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Once upon a time the women-centered network Lifetime was the punchline of a joke. Whenever you had a inkling to watch a downtrodden woman who had been abused take revenge on her attacker, you knew exactly where to turn — Lifetime.

But over the years the network has expanded its repertoire, carefully adding shows and original films that appeal to a wider audience, which apparently includes black women.

After Sins of the Mother, a film adaptation of Carleen Brice’s novel Orange Mint and Honey, broke viewing records, becoming the second highest rated film in the network’s history, Lifetime has been steadily adding more programing targeting black women.

As Shadow & Act reports, the network purchased the all-black remake of Steel Magnolias, they’ve also bought to rights to Terry McMillian’s A Day Late and A Dollar Short, as well as Mary J. Blige’s Betty Shabazz and Coretta Scott King project entitled Parallel Lives. Now Lifetime is adding yet another film to its mix, giving the go ahead to the film Abducted which will star Aunjanue Ellis, Keke Palmer, and Sherri Shepherd.

The network offered more details in a press release:

Lifetime has green lit the Original Movie Abducted: The Carlina White Story, starring Aunjanue Ellis (The Help), Keke Palmer (True Jackson, VP), and Emmy® Award winner Sherri Shepherd (“30 Rock,” “The View”) in the remarkable true story of Carlina White (Palmer), who after being abducted as an infant from a New York hospital, solved her own kidnapping and reunited with her biological parents 23 years later. Production will commence in Vancouver this week, with the movie slated to air later this year. The case is reported to be the first known infant abduction from a New York hospital. 

In August of 1987, new parents Joy White (Shepherd) and Carl Tyson (Roger Cross, “24”) took their 19-day old daughter Carlina to Harlem Hospital in New York with a high fever. Ann Pettway (Ellis), who had suffered a series of miscarriages and was desperate for a child of her own, posed as a hospital nurse and befriended Carlina’s parents, even offering to watch over their daughter. But shortly after Carlina was admitted, Pettway removed the child’s IV line, placed her in an oversized handbag, and walked out of the hospital with Carlina hidden from view. While Joy and Carl desperately searched for their daughter over the years, Pettway was raising Carlina as Nejdra “Netty” Nance in Bridgeport, Connecticut – a mere 45 miles from New York City. As Carlina grew older she began to suspect Pettway was not her birth mother and launched her own investigation. After contacting the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, Carlina was reunited with her biological parents in January 2011.

With Lifetime stepping up to acquire more original films geared toward black women, I wonder will networks like OWN and BET follow suit.

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  • I remember that story about the missing girl being found.