12:00pm PT by Philiana Ng
ABC Family Orders Hidden-Camera Prank Series 'Freak Out'
ABC Family is trying the hidden-camera genre.
The cable network has greenlighted Freak Out, a hidden-camera prank show from Jersey Shore producer SallyAnn Salsano, The Hollywood Reporter has learned.
ABC Family has picked up the half-hour series for 14 episodes for a premiere this fall during its annual "13 Nights of Halloween" programming event.
As the network continues to expand its presence on the scripted side, Freak Out marks the first unscripted pickup following Tom Ascheim's appointment as president in late 2013. Though ABC Family has rolled out several unscripted series in recent years, many have failed to last beyond one season. The latest pickup signals the network's continued efforts to do so.
“I’m glad to get reality back on our schedule and to continue to grow our original programming,” said Ascheim. “Scary can be funny, and this series is sure to deliver the ‘sclaughing’ -- the screaming and the laughing. We’re also excited to be working with 495 Productions, a company with a proven track record for delivering hugely entertaining reality series.”
In each episode of Freak Out, an unsuspecting mark, whose fears come to life before their eyes with elaborate special effects, intricate makeup, twisted actors and multiple cameras capturing the scenario from every angle. Every prank is deviously tailored with help from the victim's friends and family to turn an everyday situation into someone's scary moment, until they realize they've been pranked.
Salsano produces through 495 Productions.
Freak Out's pickup comes on the heels of recent similar hidden-camera formats gaining traction at cable and broadcast networks. TV Land has the Candid Camera reboot, TBS has Who Gets the Last Laugh, hosted by Donald Faison, MTV revived Ashton Kutcher's Punk'd, Vivica A. Fox will host Lifetime's Prank My Mom and TruTV has Impractical Jokers, among others. Lifetime also had Betty White's Off Their Rockers.