Shannen Dougherty stars in two new Lifetime movies

Rick's Reviews

Shannen Dougherty is starring in two new Lifetime movies. (Photo courtesy of Lifetime)

Kelly Hu and Shannen Doherty star in the new Lifetime movie, “List of a Lifetime,” which examines what happens when a woman – who has been diagnosed with cancer and finds the daughter she gave up for adoption – makes a bucket list.

The stars of the made-for-cable production have very different views on making lists of things to be done during a person’s lifetime. Hu has put together a massive bucket list over the past 30 years.

Doherty has gone in the opposite direction.

“I have no bucket list. I think for me, I just think a bucket list is odd in my particular situation because it means that I’m sort of trying to check things off before my time runs out,” Doherty says.

If Doherty had to put something on a bucket list, it would be that she would just keep living.

It is not a question of whether or not to make a bucket list with the Lifetime movieBrenda Lee (Hu) is prompted to look for the daughter she gave up for adoption decades ago after being diagnosed with breast cancer. Her daughter, Talia (Sylvia Kwan), presses her birth mother to create a bucket list once she hears the devastating news.

The pair set out to complete everything on the list.  While keeping Brenda a secret from her adoptive parents Diana (Shannen Doherty) and Marty (Jamie Kahler), Talia grows closer to the mother she never knew. Meanwhile, Brenda discovers a meaningful relationship with Talia she didn’t know she needed, and a reason to fight for her life.

Hu will not reveal what is on her bucket list but one of the items might have been to take a role that is different than she normally gets. She tends to be cast in strong roles such as with “The Orville,” “Arrow” and “The Vampire Diaries.” The Lifetime movie was a big change for her.

“It was definitely a different kind of character for me. I never get to play these kinds of characters,” Hu says. “I think everybody always sees me as the martial arts girl kicking butt. But, kicking cancer’s ass, I think, is the hardest role that I’ve had to take on so far.

“This was really a role that I had the most difficulty preparing for. And, it had the biggest payoff in the end. It was absolutely amazing and I am so thankful to be able to do something like this.”

Patricia Velasquez stars as Brenda’s best friend, Meg while Jane Sibbett stars as Brenda’s oncologist, Dr. Elizabeth Boyer. Jim Klock also appears in the film as Brenda’s supervisor, Kevin.

“List of a Lifetime” debuts at 8 p.m. Oct. 10 on Lifetime.

“Dying to Belong,” 8 p.m. Oct. 9, Lifetime

Lifetime is keeping Shannen Dougherty very busy. Along with her work in “List of a Lifetime,” she stars in the remake of the 1997 film, “Dying to Belong.”

The Lifetime movie tells the story of journalism major Olivia (Favour Onwuka) who meets Riley (Jenika Rose), a shy freshman who suffers from anxiety. They become fast friends.

Riley, whose mother Katherine (Shannen Doherty) was a legacy Pi Gamma Beta, decides to rush in hopes of following Katherine’s footsteps and is ecstatic when Olivia joins her. Sensing the opportunity to go undercover to write a story about hazing practices, Olivia soon discovers there are deadly secrets involved in being part of the sisterhood.

Both Onwuka and Rose were happy that Dougherty was part of the production. Both of the young performers spent a lot of time on the set watching how Dougherty works.

Rose recalls how they found words of acting wisdom when they talked with Dougherty. She discovered all of the advice to be helpful in playing her character.

Being around a veteran like Dougherty was extremely important for Onwuka because she came to the project having mostly done modeling. Her role in “Dying to Belong” is her first lead in a film.

“I was taking notes. I was like ‘Oh, OK, that’s what Shannen’s doing and she looks relaxed. I would be relaxed’,” Onwuka says. “There was one particular time where I came up in between (shots) and I was like ‘How do you do it?’ and you (Dougherty) were like ‘Well, this is what I’ve learned.”

Dougherty’s main coaching was that acting is a process that takes time. It is a process that is cultivated with each job.

That is based on Dougherty’s years of working on her own acting skills. The 50-year-old Dougherty has been in front of cameras for four decades starting “Father Murphy” in 1981. Her other credits include “Little House on the Prairie,” “Beverly Hills, 90210” and “Charmed.”

Now Dougherty can add these two Lifetime movies to her ever-growing resume. 

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