ABC Family brood growing

'Middleman' among new pickups

ABC has picked up the light drama pilot "The Middleman" to series. Also picked up to series is an untitled drama project from "7th Heaven" creator Brenda Hampton.

Sources said ABC Family also is ordering to series the pilot "Roomies," subject to recasting one of the roles.

Meanwhile, the cable network has opted not to renew the drama series "Wildfire" beyond the current fourth season.

ABC Family also is said to be high on the pilot "Samurai Girl" and the sophomore series "Lincoln Heights," but no decisions had been made by press time.

All ABC Family orders except the Hampton project are said to be cast pickups, with details about production schedules and launch dates in flux because of the writers strike.

"Middleman," from writer-producer Javier Grillo-Marxuach, stars Natalie Morales as a twentysomething struggling artist recruited by a secret agency to fight comic book-type villains and Matt Keeslar as the title character, a sci-fi superhero who serves as her guide.

The Hampton project is described as a teen relationship series similar in sensibility to "Juno." The show is said to have received a six-episode order.

"Roomies," from the writing duo of Robin French and Kieron Quirke, revolves around a group of friends living as roommates.

The Lionsgate TV-produced "Wildfire" was picked up for a fourth season in November 2006, before the series' third season had premiered. The ensemble cast includes Genevieve Cortese and Greg Serano.

ABC Family launched an aggressive development effort last fall with a quartet of pilots: "Middleman," "Samurai," "Roomies" and another comedy, "Happy Campers."

The cable network is coming off the ratings success of its most recent "25 Days of Christmas" programming marathon, highlighted by the record-setting telefilm "Holiday in Handcuffs."

The network's series hits include "Kyle XY" and "Greek."