Scripted Series on Tap for ABC Family


Los Angeles -- ABC Family said Wednesday that it is planning to premiere at least one original scripted series this summer to complement its original movies, reality fare and acquired programming.

Speaking at the Television Critics Association tour here, president Paul Lee said the series would be chosen from several dramatic and comedy pilots currently in development, although he would not reveal specifics.

The network's lineup of original movies and acquired off-network fare like Gilmore Girls helped it to post a 29% household ratings increase in 2004 compared with the previous year. Lee believes quality original scripted content could help to drive up ratings even higher.

"We do so well with the scripted [acquired series] on the network now," Lee said. "We now want to get [original scripted] shows out there so that we can really start to put good things in front of people."

Along with scripted content, the network is banking on several new reality shows to draw viewers. In March, the network will launch Las Vegas Garden of Love, a behind-the-scenes look at a family who owns and runs a Las Vegas wedding chapel, according to Lee. Also on the docket for a June launch is Looks of Love, a six-episode series that chronicles the lives of workers at a Los Angeles-area hair salon.

ABC Family sister service SOAPnet will also be active in the reality genre with the sophomore season of its I Wanna Be a Soap Star series, general manager Deborah Blackwell said.

And the network announced that it will air a February marathon of performances from All My Children star Susan Lucci as part of its celebration of the soap opera's 35th anniversary.

In other Disney ABC Cable Networks Group news, Disney Channel will produce original movies around two of its popular animated series, The Proud Family and Kim Possible, to air later this year, Disney Channel executive vice president of original programming and production Gary Marsh said.

Other Disney original-movie titles scheduled to premiere this summer include Life Is Ruff, about a self-centered kid who develops a close relationship with a stray dog, and Go Figure, about a teen-age girl's quest to become a champion figure skater.

Disney will also launch a new original series, The Suite Life of Zack and Cody, featuring the antics of identical twin boys Cole and Dylan Sprouse who live in a swank, upscale hotel.