HUMANITAS Trustee Bill Lawrence Executive Produces 'Life Sentence' A Seriocomic Series About Life After Cancer

In resuming series work after Pretty Little Liars, Lucy Hale plays someone who gets what is arguably the ultimate reprieve.

Premiering Wednesday, March 7, the serio-comic CW show "Life Sentence" casts her as cancer patient Stella ... who suddenly learns she's cured, putting a very different spin on decisions she made and situations she experienced when she thought she had only a limited amount of time left. She also discovers secrets her loved ones had kept from her, such as the marital discord between her parents (Dylan Walsh, Gillian Vigman), her sister's (Hale look-alike Brooke Lyons) self-sacrifice and her brother's (Jayson Blair) drug dealing. Elliot Knight and Carlos PenaVega also star.

"I, luckily, have not been personally affected by cancer," Hale says, "but I'm from Memphis, and I visited St. Jude (Children's Research Hospital) multiple times. I've visited Children's Hospital of Los Angeles, and what I noticed in all the patients and the families is that they're given one of the worst possible scenarios you could be given, but their positivity is what remained with me.

"I was just blown away by everyone, that they're making the best of an awful situation. I think anyone who has met someone who has been diagnosed with cancer can say that (someone who has it is) more positive than someone that doesn't have it, so I think that that's what we are trying to show."

Series creators Erin Cardillo and Richard Keith -- who previously made the comedy Significant Mother for The CW -- are executive producers of Life Sentence along with Pretty Little Liars alum Oliver Goldstick and Bill Lawrence, a television-comedy veteran of such shows as Scrubs and Spin City.

"The thing that is interesting to me in television is taking chances," Lawrence notes. "I can't tell you how many people I sat in front of when I handed Scrubs in that said, 'The amount of comedy and silliness you're doing with these people living and dying is not going to work.' And I believe this is where you take chances.

"I would tell you," adds Lawrence, "that after the opening show, we are really policing ourselves to say we're trying to do an optimistic family show that has real-life ramifications for the family members that went through an ordeal like this, which we find to be a universal theme. Anytime you get a huge nuclear family together, more often than not, they've had to team up and fight against something. I don't want to say it's always horrifying, and I don't want to say it always ends optimistically, but we made a conscious choice to not want to tell that story."


Abigail Boland