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Freeform isn’t wasting any time with its brand reinvention.
Three months after changing its name from ABC Family, the Tom Ascheim-led Disney-owned cable network used its upfront presentation Thursday to announce a massive development slate that includes two new drama series, a pilot as well as multiple dramas, comedies, movies, a late-night talk show and programming block and several short-form projects. The hefty slate joins two previously announced series pickups for Bella Thorne vehicle Famous in Love and Marvel’s Cloak and Dagger as well as drama pilot order Issues.
“Freeform is a brand built for the fresh taste of a modern generation who value open-mindedness, fluidity, immediacy and who don’t like to be fenced in,” said Ascheim. “As we continue to evolve and deliver on our brand promise, it’s important that we put our audience at the center of everything we do and connect with them in all the places they are and in the ways they prefer — on our cable network, in the digital space and with ‘Freeform Fest’ IRL (in real life).”
Leading the offerings are a reboot of British series Misfits from Josh Schwartz and Stephanie Savage; a spinoff of Young & Hungry starring Ashley Tisdale; and the previously announced Marvel drama Cloak and Dagger and Bella Thorne drama Famous in Love and pilot Issues.
As the cabler shifts to focus on adults 18-34 and what it calls “Becomers” — those experiencing a series of “firsts” like love, jobs and more — Freeform is doubling down on its digital offerings in a bid to unite linear and non-linear viewers. The new digital platform will also allow viewers to binge and stream content as well as create customized playlists of episodes and scenes as well as be part of the cabler’s development process.
On the scripted side, the network is developing seven dramas and four comedies: Rising, from executive producer Selena Gomez, Mandy Mandy Teefey and Aaron Kaplan; Nine Years Under, from executive producer Will Packer; a spinoff of the network’s popular sitcom Young & Hungry, executive produced by and starring Tisdale; Misfits, from Schwartz and Savage (Gossip Girl, The O.C.); Alone Together, from The Lonely Island’s Andy Samberg, Jorma Taccone and Akiva Schaffer; Made in LA from Schwartz, Savage and Mila Kunis (That ‘70s Show); Lore, from executive producer McG, who has an overall deal with Freeform; comedy Paige One, executive produced by Elizabeth Banks (Pitch Perfect); Hunted, from Kunis and Ed Bernero; mermaid thriller The Deep; and New People, from executive producer Joel Silver and Lionsgate.
On the original movie side, Freeform is readying Angry Angel and a Greek reunion holiday movie.
The network will also launch original programming in late night with Alice, a half-hour weekly variety-style platform showcasing bold, groundbreaking and experimental short-form content.
Shortform linear/digital projects include Rio Squad, shorts featuring female athletes who have dedicated their lives to being the best at their sport; Open Roads; My Boyfriend Is a Robot; an untitled Punam Patel project; and Just Josh. The network is also licensing shortform content from School of Doodle.
After offering a look at short-form content in late-night, Freeform is also developing a late-night talk show from two Daily Show producers. Later Bitches is a half-hour, comedic talk show hosted by a group of smart, alluring and dynamic women that Freeform says redefines late night. It will feature the latest in pop culture, celebrity interviews, viral videos, lifestyle talk, debates and tell-all conversations typically reserved for therapy — all over drinks. The Daily Show’s Jennifer Flanz and Elise Terrell will consult. Later Bitches hails from Omelette Bar Productions and True Entertainment.
Also in development is Freeform Fest, which in another first for the network will be a live event slated for summer 2017 that is described as a collaborative and creative celebration between fans and talent in tribute to TV, music, art, comedy, fashion, film and digital media. The event will feature performances, fan interaction, participatory activities, interactive art, food, drink, sideshows and delightful surprises in between, with live custom vignettes and a wrap-up on-air special.
On the unscripted front, the cabler is readying Freeform Presents: Snapshot, two one-hour documentaries on big pop-culture moments from ESPN Films and the producers of 30 for 30.
Holiday-themed movie shorts will join the cabler’s annual “25 Days of Christmas” lineup and include A Cinderella Story: If the Shoe Fits, starring Sofia Carson. Other programming blocks joining “Countdown to 25 Days,” “13 Nights of Halloween” and “Funday” are “Man Crush Movie Week” in April with The Notebook and “Harry Potter’s Birthday” on July 31.
Freeform also cemented a number of premiere dates for new and returning series:
Young & Hungry: Wednesday, June 1, at 8 p.m. ET/PT
Baby Daddy: Wednesday, June 1, at 8:30 p.m.
Guilt: Monday, June 13, at 9 p.m.
The Fosters: Monday, June 20, at 8 p.m.
Pretty Little Liars: Tuesday, June 21, at 8 p.m.
Dead of Summer: Tuesday, June 28, at 9 p.m.
