NEW YORK — The fate of a Lifetime TV movie featuring Will Ferrell and Kristen Wiig remained unclear on Friday after the project’s planned secrecy was spoiled.
The former “Saturday Night Live” stars made the ominously titled “A Deadly Adoption,” playing a couple who befriend a pregnant woman in hopes of adopting her child. Lifetime’s movies, frequently melodramas about life and love that appeal to the network’s primarily female audience, are a genre onto themselves and often ripe for parody.
“We are disappointed that our secret project with Will and Kristen was leaked and the network is determining the fate of the movie,” said Michael Feeney, spokesman for Lifetime’s corporate parent, A&E Networks, on Friday.
A spokesman for the actors’ talent agency had no immediate comment on Lifetime’s plans.
After word of the project got out, Ferrell issued a statement that he and Wiig had decided it was “in the best interest for everyone to forego the project entirely.” Lifetime had said the movie was due to air this summer.
Ferrell’s statement may be an empty threat: Stars generally don’t have the ability to kill an already-filmed project, except in the unusual circumstance where they fully financed the production, said Jonathan Handel, an entertainment attorney for the Hollywood firm TroyGould. Even then, they could face a breach of contract lawsuit if the film had already been leased to a television network.
In most cases, television movies are financed jointly by a production company and the network itself, Handel said.
It has been a tumultuous professional week for Ferrell, whose “Get Hard” movie with Kevin Hart is currently in theaters. On Tuesday, Ferrell’s agent Jason Heyman was part of a high-profile group of agents who defected from the Creative Artists Agency to another group, the United Talent Agency. Ferrell stuck with Heyman, switching his representation to UTA. A day later, the Hollywood Reporter wrote an anonymously sourced story about the Lifetime movie, “A Deadly Adoption,” previously a closely guarded secret.
It’s not known how long Lifetime and the stars planned to keep the secret. Typically, a cable network that lands two big Hollywood stars for a project gives potential viewers at least some advanced warning that it is coming.
If Ferrell and Wiig legitimately want to shelve “A Deadly Adoption,” it means months spent writing a screenplay, acting the scenes and editing the movie would go to waste.
Ferrell and Wiig appeared together in the big-screen movie “Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues,” playing it strictly for laughs.