BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KGET) — As far as Reba McEntire is concerned, there is no one better than her to play traveling circuit judge Kim Wanker in the new Lifetime movie “The Hammer.” The film is scheduled to debut at 8 p.m. Jan. 7.

“Well, legally, I get to be very bossy. In real life, I’m bossy. Anybody can tell you that,” McEntire says with a great deal of pride.

Her “bossy” attitude helps her play the character that is based on the 5th District of Nevada judge assigned to cover everything between Reno and Las Vegas. The real Wanker’s reputation is being tough and very creative when it comes to the law.

McEntire fell in love with both the real judge and the one she is playing inspired by Wanker as soon as she read the script. She liked the sensibility and practicality the judge brings to the bench.

After the reigning judge passes away under suspicious circumstances, Wanker finds herself covering the massive 25,000-square mile circuit filled with rugged, often desolate areas where anything and everything can happen. She lays down the law with such a no-nonsense brand of justice, Wanker quickly earned the nickname “The Hammer.”

As the investigation of the former judge’s death heats up, Wanker’s sister Kris (Melissa Peterman), who runs the local brothel, suddenly becomes the prime suspect, and the judge must work even harder to make certain the appropriate justice is served.

There were a couple of other reasons McEntire jumped at the chance to be the star and executive producer for the made-for-cable production. She gets to work with her partner, Rex Linn, who plays Bart Crawford, a mysterious cowboy with unknown motives. McEntire and Linn met in 1991 when they worked on the Kenny Rogers TV movie, “The Gambler.”

Linn jokes that Brad Pitt was the first choice to take on his role but he won the part. He quickly adds (in a slightly sarcastic tone) that McEntire has never been bossy. He puts a strong emphasis on the word “never.”

Linn is best known for playing Sgt. Frank Tripp in the CBS drama “CSI: Miami” and for portraying Kevin Wachtell in the television series “Better Call Saul.” He and McEntire recently worked together on the ABC drama “Big Sky.”

 “He (Linn) was my first choice for the role because he’s got many different colors and flavors in there that he can portray. So to get to do movies and television together nowadays is the icing on the cake,” McEntire says. “Everybody in the cast was wonderful. We all fell in love with the crew. We fell in love with everybody that we got to work with and be around. In Canada, they were just terrific people. So it was overall a wonderful experience.”

McEntire also was excited about working again with Peterman. They have known each other for more than two decades including starring together in the situation comedy “Reba.”

It was a great reunion except McEntire and Peterman are not in synch when it comes to one thing. Peterman doesn’t think McEntire is bossy but just a person who knows what she wants and will make her feelings very clear.

Bossy or not, the relationship between McEntire and Lifetime appears to be working. This is Lifetime’s second collaboration with McEntire who also starred in and executive produced her 2021 holiday film, RebaMcEntire‘s “Christmas in Tune.” 

Movies are just part of the multimedia entertainment mogul’s world. She became a household name through a successful career in music earning a place in the Country Music Hall of Fame. She has won 16 ACM Awards, 15 American Music Awards, nine People’s Choice Awards, six CMA Awards, three Grammy Awards, a GMA Dove Award and was a 2018 Kennedy Center Honors recipient.

McEntire has had 35 career No.1 singles and sold more than 56 million albums worldwide. She recently earned her 60th Top 10 on the Billboard Country Airplay chart, extending her record for the most Top 10 hits among female artists.

This goes along with 11 movie credits, the lead role on Broadway in Irving Berlin’s “Annie Get Your Gun” and starring in her self-titled sitcom for six seasons.

McEntire enjoys being able to go between the music and acting worlds.

“I love acting. Of course, I act on stage, too, when I’m singing because I become a character for all of the people in the songs,” McEntire says. “Like when I sing ‘Fancy,’ I am the mother that had to let her daughter go out into the world.

“It’s something that I’ve done all my life with music and now, to get to do it on the big screen or on television, it’s a lot of fun. Whether it’s videos, TV, movies, whatever, on stage, I do love to do that. I love to entertain.”