Cheer Squad: Monday, Aug. 22 at 10 p.m., airing twice a week nightly
Stitchers season finale: Tuesday, May 24
Monica the Medium: Monday, April 25 at 10 p.m.
2017: Beyond, The Letter, Switched at Birth, Shadowhunters season two
Here’s a closer look at Freeform’s development slate:
In the mermaid-obsessed sea town of Bristol Cove, everyone’s lives will change when actual mermaids come ashore, causing sides to be taken, loyalties to be tested and a war between man and mermaid to begin. Executive producers include Eric Wald, Dean White, Brad Luff, RD Robb and Nate Hopper.
From executive producer Mila Kunis, Hunted centers on Valerie who escapes prison to prove she did not murder her husband. While the police hunt for her and attempt to prove her family helped her escape, Valerie fights to exonerate herself — but is she really innocent? Along with Kunis, Ed Bernero and Hugh Sterbakov executive produce.
A sci-fi drama from executive producer McG, Lore tells the story of the lone survivor of an ancient race of paranormal beings who is abducted and forced to put his extraordinary abilities to work for the government. When an old nemesis resurfaces, this arrangement turns into an uneasy alliance, and the only hope for survival in a dangerous world of mystery and magic. The series is written by Zack Stentz (Thor) and executive produced by McG, Mary Viola, Stentz, David Ellison, Dana Goldberg and Marcy Ross.
A drama based on a hit British series, a group of twentysomethings are exposed to a mysterious chemical and subsequently develop peculiar superpowers. The series is from ABC Signature Studios and executive produced by Josh Schwartz and Stephanie Savage.
Executive produced by Joel Silver and writer-director Don Roos, in association with Lionsgate, this dramedy focuses on a middle-class family who adopted identical twin boys at birth. One is all boy, one grew up trans. The series is inspired by the book Becoming Nicole: The Transformation of an American Family.
Nine Years Under
From executive producer Will Packer, Nine Years Under tells the story of a law school grad who blows off the bar exam to take a job at a funeral home after the sudden death of her mother. Along with Packer, Korin Huggins executive produces.
Executive produced by Selena Gomez, Mandy Teefey and Aaron Kaplan, this drama is set in a low-income Latino neighborhood and is told through the eyes of an 18-year-old girl destined for greatness. Ana Cobarrubias will be a consultant on the project.
From The Lonely Island’s Andy Samberg, Jorma Taccone and Akiva Schaffer, two misfits from different backgrounds try to make their way into the vain and status-obsessed culture of Los Angeles. Along the way, they find salvation in their male/female, strictly platonic friendship.
Made in LA
From executive producers Schwartz and Savage, along with Kunis, Made in LA is a half-hour comedy set in the world of fashion, focusing on two friends who join their different skill sets to become fashion entrepreneurs. The series is loosely inspired by the creators of fashion label Juicy Couture and the authors of The Glitter Plan. The series is from ABC Signature Studios.
Elizabeth Banks executive produces this single-camera comedy that follows the insulated life of a children’s book author who hates children. Her life is turned upside down when her brother shows up on her door with his two young daughters. The show comes from Warner Horizon TV and executive producers Banks, Max Handelman and Susan Jaffee.
Young & Hungry spinoff
A spinoff of the network’s popular sitcom Young & Hungry executive produced by and starring Ashley Tisdale as Logan Rawlings.
Greek: The Reunion
The characters from Greek return to Cypress Rhodes University for their five-year reunion. It will be executive produced by Shawn Piller, Lloyd Segan and Patrick Sean Smith.
From executive producer Will Gluck, a disgruntled angel tries to make it back into heaven after being kicked out.
This docuseries follows professional dancer Josh Horner as he gives unconventional crash courses in dancing for special events.
My Boyfriend Is a Robot
A romantic fish-out-of-water comedy centering on the relationship between a girl and her boyfriend — who happens to be a robot. The project is from executive producers Deb Spera and Maria Grasso.
Focusing on nonprofit organization Open Roads, which provides filmmaking wilderness camps for high school students, this docuseries follows campers’ experiences in the wild, making documentaries and creating new relationships. Viewers will also get to see completed documentaries from the Open Roads campers.
Untitled Punam Patel Project
Comedienne Punam Patel hosts this unconventional interview-based show. Each episode finds Punam tucking a celebrity/person of influence into bed, using children’s stories as a launching pad for fun and personal conversation topics.
Rio Squad (working title)
In a collaboration with ESPNW, Rio Squad highlights four uniquely powerful female athletes who have dedicated their lives to being the best at their sport. It follows these women as they pursue their dreams, prepare for the Summer Olympic Games and demonstrate that a female hero doesn’t have to take the shape of a princess.
School of Doodle
A series of short videos acquired from School of Doodle, an organization that creates inspiring content for girls and women. This series will celebrate the arts and provide the audience the tools to turn creative potential into success.
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