunter (“Beauty Shop”), Deadline reports.
In related news, Viola Davis will serve as executive producer and star in “Custody,” written and directed by Tony Award and Pulitzer Prize winner James Lapine (“Into the Woods”), which will debut on Lifetime on March 4.
The cast includes Hayden Panettiere, Catalina Sandino Moreno, Ellen Burstyn and Tony Shalhoub. The story centers on “three women brought together when hard-working single mother, Sara Diaz (Moreno), has her children taken from her after she is suspected of injuring her son. Ally Fisher (Panettiere), a recent law school graduate, is assigned to represent her case before Judge Martha Schulman (Davis), a veteran of the Family Court System.”
The cabler is also collaborating with James Franco for a yet another two-hour film — a romantic thriller titled “High School Lover,” premiering February 4.
The three new films join the previously announced “Beaches” remake starring Idina Menzel and Nia Long, and “Britney Ever After,” about the rise and fall (and rise again) of pop star Britney Spears. The film stars Natasha Bassett (“Hail, Caesar!”) in the title role, and will premiere Feb. 18.