Upfronts 2014: OWN Taps Toni Braxton To Star in 'Darlene Love Story'

The Oprah Winfrey Network has cast Grammy-winning artist and actress Toni Braxton to star in its first original movie about the life of veteran singer Darlene Love, the network announced Thursday.

Braxton, who currently stars in WEtv’s reality series Braxton Family Values, will portray the 1960’s iconic singer and Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame inductee who worked with Elvis Presley, Aretha Franklin, Frank Sinatra and Bruce Springsteen.

The network also announced the production of a two-night mini-series Tulsa starring Oscar-winning actress Octavia Spencer, which chronicles the 1921 Tulsa race riot, considered the largest race riot in U.S. history. In addition the network has commissioned Belief, a seven-part television event which explores man’s faith and search to connect with a higher being greater than himself, according to network officials.

OWN, which garnered its highest audience in network history during first quarter 2014, also announced it has given 20-episode orders for Tyler Perry’s sophomore series The Haves and the Have Nots and upcoming freshman series Single Moms Club.

"Coming off our most watched quarter in network history, we are excited to get to work on these new scripted projects with Octavia and Toni, said Erik Logan, president OWN.  “By diversifying our programming, we are also growing our audience, and these new projects put us in a great position to take the network to the next level.”

R. Thomas Umstead

R. Thomas Umstead serves as senior content producer, programming for Multichannel News, Broadcasting + Cable and Next TV. During his more than 30-year career as a print and online journalist, Umstead has written articles on a variety of subjects ranging from TV technology, marketing and sports production to content distribution and development. He has provided expert commentary on television issues and trends for such TV, print, radio and streaming outlets as Fox News, CNBC, the Today show, USA Today, The New York Times and National Public Radio. Umstead has also filmed, produced and edited more than 100 original video interviews, profiles and news reports featuring key cable television executives as well as entertainers and celebrity personalities.