The season finale of the new ABC Family series Chasing Life — about a 24-year-old aspiring journalist facing leukemia — will focus on April (Italia Ricci)’s “7 days in chemo and all that goes with that,” executive producer Patrick Sean Smith revealed at today’s TCA. Smith appeared on today’s panel with fellow EPs Joni Lefkowitz and Susanna Fogel and cast members Ricci, Haley Ramm, Steven Weber and Mary Page Keller.
The 6th episode of the first-season drama (which made its debut June 10) airs tonight. Smith said that production has completed on episode 21. The producer noted that the series is different from most fictional stories about cancer because it does not start with treatment but rather the many emotions and decisions facing the character leading up to treatment.
Read More »
Salaam Coleman Smith has been named EVP strategy and programming at ABC Family, the network’s president Tom Ascheim announced this morning at Summer TV Press Tour 2014. “You may know her best from her work at Style or E!,” he said, calling her hire a “key part of building our future. She’s a great exec and an even greater person.” Smith’s hire seems to confirm sources’ reports ABC Family is looking to make a bigger push into the unscripted genre. Meanwhile, Ascheim said, “I am actively looking for Kate Juergens’ replacement.”
Kate Juergens, the executive behind ABC Family‘s defining original programming including Pretty Little Liars, The Secret Life Of The American Teenager, Switched At Birth and The Fosters, last week exited her post as Chief Creative Officer and EVP Original Content. The move was announced last week via a staff memo from Ascheim. He said her departure will result in a restructuring at the Disney cable network that includes the exit of SVP Acquisitions and Scheduling Lynn Stepanian, the odd person out in a new plan to combine Business Strategy, Planning & Development and Scheduling & Acquisitions under one roof and one leader. Both Juergens and Stepanian departed last week.
Read More »
Kate Juergens, the executive behind ABC Family‘s defining original programming including Pretty Little Liars, The Secret Life Of The American Teenager, Switched At Birth and The Fosters, is exiting her post as Chief Creative Officer and EVP Original Content. The move was announced today via a staff memo from ABC Family President Tom Ascheim (read it below). He said her departure will result in a restructuring at the Disney cable network that includes the exit of SVP Acquisitions and Scheduling Lynn Stepanian, the odd person out in a new plan to combine Business Strategy, Planning & Development and Scheduling & Acquisitions under one roof and one leader. Both Juergens and Stepanian are departing later this week, and a search is underway for the new position.
Related: Tom Ascheim Named ABC Family President
Juergens was Michael Riley’s No. 2 until his departure in September as ABC Family president. She was tipped to be a front-runner for the top job, much as she was in the mix as the top development executive when Paul Lee left as network president in 2010 — she did not make a play for the post then. Ascheim, a former Nickelodeon GM and CEO of Newsweek, eventually was hired in December after a search led by Anne Sweeney, then co-chair of Disney Media Networks and president of Disney/ABC Television Group (Sweeney reportedly searched for an executive with a strong business background).
Related: Anne Sweeney’s Legacy: Her Hits, Misses & Contribution To Breaking The Glass Ceiling
Juergens said in her own memo to staff today that she began discussions about leaving the network “several months ago.” Ascheim asked her to stay through pilot season, which originally included pickups for three drama pilots; one, Alice In Arabia, about an American teenage girl kidnapped by her extended royal Saudi Arabian family and forced to live with them, was pulled four days after it was announced amid pressure from a Muslim advocacy group.
Stepanian was hired by Riley for her current post in June 2012 from TV Guide Network. In her role she was responsible for off-network series and feature acquisitions as well as overseeing the strategic scheduling of all on-air linear content and longform video.
Here’s Ascheim’s memo, followed by one from Juergens: Read More »
How about this for an unexpected hot Hollywood trend: projects about young people afflicted – often terminally – with cancer. ABC Family’s new drama series Chasing Life – about a 24-year-old aspiring journalist who finds out she has leukemia – debuted on June 10. Only two days earlier, cancer teen romance The Fault In Our Stars became one of the sleeper hits of the summer, trouncing Tom Cruise’s big-budget sci-fi thriller Edge Of Tomorrow at the weekend box office. And coming this fall is Fox’s Red Band Society, a drama series about teens with serious illnesses, including cancer, living in a hospital. Given what a sensitive topic cancer is and how tough a sell it is commercially, it is pretty hard for any such project to see green light, so for three to get to the screen at the same time is pretty remarkable.
