ABC hires 'Supermanny' for fall

Male-based spinoff features child therapist Mike Ruggles

ABC is moving forward with its plans for a male-based "Supernanny" spinoff.

The network will air an episode of "Supermanny" as a back-door pilot in the fall. The spinoff's format will remain similar to the original, with a child-development expert lending a family in crisis some tough-love guidance.

However, instead of professional nanny Jo Frost leading the living room intervention, gruff Chicago child therapist Mike Ruggles will step in.

"With a guy, he can connect with dads in a different kind of way," executive producer Nick Emmerson said. "It's really powerful stuff."

Ruggles' approach to diffusing family disputes will differ somewhat as well. Ruggles encourages parents to learn how to play with their kids and get to know them.

"It feels different to have a guy come in to work with your kids," Emmerson said. "A woman has a woman's touch, and people are more accepting and ready for her advice. We had to find the right person who has real authority and a gentle touch as well."

The project is from Ricochet Television, which also produces the original series. ABC plans to air the episode as a special in the new "Supernanny" time period, 9 p.m. Fridays. The spinoff has been in development since last year, with the network hoping to build off the sturdy reality veteran series that's performed competitively in various spots on its schedule.