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A scandal hasn’t hit its pinnacle in mainstream media until there’s been a made-for-TV movie produced about it, and the Flint water crisis will be the latest real-world incident to get the television movie treatment. Lifetime will be the network to bring the original small screen feature entitled Flint to shed some light on the problems facing the citizens of Flint, Michigan.

The story of the Flint water crisis gained national attention thanks to a Time magazine cover story by journalist Josh Sanburn in early 2016. He revealed that city officials in the Michigan town of Flint changed the water source to the Flint River from Lake Huron for budget reasons. The pollution of the river worked to corrode old pipes, which then began infusing drinking water with dangerous lead, among other things. The water troubles began in 2014 and continue to this day. It’s a tragic story, and one perfect for Lifetime to adapt for an original movie.

Flint is being developed by producers Craig Zadan and Neil Meron, according to THR. The duo has collaborated on primetime musical extravaganzas The Wiz and The Sound of Music, and will be bringing Hairspray to NBC as the next live musical. All in all, Flint is likely to be a big departure from their major TV works to date. It’s no surprise that Lifetime would trust the duo with this project based on their success with the Steel Magnolias remake for the network in 2012.

Craig Zadan and Neil Meron have secured the aforementioned Josh Sanburn as a consultant on the film, so they should have a solid source for accurate information about the goings-on in Flint. Writer Barbara Stepansky of the indie film circuit will be on board to pen the teleplay. No director is yet attached, so we could still be a ways off from any casting news.

The expediency with which Lifetime is producing Flint is somewhat curious. It does make sense for the network to capitalize on the buzz surrounding the water crisis, but the case is still very much unfolding. Unless Lifetime wants to significantly depart from the real story and give a happily-ever-after, the movie is bound to have a very open end.

Flint is certainly not going to be the network’s first ripped-from-the-headlines story, but it is happening awfully fast even by Lifetime standards. Films like Prosecuting Casey Anthony, based on the Casey Anthony court case, and Cleveland Abduction, based on the kidnappings of Cleveland women, felt like they happened dubiously quickly, and those both had a couple of years between the press circus and the Lifetime release. Only time will tell if allowing mere months between the crisis hitting the media and the original movie entering production was too soon or just right.

There’s no date set for when we might be seeing Lifetime’s presentation of the Flint water crisis. In the meantime, check out our schedule of summer premiere dates to see when you can expect some of your favorite shows to return. 

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April 12, 2016
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