Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. speaking.  (Photo by Julian Wasser//Time Life Pictures/Getty Images)
Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. speaking. (Photo by Julian Wasser//Time Life Pictures/Getty Images)

In case you didn’t get the memo, Spike TV is being rebranded and relaunched as the Paramount Network. And with that comes a new lineup of programming which will kick-off in 2018, and will include a mix of new scripted series, non-scripted returning pop-culture favorites, and original sports and specials for a broad audience. The new network promises original shows debuting during the first three months of 2018 that will demonstrate the rebranded network’s commitment to reaching a wide viewership with provocative, compelling storytelling featuring top notch talent both in front and behind the camera.

“Our mission is to establish Paramount Network as a prime destination for premium storytelling,” said Kevin Kay, President, Paramount Network, TV Land, and CMT. “From Alicia Silverstone as a trailblazing independent working mother in the 1970’s to Michael Shannon as an FBI negotiator during the Branch Davidians dramatic standoff and siege, Paramount Network will be the home to compelling stories, unforgettable characters, and high quality production with a distinctive global appeal.”

Paramount Network will showcase the following in the first quarter of 2018; of note is a 2-hour documentary titled “I Am Martin Luther King Jr,” from filmmaker Derik Murray, which celebrates the life and achievements of our country’s foremost civil rights leader, providing audiences with what the network describes as “an insightful contemporary perspective” of Dr. King “structured around seminal events of the Civil Rights movement.”

Also on the network’s launch schedule is a TV series adaptation of “Heathers,” the 1988 cult black comedy that starred Winona Ryder, Christian Slater and Shannen Doherty. The original film follows 4 teenage girls — three of whom are wealthy and beautiful, and named Heather — in the most dominant clique at a fictional Ohio high school: the leader, Heather Chandler; the quiet, bookish and bulimic Heather Duke; and the weak-willed cheerleader Heather McNamara. Though they are the most popular students, the Heathers are both feared and hated. They invite 17-year-old Veronica Sawyer to join their group, by association making her a very popular girl as well. However, Veronica has had enough of their selfish behavior and longs to return to her old life and her nerdy friends.

In a couple of twists on the original, one of the 3 Heathers in the series will be male, and another will be black. In the 1988 film, all the Heathers were played by young white actresses.

Of note, given this blog’s specific interests, newcomer Jasmine Matthews will play Heather McNamara, the weak-willed cheerleader who was played by Lisanne Falk in the original film.

In terms of current Spike TV series that will transfer to the Paramount Network, “Lip Sync Battle” will return for a fourth season, hosted by LL Cool J and Chrissy Teigen.

The rest of the lineup includes:

— “American Woman” – Starring Alicia Silverstone and Mena Suvari, this new half-hour series is inspired by the real-life upbringing of co-executive producer Kyle Richards (“The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills”). “American Woman” follows Bonnie (Silverstone) an unconventional mother struggling to raise her two daughters after leaving her husband amid the rise of second-wave feminism in the 70s. With the help of her two best friends, Kathleen (Suvari) and Diana (Jennifer Bartels), these three women each discover their own brand of independence in a glamorous and ever-changing world reluctant to give it.

— And “Waco” – The six-part event series “Waco” will reveal untold story exploring the true life details leading up to and chronicling the 51- day siege between the FBI, AFT and David Koresh’s spiritual sect, The Branch Davidians. Told from several perspectives of those most intimately involved from both sides of the conflict, including surviving Branch Davidians which has never been shared on television before, is surprising in its stark contrast to the media narrative at the time and what is remembered of Waco almost 25 years later. The impressive cast includes Michael Shannon starring as lead FBI negotiator, Gary Noesner with the role of the infamous cult leader, David Koresh, to be played by Taylor Kitsch. John Leguizamo, Paul Sparks, Rory Culkin and Andrea Riseborough round out the “Waco” cast.