TLC / Tyler Perry
TLC / Tyler Perry

In April, when the series was first announced, I wondered whether Tyler Perry’s TV contract with the OWN network was exclusive – meaning, he cannot produce new programming for other TV networks while he’s under contract with OWN. But then I found out that TLC is owned by Discovery Communications, who also happen to be co-owners of the OWN network; so it’s still very much within the “family,” so to speak.

But yes, Tyler Perry is bringing TLC (formerly known as The Learning Channel) its very first scripted series. Up until this announcement, the network primarily focused on reality TV series and what they called “lifestyle” programming.

The new show from Perry is titled “Too Close to Home,” and it will center on a young woman who achieves unparalleled success on the Washington political circuit, only to see it slip away when her affair with a married senator makes headlines. She is forced back to her much more humble beginnings, where her past and its players resurface.

In the April announcement, it wasn’t said whether the lead character would be played by a black actress, and I certainly didn’t want to assume. Although just about every single Tyler Perry-branded TV series and film thus far have revolved around the lives of black characters in lead roles. A question I asked was whether TLC’s new partnership with Perry is the beginning of a rebranding of the network, moving more into scripted territory, and whether they want to target a specific audience demographic that they know Tyler Perry will bring.

That question was answered, in part, 2 weeks ago, when a first cast photo was released. This will be Tyler Perry’s first series or film with an all-white starring cast.

The above new cast photo does include one black actress o the left – Ashley Love-Mills is her name as I learned this morning. Although how involved her character is in the overall series isn’t known at this time. A former Miss North Carolina, Love-Mills is relatively new to acting, with an appearance in an episode of the TV series “Nashville” on her resume. her role in “Too Close to Home” will be a recurring one.

Per the press release:

Danielle Savre will star as the lead Anna while Heather Locklear and Matt Battaglia join the cast as guest stars. Cast in other leading roles are Brock O’Hurn, Kelly Sullivan, Brad Benedict and Brooke Anne Smith.

Series regulars include Alpha Trivette, Trisha Rae Stahl, Robert Craighead, Annie Thrash, and Curran Walters. Recurring cast members are Ashley Love-Mills, Nick Ballard, Charles Justo, Christian Ochoa, and Justin Gabriel.

“We are thrilled with this dynamic cast for our first ever scripted project on TLC,” said Nancy Daniels, President and General Manager, TLC. “Tyler Perry has proven time and time again that his characters are at the crux of great storytelling. Too Close to Home is yet another example of that, and we know our viewers will be enthralled with how this story unfolds.”

The story follows Anna, a young woman who escaped her working class upbringing in Alabama to start fresh in Washington, D.C. After making national headlines in a major political scandal involving one of the nation’s most powerful players, she is forced to return to her roots and face a past she thought she left behind. Seeking help and forgiveness from the same people she abandoned for a “better” life, Anna finds herself right back where she worked so hard to escape… TOO CLOSE TO HOME.

The series will be an eight-part drama, each episode an hour long.

I’d be interested in seeing how this new series differs, if at all, when compared to past/current Tyler Perry series and movies.

Perry, who currently produces four series on OWN, will write, direct and produce “Too Close to Home.”

And if you’re wondering when he’ll return to the big screen, there’s his new “Madea Halloween” flick which will be out this fall.

Watch a first teaser for “Too Close to Home” below: