It may be the ultimate "Lifetime movie," generated by two actresses who certainly know the playing field.
Infidelity, seduction and vengeance are hugely familiar ingredients of the cable channel's films, and they all factor into "A Sister's Revenge," premiering Saturday (April 27). Former "Baywatch" co-star Brooke Burns plays said sister, a smart schemer mourning her late sibling, who had an eventually unhappy romance with a novice restaurateur ( Tim Rozon).
Determined to even the score, she targets the man, insinuating her way into the life of his new-mom wife ( Ashley Jones, also an executive producer of the picture) as one element of her evil plan. A secret recording of an intimate encounter and an unexpectedly lethal pitcher of drinks also let you know you are, indeed, watching a "Lifetime movie." And neither of its female stars tries to deny it.
"In every role, if you can find a strong justification for your character, you're off to a pretty good start," Burns tells Zap2it of turning villain after being the heroine of such Lifetime projects as "Borderline Murder" and "Time and Again." "That drives you through the movie, and especially when you're shooting things out of sequence, it's all married together as far as what your intention is.
"For me, the thread of this character's deep loyalty to her sister was beautiful. In one way, it was easily justified ... yet in her mental instability, her actions are completely wrong. It's one of those things where they say, 'Love is stronger than death." I think that's what she believed, and she wanted this man to pay for what she believed were his responsibilities in her sister's death."
Also reprising the part of Bridget Forrester on the CBS weekday serial "The Bold and the Beautiful," Jones has produced other Lifetime movies she's starred in ( "Secrets From Her Past," "Dead at 17"). She confirms there was early talk of her playing the perpetrator in "A Sister's Revenge," but she finally chose to portray the potential victim instead.
"Brooke and I clicked immediately, off-set as well, so we were looking forward to the moments that we had together on-set," Jones says. "Most of the time, we had completely opposite schedules, but it was a very fine line [to play in shared scenes]. I didn't want the audience to think I was too stupid. I wanted to keep the character old-style, but I also wanted it known that she wasn't missing a beat."
Jones has a clear read on what's expected when she works for Lifetime as both actress and producer. "People who watch stuff like this really eat it up," she reasons. "They know what they're getting. They love the suspense, and they give that suspension of disbelief. They just go along with it.
"Maybe I'm having a girls' night at home, or maybe I just want to plop down and order food and watch TV. You're in a certain mood, and it goes with the territory. And that is one thing that makes me really excited and happy to do these kinds of movies. You almost do it with a wink."
Which was how Burns took the script for "A Sister's Revenge" when she first read it, since every time it seems her alter ego has done the most heinous thing possible, she tops it. "They definitely gave me a lot to do," she muses. "She decided this guy needed to pay, but her own darkness took it to such an extreme, all reality was lost. It was never enough for her.
"She would take one thing from him and think, 'You know what? I don't feel good yet. Let's do something else.' And that wasn't enough, either. Nothing could relieve her of her pain, and that's kind of the point: Nothing can."
Given that undertone to the story, Jones -- a "True Blood" alum who also has appeared on The CW's "90210" in its current home stretch -- maintains, "I feel like my job as an actor, and as someone who loves this genre, is to go in and make it not so cliched. And to make it as smart as possible."
And as a producer, Jones realizes such movies have the potential to play virtually forever, as long as Lifetime and Lifetime Movie Network exist.
"We have a contract that they run a certain number of times while Lifetime owns them, then the rights fall back into our hands and they're sold internationally. They just don't die. You want to do your best work, because they don't go away."
Photo/Video credit: Lifetime