Pretty Little Liars was back for its fourth season last night with 2.972 million viewers watching. That’s up slightly from the 2.93 million total viewers the ABC Family flagship drama garnered in its Season 3 debut on June 5, 2012. However in key demos the 8 PM Season 4 premiere saw significant gains over last summer’s debut. Last night’s episode was up 31% among Adults 18-34 to 1.28 million over the Season 3 premiere for its best summer opener ever. The show was also up 15% among Adults 18-49 to 1.62 million and rose 11% in Viewers 12-34 to 2.11 million. In total viewers, PLL was the No. 1 scripted drama on cable on Tuesday. Unlike last night, that Season 3 premiere wasn’t up against an NBA Finals game but it did face basketball as the Miami Heat took on the Boston Celtics in Game 5 of the Eastern Conference. Tuesday’s Season 4 premiere of the teen thriller series, which featured computer hacking, a funeral and a body in a car trunk, was down from the 3.210 million viewers who watched the Season 3 winter return on January 8, 2013.
EXCLUSIVE UPDATED: ABC Family is banking on Melissa & Joey. Ahead of the series’ Season 3 premiere tomorrow, I’ve learned that the network has given the comedy starring Melissa Joan Hart and Joey Lawrence a back order for 20 more episodes. Additionally, ABC Family has ordered a 20-episode fourth season, making Melissa & Joey the network’s first comedy to reach 100 episodes. The additional Season 3 episodes will air in 2014. “One hundred episodes is a great accomplishment for any series and we are thrilled to give Melissa And Joey the opportunity to achieve this milestone, as they’ve delivered hundreds and hundreds of laughs over the seasons,” said Kate Juergens, EVP Programming and Development and Chief Creative Officer, ABC Family.
ABC Family has picked up to series Spell-Mageddon, an hour-long game show where contestants take on hilarious distractions while spelling increasingly challenging words. The series, created and executive produced by Adam Reed, Adam Freeman and Leslie Greif of Thinkfactory Media (Hatfields & McCoys), will premiere on July 24, …
ABC and ABC Family discovered today that they must face the courts over whether they stole the idea for a 2011 Christmas movie from two veteran producers. A LA Superior Court judge today rejected an effort by the two companies and other defendants to legally eviscerate the complaint Beth Grossbard and Barri Rosenblum filed in January claiming their I Hate Christmas idea was lifted for the ABC Family movie 12 Dates Of Christmas. Judge Ruth Ann Kwan ruled against most of the demurrer (read it here) the defense introduced in late February. Kwan ordered that the claims of breach of confidence and accounting could stand from the initial complaint, but she did instruct Grossbard and Rosenblum’s lawyers to amend their breach of contract suit in regard to the claim of constructive trust. Once that is done, the process of discovery will begin in the case — which means it is still a ways off from reaching a jury as the plaintiffs’ have requested.
As I reported in January, the two seasoned producers say that they and I Hate Christmas writer Denise Gruska met with then-ABC Family Director of Development Beth Miller and ABC Family VP Original Programming Donna Ebbs on December 13, 2005, at the company’s Burbank offices in a pitch meeting for their TV movie. Though everyone supposedly made nice, their idea eventually wasn’t picked up. However, when they saw 12 Dates Of Christmas in December 2011 on ABC Family, the duo felt there had been a “brazen theft,” as their complaint states, of many elements of their movie. Besides the plot and other similarities, what also fueled the producers’ outrage was that 12 Dates Of Christmas was executive produced by Miller, who had left ABC since the 2005 meeting. Disney was a defendant in the original complaint but has since been dismissed from the case with prejudice.
After lengthy deal-making process, ABC Family has given a series order to drama Chasing Life (formerly Terminales) for a launch in early 2014. Chasing Life, which I hear has received a 13-episode pickup, joins new ABC Family drama series The Fosters and Twisted, meaning all three ABC Family pilots from the most recent cycle went to series. (The network passed on its comedy pilots, Phys Ed and Continuing Fred.)
Chasing Life is an adaptation of the successful Televisa Spanish-language Mexican television series. The pilot was produced by Lionsgate in association with Televisa. As part of the series pickup, ABC Family and its in-house production arm BV Family Prods have come on board as co-producers. Kapital Entertainment’s Aaron Kaplan (The Neighbors), who has shepherded the project for the past two years, is executive producing alongside writers Susanna Fogel and Joni Lefkowitz, who joined last year and whose script was greenlighted to pilot. Chasing Life stars Italia Ricci as April, an ambitious young newspaper reporter who tries to balance her career aspirations with her family — her widowed mom Sara (Mary Page Keller), rebellious little sister Brenna (Haley Ramm), and her grandmother. Just as things start to look up at work, home and on the romance front with co-worker Dominic (Richard Brancatisano), April gets the devastating news from an estranged uncle that she has cancer.
