“Baby Sellers”: Lifetime movie shines a light on child trafficking

Just as it did back in 2005 with the miniseries Human Trafficking, Lifetime is again shining the light on one of the more troubling human-rights issues of our time. Baby Sellers — also produced by Robert Halmi Sr. — follows the hunt to take down an international child-trafficking ring in which newborns are bought or stolen from disadvantaged parents and given to adoptive parents who often have no idea what had to happen for them to get those children.

Kirstie Alley plays the head of the U.S.-based adoption agency that seems very innocent and law-abiding, but is in fact brutally ruthless in its methods, plumbing the poorest of areas in places like Mumbai and Rio, feeding off the poverty and corruption that give rise to illegal trafficking. Some scenes in Baby Sellers are very difficult to watch, as babies are stolen by nurses and doctors right out of hospitals, and their mothers and fathers told the baby had died. Then there are the lengths to which the traffickers will go in covering up their activities, including murder.

It may be a bit jarring for audiences to see the usually boisterous and fun-loving Alley play such a villainous character. Costar Jennifer Finnigan, who plays the dogged agent trying to snare Alley’s character, can relate, having grown up watching Alley on Cheers.

“It was fun for me to see her in a more dramatic role,” Finnigan says. “She’s a big personality, and she can be intimidating, even though she’s a really fun, really good gal, she can definitely be intimidating, and she really worked that in this character. She does it all with a smile on her face, which makes it even creepier. It was funny, because we were battling each other between ‘Action!’ and ‘Cut!’, but in between takes we were making each other laugh.”

It’s a change of pace for Finnigan as well, as she’s made a career thus far often playing lawyers and doctors, most recently in the medical drama Monday Mornings. But she relished the chance to show her tough side, along with telling this heartbreaking but important story.

“We are really trying to raise awareness, trying to give people a window into how terrifying and scary some of these situations are, both in the United States and in countries where people can’t protect themselves. Women and little girls [there] oftentimes really have no value.”

Baby Sellers premieres Saturday, Aug. 17, at 8pm on Lifetime.

Kirstie Alley Baby Sellers Lifetime

Photo: © 2013 Credit: Diyah Pera