In 2010, actress Jennifer Love Hewitt and Lifetime teamed up to put a timely twist on the network’s oft-lamented “woman in peril” film fodder.
Hewitt executive-produced and starred in The Client List, a sobering tale of a housewife who resorts to desperate means to save her house from foreclosure and her family from financial ruin. Though some derided the ripped-from-the-headlines tale as tawdry, the film touched a nerve with viewers, garnering impressive ratings and earning Hewitt a Golden Globe nomination for her performance.
This month, The Client List returns as a 10-episode series that reunites Hewitt with venerable actress Cybill Shepherd, who plays her no-nonsense mom. “I wouldn’t have done this series without her,” says Hewitt. “We have great chemistry onscreen as mother and daughter, and offscreen she is simply amazing.”
Though the women’s names have changed (Hewitt’s character is now known as Riley and Shepherd’s rechristened Linette) and details tweaked to accommodate the series format, the heart of the tale remains a mother’s staunch refusal to let herself and her children fall victim to tough times. “We were excited to turn this into a series given where families are economically — and where women are sexually — in the world today,” says Hewitt. “The name change was to help distinguish my character from the film, but she is still very much dealing with the debt left from her husband, a foreclosing home and two kids to raise.”
Colin Egglesfield joins the Client cast as Riley’s brother-in-law, continuing the storyline of her failed marriage and the familial turmoil that results. Whether the handsome actor will also serve as a love interest — or a client — “You’ll have to watch to find out!” Hewitt says.
The biggest change to the series may also be its best. Riley will spend more time with her raucous, sexy, savvy coworkers, led by Grey’s Anatomy alum Loretta Devine — making room for some humor. “As in life, you can’t take things too seriously all the time,” Hewitt says, “so the show will walk a tightrope between comedy and drama.”
But, Hewitt insists, The Client List won’t sacrifice its real-life moorings.
“This is a provocative, sometimes comical, always real story about the human condition and what it means to be a woman and a mom.”
The Client List premieres Sunday, April 8 at 10/9CT
Photo: Matthew Rolston for Lifetime