ABC Family is launching four new series this summer — family drama The Fosters, mystery drama Twisted, reality competition series Dancing Fools and docu-soap The Vineyard. That is up from three last summer, when the network introduced drama Bunheads and comedy Baby Daddy, both renewed for second season, and docuseries Beverly Hills Nannies, which was not. Like last summer, ABC Family will have three nights of original programming (Monday-Wednesday). They will feature new episodes of eight original series including returning Pretty Little Liars, Switched At Birth, Baby Daddy and Melissa & Joey. Here is a list of the network’s summer premiere dates:
NEW YORK — March 5, 2013 — ABC, ABC Family and ESPN have adopted Nielsen Online Campaign Ratings to manage demographic guarantees for online video campaigns. Each network is using Nielsen Online Campaign Ratings audience composition data in conjunction with total delivered impression counts from ad servers to calculate viewer demographics.
ABC Family has ordered two reality series: Dancing Fools, which will be hosted by Melissa Peterman, star of the network’s hit comedy series Baby Daddy, and docu-soap The Vineyard (working title). Production on both series will begin this spring. ABC Family’s most recent unscripted effort, series Beverly Hills Nannies, aired last summer. It did not go to a second season.
Dancing Fools is a half-hour unscripted comedy created and executive produced by Phil Gurin (The Singing Bee, Oh Sit) and produced by the Gurin Co. ABC Family is keeping details about the premise under wraps, but judging by Gurin’s track record of turning karaoke and musical chairs into reality series, this may again be a take on a party game. In addition to Dancing Fools, Peterman also is hosting the upcoming ABC reality series Bet On Your Baby. The Vineyard is a dramatic coming-of-age docu-soap, which follows a handful of twentysomethings in Martha’s Vineyard for the summer.
ABC Family has picked up to series two of its three drama pilots — The Fosters, executive produced by Jennifer Lopez, and Socio, which has been renamed Twisted. Filming on both, which are produced in-house, will begin in the spring for a summer debut. “These new shows will bring the same depth, heart, close relationships and authenticity that our viewers have come to expect and will pair nicely with our already established pop culture hits,” ABC Family president Michael Riley said. I hear the network’s third drama pilot, Terminales, is still very much in contention and appears likely to get a series order contingent on some deal-making. As for ABC Family’s two comedy pilots, Miseducation aka Phys Ed and Continuing Fred, I hear neither is going forward.
Two producers today sued the Walt Disney Company claiming the company lifted their idea for a Christmas movie. “The ABC television movie, The 12 Dates Of Christmas, is nothing more than a hijacking of the Idea which was originally pitched by Plaintiffs to Defendants and the treatment which was given to ABC executives by the Plaintiffs, cloned and re-written in a crude attempt to conceal the brazen theft of the Idea,” alleges the Breach of Contract suit (read it here). Beth Grossbard and Barri Rosenblum, who goes by the professional name Barri Evins, are seeking unspecified compensatory and punitive damages from Disney, ABC, ABC Family and former ABC executive Beth Miller. In the complaint filed in LA Superior Court Monday, the duo allege that they and writer Denise Gruska met with then ABC Family Director of Development Miller and ABC Family VP of Original Programming Donna Ebbs on December 13, 2005 at ABC’s Burbank offices in a pitch meeting for their I Hate Christmas idea. It was from that meeting the Plaintiffs say that the idea for Miller-produced 2011 ABC Family movie The 12 Dates Of Christmas was hatched at their expense. In their four count complaint, including breach of confidence and breach of implied-in-fact contract, the duo have requested a four-day jury trial.
Ray Richmond is contributing to Deadline’s TCA coverage.
One of the better kept secrets in cable television is the fact that ABC Family‘s Pretty Little Liars remains something of a phenomenon. Besides being the network’s top-rated series of all time in key demos, it also ranked as cable TV’s top-ranked series of last summer. It’s been renewed for a fourth season that’s skedded to start airing next summer. And during a TCA panel this morning, it came up that one of the reasons for PLL‘s continued audience strength is its pioneering use of social media, generating a major boost from Twitter and Facebook in particular. Exec producer and co-showrunner I. Marlene King noted, “We work very closely with (ABC’s digital and online team). They’ve been amazingly supportive, and we partner on ideas and social media programs with them all the time.” Exec producer Oliver Goldstick concurs. “It almost takes us back to old-time television where we all watch at the same time, because they’re not just DVR-ing and watching it later. There’s an aspect of this that’s truly old fashioned, as cutting edge as it is, because people are experiencing it simultaneously.”