'Once Upon a Time' Creators Land Summer Camp Horror Anthology Series at ABC Family

'Dead of Summer' hails from 'OUAT's' Ian Goldberg, Adam Horowitz and Eddy Kitsis.
Christopher Patey
Adam Horowitz and Eddy Kitsis

ABC Family — soon to become Freeform — is looking for a little Once Upon a Time Magic.

The Disney-owned network is teaming with the creators of ABC's fantasy drama for anthology Dead of Summer, the cabler's first horror series.

The drama, which has been picked up straight to series based on multiple script commitments, will be written by OUAT's Adam Horowitz, Eddy Kitsis and Ian Goldberg, the latter of whom will reunite with the showrunners for ABC Family's first-ever horror series. The drama, created by Kitsis and Horowitz who brought Goldberg in to help, hails from ABC Signature Studios, ABC Studios' low-cost, cable-focused arm. 

"Dead of Summer is about what happens when summer camp goes wrong – really, really wrong," ABC Family exec vp programming Karey Burke said in a statement announcing the news Wednesday. "The horror genre is new for us and I’m thrilled to have Adam, Eddy and Ian bring their immeasurable talent to our network and usher us into this new space."

Here's how ABC Family describes the series: "Set in the late 1980s, school is out for the summer and a sun-drenched season of firsts beckons the counselors at Camp Clearwater, a seemingly idyllic Midwestern summer camp, including first loves, first kisses  and first kills. Clearwater’s dark, ancient mythology awakens, and what was supposed to be a summer of fun soon turns into one of unforgettable scares and evil at every turn. Part coming-of-age story, part supernatural horror story, Dead of Summer is a bold, new series that mixes genres as it examines the light and dark of a summer like no other."

Dead of Summer becomes the latest of its kind to get a grenlight. Syfy on Wednesday picked up two seasons of anthology Channel Zero; FX has American Horror Story and American Crime Story; ABC has American Crime and Secrets and Lies; Fox has Scream Queens, with co-star Oliver Hudson noting that should the series earn a second season, it would also take place at a summer camp.

For ABC Family, the series comes as the network is in the midst of a major brand refresh that will kick off in January when it is renamed Freeform. The cabler plans to double its original programming in the next four years under president Tom Ascheim as the network focuses on what it calls "becomers." The cabler recently handed out a straight-to-series pickup for a comedy based on the life of Nicki Minaj. Its scripted roster also includes Baby Daddy, The Fosters, Switched at Birth, Young & Hungry, Stitchers, Pretty Little Liars, Recovery Road, Kevin From WorkShadowhunters and newly ordered Guilt and Beyond.

For Kitsis and Horowitz, the drama marks the duo's first new series since ABC's Sunday staple Once Upon a Time.

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