Jana Kramer knew the moment she read the script for the Lifetime movie, “Soccer Mom Madam,” that she had to be part of the project. After years of taking on heartwarming characters including multiple Christmas movies, she wanted to be able to return to the kind of down-and-dirty role that she had played on “One Tree Hill.”
Her quest started with begging executive producer Oly Adelson for the job.
“I was like I’ll do whatever,” Kramer says. “This script is so amazing. It’s fun and it’s sassy and there’s depth to it. It just made me feel excited.
“Not that I don’t love the sweet Christmas movies but there’s something about really going there – vulnerability and emotionally – and remembering why I love acting so much. You can just bring in so much of your personal life.”
The begging worked and how Kramer responded can be seen when the made-for-cable production debuts at 8 p.m. June 6.
Kramer plays Anna, a single mother who doesn’t have a way to support her young children. She lands a job at a massage parlor known for more than traditional massages. Anna goes from worker to madam when she starts a high end New York escort service that matches beautiful young women with the wealthiest and most powerful men in the city.
Her good life is threatened when the FBI begins to investigate her in an effort to arrest some of the more prominent members of her elite clientele.
Adelson explains that this film – inspired by real events – was interesting to her because of the two lives Anna had to juggle – soccer mom by day, madam by night.
“Those two lives ultimately are going to collide and that journey is what intrigued me about it. It’s about human things. It’s about betrayal. It’s about family. It’s about love,” Adelson says. “It’s all the things that we encounter every day and she encountered it differently.”
Kramer’s research to play the role included talking to the woman who inspired the movie. That initially gave Kramer some concerns because she was afraid she would not be able to match the woman’s way of speaking or her mannerisms.
Adelson calmed Kramer down by reminding her that while the film is based on a true story, it is not an exact telling of what happened. Once Kramer was able to mix what she had learned in her conversations with the real ex-madam with her own ideas about the character, finding the way to play the role became easier.
“Once I got the idea out of my head that ‘OK I don’t have to portray this person exactly,’ I wanted people to see that she was just doing the best that she could,” Kramer says. “It’s like I’m going to do what I have to do to support my kids and it may not be what you like but I have to do what I have to do.
“My biggest challenge, I guess it was just making sure that I kept her focus on the kids.”
Once the filming started, Adelson was delighted she listened to Kramer’s begging. She saw that Kramer was able to bring the kind of vulnerability and strength to the role needed to make the character believable.
Lifetime behind bars
“Soccer Mom Madam” is the latest movie on Lifetime based on actual events. The cable channel’s new series, “Cellmate Secrets,” goes directly to the source material. The series, narrated by Angie Harmon, reveals new insights and information on those behind bars through first-hand accounts by former friends, guards, cellmates and lovers.
The docuseries – set to debut at 10 p.m. June 4 – looks at Casey Anthony, Joyce Mitchell, Drew Peterson, Chris Watts, Susan Smith and Shayna Hubers. Many of the episodes will be broadcast after Lifetime Original Movies that followed these true stories.
Executive producer Kim Clemons is certain the series will draw an audience because people are so intrigued by true crime.
“These are regular people that could be your neighbors. You’d never suspect that someone that you know and like and went to school with would do something as heinous as whatever our cases are. So That’s what’s intriguing.”
The first episode looks at Casey Anthony who in 2011 was found not guilty of killing her 2-year-old daughter. Robyn Adams talks about her relationship with Anthony while they were in prison.
“There was a sense of kinship that was definitely there between Casey and me,” Adams says. “We did develop a very strong friendship, considering the circumstances.”
As for being part of the new docuseries, Adams says she feels like her whole life has been a Lifetime movie.