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Sources tell The Hollywood Reporter that Riverdale showrunner Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa is spearheading a new take on the former Freeform mega-hit. The new PLL is said to feature a new story and new characters, with Aguirre-Sacasa set to pen the script. A network is not yet attached and the project has not yet been taken out to possible buyers, though sources tell THR that WarnerMedia-backed streamer HBO Max is considered to be the target destination for the potential series.
Warner Bros. TV, whose former division Warner Horizon produced the franchise, declined comment.
Alloy Entertainment’s Leslie Morgenstein and Gina Girolamo will exec produce the drama alongside Aguirre-Sacasa. (Alloy controls the rights to the series and any offshoots.) Additional details are being kept under wraps, including what role, if any, series creator I. Marlene King will have given she departed Warners for Disney’s 20th TV last year.
PLL is considered a legacy title for Warners. The young adult-focused mystery thriller aired across the globe and spawned a couple of local adaptations. The flagship was a star-maker and social media monster and helped to launch the careers of cast members including Lucy Hale, Tyler Blackburn, Shay Mitchell and Tyler Blackburn, among others.
The original series ran for seven seasons from 2010-2016 and helped to define the former ABC Family and set the tone for the Disney-owned cable network’s rebranding to Freeform under former president Tom Ascheim. Freeform attempted to launch two spinoffs out of the franchise — Pretty Little Liars: Ravenswood (2014) and Pretty Little Liars: The Perfectionists (2019). Each lasted a single season.
The Perfectionists, it’s worth noting, was not originally designed to serve as a PLL offshoot. The series was based on the book by Sara Shepard and had King attached. Eventually, the decision was made to connect the two properties and feature original stars Sasha Pieterse and Janel Parrish reprising their characters who had grown up and were now attending college.
Freeform’s decision to cancel The Perfectionists came as a shock last year considering PLL had been a network-defining franchise. The cabler instead leaned into scripted originals that were more grounded in reality and social issues facing its core 18-34 audience including Grown-ish, The Bold Type and Good Trouble, among others. It’s unclear if Freeform will be a bidder on the new take on PLL.
Aguirre-Sacasa, meanwhile, is one of Warners’ top showrunners. Last year, the Riverdale architect and Archie Comics content chief inked a rich overall deal with the studio behind his CW hit. The showrunner has had a tough summer that featured Riverdale offshoots Katy Keene — which starred former PLL favorite Hale — and Chilling Adventures of Sabrina canceled at The CW and Netflix, respectively. The former lasted one season, while the latter will wrap its run later this year after four seasons. ABC also passed on Aguirre-Sacasa’s Dracula drama The Brides.
Sources note that Aguirre-Sacasa is looking to spread his wings and branch out beyond his frequent collaborations with Greg Berlanti, who also exec produced Sabrina, Katy Keene and The Brides. Still, sources say, Aguirre-Sacasa is prepping another project set in the Archie-verse and the duo continue to collaborate on Riverdale, which returns for its fifth season in 2021 on The CW.
As for PLL mastermind King, she oversaw all three series as part of her former overall deal with Warners. After spending a decade with Warners, King departed the indie studio last year for a lucrative pact with Disney-owned 20th TV.
News of Aguirre-Sacasa’s new take on PLL arrives after Hale told ET in May that she felt that “when the time comes that they want to do it with a whole new cast, I might have to produce it because I’m way too protective of it.” It’s unclear if she’s currently involved with the new take.
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