Neither Chasing Life nor Red Band had an easy road to the small screen. Both took years and went through two incarnations with different writers. Red Band also switched networks, from ABC to Fox. Both were based on formats – the successful Televisa Spanish-language Mexican series Terminales (Chasing Life) and acclaimed Spanish series Polseres Vermelles (Red Band). Not to take away from the U.S. producers who embraced the formats and the network executives who put the adaptations on the air, but it was foreign creators who broke the stigma and defied convention by believing that … Read More »
ABC Family has ordered Freak Out, a 14-episode alternative series from Jersey Shore executive producer SallyAnn Salsano. The half-hour hidden-camera prank show will premiere this fall during the network’s annual 13 Nights of Halloween. Each episode of Freak Out will feature an unsuspecting mark whose fears come to life with elaborate special effects, intricate makeup, twisted actors and multiple cameras.
Ahead of Pretty Little Liars‘ fifth-season premiere tonight, ABC Family‘s flagship drama has received the network’s first ever multi-season pickup. The soapy mystery has been renewed for a sixth season, to air in mid-2015, and for a seventh season, to air in mid-2016.
Pretty Little Liars, from Warner Horizon and Alloy Entertainment, is ABC Family’s No. 1 series ever in total viewers (3.8 million) and all target demos: adults 18-34 (1.5 million/2.2 rating), women 18-34 (1.3 million/3.7 rating), adults 18-49 (2.0 million/1.6 rating), women 18-49 (1.7 million/2.7 rating), people 12-34 (2.6 million/2.8 rating) and females 12-34 (2.3 million/4.9 rating). PLL is the top cable series in females 12-34. It also holds the record as the most-tweeted scripted series telecast of all time, it has generated the highest average number of tweets per episode (675,000) of any TV series during the 2013-2014 broadcast season, and has the most Instagram followers of all scripted TV series. “Pretty Little Liars has taken its place in the zeitgeist and reigns supreme in pop culture,” said ABC Family president Tom Ascheim. Read More »
Spanish actor Felix Gomez has landed a series regular role on ABC Family drama pilot Stitchers. Written by Jeffrey A. Schechter (Overruled), Stitchers follows a young woman recruited into a covert government agency to be “stitched” into the minds of the recently deceased, using their memories to investigate murders and decipher mysteries that otherwise would have gone to the grave. Gomez, repped by SDB Partners and Symington Talent Management, will play college professor Dr. Jerome Smallwood, who teaches a grad course in computer science, in which Kirsten and her roommate, Camille, are students. Smallwood is smart and good at his job, but he’s no match for Kirsten, who can out-hack him and out-think him.
Read More »
Kyla Pratt (Dr. Doolittle) and Justin Prentice (Malibu Country) have been cast as series regulars opposite Samantha Logan on ABC Family’s drama pilot Recovery Road, based on Blake Nelson’s novel about a teenage girl dealing with addiction. Written by Bert V. Royal and Karen DiConcetto, the project centers on Maddie Graham (Logan) who has a reputation as a party girl and doesn’t think she has a problem, until she’s confronted by her school guidance counselor and forced to choose between expulsion and rehab. Maddie opts to spend her nights living with other recovering addicts at a rehab facility, and her days pretending everything is perfectly normal among her high school classmates and her closest friend. Read More »
EXCLUSIVE: Samantha Logan, who has been recurring on ABC Family series Melissa & Joey, has been cast as the lead of the network’s drama pilot Recovery Road, based on Blake Nelson’s novel about a teenage girl dealing with addiction. Written by Bert V. Royal and Karen DiConcetto, the project centers on Maddie Graham (Logan). She has a reputation as a party girl who doesn’t think she has a problem, until she’s confronted by her school guidance counselor and forced to choose between expulsion and rehab. Maddie opts to spend her nights living with other recovering addicts at a rehab facility, and her days pretending everything is perfectly normal among her high school classmates and her closest friends. Larry Trilling is directing the pilot, which is executive produced by Beth Miller, Craig Piligian and Danielle Von Zerneck. 666 Park Ave alumna Logan, repped by Innovative Artists, recently wrapped Disney’s Alexander And The Terrible. Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day.
