ABC Family Announces Summer Schedule Featuring New Series, Original Movies and More

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Paul Lee, president, ABC Family, today announced the network’s summer 2010 schedule. The network’s programming slate includes three new original series, returning hits, original movies and blockbuster theatrical acquisitions. The network finished 2009 as its best year on record.

“ABC Family has truly become a factory for great Millennial storytelling,” said Lee. “We’re so proud of our three summer launches, ‘Pretty Little Liars,’ ‘Huge’ and ‘Melissa & Joey,’ and we think they’ll make the perfect complement to our returning hits ‘The Secret Life of the American Teenager’ and ‘Make It or Break’.”

“Pretty Little Liars” follows four estranged best friends who are reunited one year after their best friend and queen bee of the group, Alison, goes missing – only to discover they’re receiving messages from an anonymous “A” who knows all their secrets. The drama stars Lucy Hale (“Privileged”) as Aria, Troian Bellisario (“Navy NCIS”) as Spencer, Ashley Benson (“Eastwick”) as Hanna, Shay Mitchell as Emily and Sasha Pieterse (“Heroes”) as Alison. Also starring are Laura Leighton (“Melrose Place”), Bianca Lawson (“The Vampire Diaries”) and Ian Harding (“NCIS: Los Angeles”). Produced by Alloy Entertainment in association with Warner Horizon Television.

I. Marlene King (“If These Walls Could Talk”), Oliver Goldstick (“Lipstick Jungle,” “Desperate Housewives”), and Leslie Morgenstein and Bob Levy (“Gossip Girl,” “The Vampire Diaries”) are executive-producing.  The series is based on Alloy Entertainment’s popular young adult book series written by Sara Shepard. “Pretty Little Liars” premieres on Tuesday, June 8 at 8:00PM ET/PT.

“Huge” is being developed by Winnie Holzman (“Wicked,” “My So-Called Life,” “Once & Again”) and daughter Savannah Dooley. Funny, heartbreaking and provocative, “Huge” follows the lives of seven teens and the staff at a weight-loss camp, as they look beneath the surface to discover their true selves and the truth about each other. The series stars Nikki Blonsky (“Hairspray”), Andrew Caldwell, Zander Eckhouse, Harvey Guillen, Ari Stidham, Ashley Holliday and Hayley Hasselhoff. Holzman will be executive producer on the premiere episode, and will serve as consultant for the remainder of the episodes. Dooley will serve as producer on the series. Kim Rozenfeld (“American High”), and Alloy Entertainment’s Leslie Morgenstein and Bob Levy (“Gossip Girl,” “The Vampire Diaries”), will serve as executive producers; Robin Schiff (“Romy & Michele’s High School Reunion” and ABC Family’s “10 Things I Hate About You”) will serve as a consulting producer. The series is based on the Alloy Entertainment book written by Sasha Paley. “Huge” premieres Monday, June 28 at 9:00PM ET/PT.

“Melissa & Joey,” a half-hour multi-cam comedy with Melissa Joan Hart and Joey Lawrence executive producing and starring, finds Hart portraying Mel, the grown-up former wild child of a political family who is now a local politician herself. When her sister ends up in prison and her brother-in-law flees after a scandal hits, Mel must take responsibility for her teenaged niece, Lennox, and pre-adolescent nephew, Ryder. With Mel spread too thin to manage by herself, help comes in the unlikely form of Joe (Lawrence) who, desperate for a job, moves in and becomes the family’s “manny.” David Kendall & Bob Young are executive producers and writers. Paula Hart also serves as executive producer. “Melissa & Joey” will premiere in August 2010 (Date TBA).

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Photo Gallery: Disney at the 2010 Nickelodeon Kids’ Choice Awards

img_5457 Last night, Nickelodeon held their 23rd Annual Kids’ Choice Awards at the UCLA’s Pauley Pavilion and there was no shortage of representation from the Disney family. In fact, Disney projects and stars dominated in the nominations with 19 in all including Favorite TV Show in which sole non-Disney nominee (and winner) iCarly defeated Disney Channel mainstays Sonny with a Chance, The Suite Life on Deck and Wizards of Waverly Place. The nominees even pitted Suite Life stars Dylan and Cole Sprouse together with Dylan proving to be the victor. Another pair of brothers —  Nick and Joe Jonas — also were nominees in the same category of Favorite TV Actor.

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Alyssa Milano Returns to ABC in ‘Romantically Challenged’ April 19

ABC's "Romantically Challenged" stars Kyle Bornheimer as Perry Gill, Kelly Stables as Lisa Thomas, Josh Lawson as Shawn Goldwater and Alyssa Milano as Rebecca Thomas. (ABC/BOB D'AMICO)“Romantically Challenged,” an ensemble comedy about four friends trying to find love and happiness while navigating their way through today’s tricky world of dating, premieres MONDAY, APRIL 19 (9:32-10:00 p.m., ET – Note the original air date of April 12 has changed) on the ABC Television Network.

Smart and beautiful Rebecca is recently divorced after 15 years of marriage. Having never really dated before she was married – and not having been on a date since Clinton was in office — she finds it scary to start over now. Although a gifted mom and lawyer, she is clueless about dating and hopes to get some help from her equally romantically challenged friends.

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Disney Channel to Offer Green-Themed Programming Starting April 17

Disney Channel celebrates Earth Day with green-themed episodes of its hit series, each conveying the importance of conservation, recycling and using sustainable natural resources, beginning SATURDAY, APRIL 17.

For the youngest viewers, Disney Channel will present a new episode of “Handy Manny,” an Environmental Media Association Award-winning series, guest starring eco-crusader “Sustainable Dave” Chameides and Lance Bass, and new eco-themed episodes of “Special Agent Oso” and “Imagination Movers.” PlayhouseDisney.com will launch a new “Special Agent Oso” game entitled “Recycling is Forever,” on THURSDAY, APRIL 1, in which kids can help Oso identify, sort and properly place recyclable items in the correct bins to earn a special recycling Digi-Medal.

For older kids and tweens, Disney Channel will feature encore eco-conscious episodes of “Phineas and Ferb,” “Hannah Montana,” “The Suite Life On Deck” and “Wizards of Waverly Place.”

New Disney’s Friends for Change: Project Green on-air messages featuring multi-platinum recording artists and actors Joe Jonas (“JONAS”) and Demi Lovato (“Sonny With A Chance”), stressing the importance of protecting the planet’s oceans and waterways, will debut on Earth Day. Kids can add to the more than 1.5 million Friends for Change “pledges” that have already been made by visiting Disney.com/ProjectGreen and committing to help local habitats.

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‘Hairspray’s’ Nikki Blonksy Cast as Star in New ABC Family Series ‘Huge’

Golden Globe®-nominated Nikki Blonsky (“Hairspray”) has signed to star in the new ABC Family original scripted drama series, “Huge,” which will begin production next month (April) and is set to premiere on the network in summer 2010. Funny, heartbreaking and provocative, “Huge” follows the lives of seven teens and the staff at a weight-loss camp, as they look beneath the surface to discover their true selves and the truth about each other.

In “Huge,” