July 18, 2014

Lifetime looks to big winner with 'The Lottery'

LOS ANGELES — Lifetime's new drama "The Lottery" is the latest series to take a look at a dystopian future.

In this case, it's 2025, five years after the last baby was born. In the middle of growing concerns that the human race may be facing an end, Dr. Alison Lennon (Marley Shelton) and her team have created 100 viable embryos. While the government is trying to knock down the unrest over the fertility crisis by establishing a lottery to decide who gets one of the prized embryos, Lennon tries to do the right thing by finding the original donors.

Shelton's character, like so many women of the time period, doesn't have a child of her own. She believes her character is driven by her family history.

"I think what is interesting about Alison, that we set up in the pilot, is that she was adopted. She's an orphan," Shelton says during an interview on the Warner Bros. lot. "This drive to solve this particular issue comes from being abandoned at birth. It really is in her to kind of devote her entire life to solving the fertility crisis. In the process, she is trying to right the wrong of what was done to her."

Shelton finds the character fun to play. In the middle of all of the species-ending turmoil, the doctor is trying to become more in touch with her emotional side, her own humanity, as she bumps up against people when she leaves the sanctity of her lab.

The actress has put together a long — and diverse — résumé. Shelton jokes she's a "closet character actress" considering the wide range of roles she's played. It hasn't been her plan to do a lot of different roles. But she loves both comedy and drama, so she will audition for a lot of different parts. Along with films like "Grand Canyon," "Pleasantville," "Sugar & Spice" and "Planet Terror," she's been on the TV shows "Angel Falls," "Eleventh Hour" and "Mad Men."

"The Lottery" is one of Shelton's favorite roles because the story puts a different spin on the long-debated issue of whether or not women can have it all — work, family, relationships. In this case, women are being told that it's impossible for them to have it all.

If the premise sounds familiar, the cable series is from Timothy J. Sexton, the writer of the 2006 movie "Children of Men." The film looked at a near future where there have been no pregnancies for years. Sexton says this is not a remake of the film but a new approach to a similar theme. The big difference is that this story revolves around the ethics and politics of finding a solution.

Michael Graziadei ("American Horror Story"), David Alpay ("The Vampire Diaries"), Athena Karkanis ("Low Winter Sun"), Yul Vazquez ("Magic City"), Shelley Conn ("Terra Nova") and Martin Donovan ("Homeland") also star in "The Lottery."


"The Lottery": 10 p.m. Sundays on Lifetime.


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