2014 ABC Family Pilots
Alex Roe Set To Star In ABC Family Drama Pilot ‘Unstrung’; Jay Karas To Direct
ABC Family has the male lead for its tennis-themed drama pilot, which Jay Karas has come on board to direct. English actor Alex Roe’s first stateside role will be as a once-in-a-generation phenom in Unstrung, which is set on the pro tennis tour where brother and sister Luke (Roe) and Ellie Holt (Chanel Celaya) compete to move up the ranks. The Holts seem to have it all, but when Luke discovers that his well-meaning but controlling father and coach has kept a potentially life-altering secret from him, Luke’s world is upended. Roe’s credits include the UK series The Cut and The Fugitives. He is repped by WME, Luber Roklin Entertainment and P.J. Shapiro. Karas’ credits include Parks And Recreation, Awkward and Chelsea Handler’s After Lately. His feature film debut, Break Point, premiered at SXSW. Karas is repped by Gersh, New Wave and Hansen, Jacobson.
Related: 2014 ABC Family Pilots
Marcella Plunkett (Dark Touch) has been booked as a recurring on FX‘s How And Why, from Oscar-winning screenwriter Charlie Kaufman (Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind, Being John Malkovich). It tells the story of Goodman Hesselman (John Hawkes), who can explain how and why a nuclear reactor works but is clueless about life. After losing his gig hosting children’s science show How And Why, he tries to start over with a new show in a little TV market in the middle of nowhere when he encounters the supernatural world. We hear Plunkett is playing two roles, Cynthia, a photographer at Goodman’s new TV station in Murfreesboro, and Magda, Mendelson’s (Michael Cera) secretary, whose day is spent in a cramped, tiny room, not much bigger than her desk. Plunkett is with Radius Entertainment and Lisa Richards Agency in Ireland.
Read More »
ABC Family has handed out a pilot order to drama Stitchers. Written by Jeffrey A. Schechter (Overruled), Stitchers follows a young woman recruited into a covert government agency to be “stitched” into the minds of the recently deceased, using their memories to investigate murders and decipher mysteries that otherwise would have gone to the grave. Schechter executive produces alongside Jonathan Baruch and Rob Wolken. Production is slated to begin in June. ABC Family got a vacancy on its drama pilot slate when the network pulled the plug on Saudi Arabia-set Alice In Arabia four days after greenlighting it to pilot after pressure from a Muslim advocacy group. Stitchers joins two other recently picked up ABC Family drama pilots: Recovery Road, based on Blake Nelson’s novel about a teenage girl dealing with addiction, and Unstrung, about a brother-sister tennis player duo. Schechteris with Resolution.
Four days after giving a pilot greenlight to drama Alice In Arabia, ABC Family is pulling the plug on the project about an American teenage girl kidnapped by her extended royal Saudi Arabian family and forced to live with them. “The current conversation surrounding our pilot was not what we had envisioned and is certainly not conducive to the creative process, so we’ve decided not to move forward with this project,” the network said in a statement. The project was met with disapproval by Muslim advocacy group the Council on American-Islamic Relations, which called on ABC Family to meet with Muslim and Arab-American community leaders so they can voice their concerns about potential stereotyping. “We are concerned that, given media references to the main character ‘surviving life behind the veil,’ the pilot and any resulting series may engage in stereotyping that can lead to things like bullying of Muslim students,” CAIR-LA Executive Director Hussam Ayloush said Wednesday. In a letter to ABC Family President Tom Ascheim, CAIR-LA wrote, “As the nation’s largest Muslim civil rights and advocacy organization, we are concerned about the negative impact this program could have on the lives of ordinary Arab-American and American Muslims.”
Related: 2014 ABC Family Pilots
Read More »
The spring finale of ABC Family‘s Pretty Little Liars became the most tweeted telecast of 2014 and the No. 4 most tweeted series telecast in TV history, with nearly 1.5 million tweets by nearly 411,000 unique contributors, peaking at a max rate of 37,000 tweets per minute. For comparison sake, the recent season debut of AMC’s The Walking Dead logged 1.24 million tweets. Pretty Little Liars now accounts for the six most tweeted TV series telecasts on record – nine original episodes accrued more than 1 million tweets, including its summer 2013 season finale, which remains the most tweeted telecast in TV history.
Nielsen TV ratings-wise, the 8 PM spring finale was cable’s No. 1 ranked telecast in the hour with 12-34-year-old females, and, with an average overall crowd of 3.1 million viewers, just missed a season high in 2+.
UPDATED: In one of ABC Family‘s first major greenlight/renewal decisions under new president Tom Ascheim, the network has picked up three drama pilots: Alice In Arabia, about an American teenage girl kidnapped by her extended royal Saudi Arabian family and forced to live with them; Recovery Road, based on Blake Nelson’s novel about a teenage girl dealing with addiction; and Unstrung, about a brother-sister duo of tennis players. Additionally, the network has ordered a fourth season of comedy Baby Daddy and announced today a fourth-season renewal of fellow comedy Melissa & Joey, though that 20-episode pickup was originally unveiled in May.
Related: 2014 ABC Family Pilots
Alice In Arabia comes from a novice TV writer, Brooke Eikmeier, who wrote the script while serving as cryptologic linguist in the Arabic language to the US Army stationed at Fort Carson, CO, where she supported NSA missions in the Middle East. ABC Family also has bought a second script from Eikmeier, who left service in September with a rank E-4 Specialist. It is about female cultural specialists embedded with Special Forces teams to help them navigate cultural issues with the local population. “These three powerful new dramas are a great fit with ABC Family’s brand of original programming,” said Ascheim. Added Kate Juergens, Chief Creative Officer and EVP Original Content at ABC Family. “Innovative and authentic is the promise we make to our audience. These new projects deliver on that promise with emotional and entertaining storylines, intriguing, multi-faceted characters and complex relationships.” Last season ABC Family also ordered three drama pilots, The Fosters, Twisted and Chasing Live, all of which went to series. Here are detailed descriptions and credits for ABC Family’s newly picked up drama pilots: Read More »
ABC Family announced the summer premieres of three new original series. Three nights of original programming will include new drama Chasing Life and comedies Young & Hungry, starring Emily Osment, and Mystery Girls, starring and executive produced by Tori Spelling and Jennie Garth. Pretty Little Liars, Switched At Birth and The Fosters also return in June with new episodes.
Chasing Life premieres Tuesday, June 10 at 9 PM ET/PT. The new one-hour drama follows April (Italia Ricci), an aspiring journalist who tries to balance her career with her family. Young & Hungry, executive produced by Ashley Tisdale (High School Musical), premieres Wednesday, June 25 at 8 PM ET/PT. Two worlds collide when Josh (Jonathan Sadowski), a wealthy young tech entrepreneur, meets Gabi ( Osment), a feisty young food blogger, looking to be his personal chef. Mystery Girls premieres Wednesday, June 25 at 8:30 ET/PT. The comedy follows two former detective TV show starlets brought back together by a real-life mystery.
Read More »
I’ve learned that ABC Family has opted not to renew the Pretty Little Liars spinoff series Ravenswood for a second season. The project received a straight-to-series order from the previous ABC Family regime and had a solid launch behind the Pretty little Liars’ Halloween special in October with 2.1 million viewers. But, with no PLL lead-in, the series lost momentum, dropping to a 1.1 million for its fall finale. By the time it was paired again with PLL in January, Ravenswood couldn’t regain its ratings footing, opening its January mini-season with 1.7 million viewers, half of the 3.2 million viewers for its lead-in, PLL. Set in the fictional town of Ravenswood, Pennsylvania, Ravenswood followed five strangers whose lives become intertwined by a deadly curse. Nicole Gale Anderson, Tyler Blackburn, Steven Cabral, Brett Dier, Britne Oldford and Merritt Patterson starred. This marks the first cancellation decision for ABC Family under new president Tom Ascheim, who took over in December.
Related: TCA: New ABC Family Boss Knows His Demo
EXCLUSIVE: ABC Family star Avan Jogia is keeping busy as the network’s teen mystery-drama Twisted concludes its first season this month. The former Nickelodeon star (Victorious) has joined the cast of Ten Thousand Saints opposite Hailee Steinfeld and Asa Butterfield. American Spendor duo Shari Springer Berman and Robert Pulcini are directing the adaptation of Eleanor Henderson’s 2011 novel in which Jogia will play Teddy, who knocks up Eliza (Steinfeld) and overdoses, sending his best friend Jude (Butterfield) into the straight-edge hardcore punk scene of 1980s New York City. Anne Carey, Celine Rattray and Trudie Styler are producing the pic which is now filming in NYC.
Related: Hailee Steinfeld In Talks For Straight Edge Punk Adaptation ‘Ten Thousand Saints’
Jogia’s also in talks for a role in Painstaking Pictures, Haven Entertainment, Bona Fide, and Anonymous Content’s 1970s-set Shangri-La Suite opposite Emily Browning and Luke Grimes. Pic is directed by first timer Eddie O’Keefe from his script with Chris Hutton and follows two young lovers who meet in a mental hospital. The Bonnie & Clyde-esque pair set out to fulfill what one believes is his destiny – to kill Elvis Presley. Read More »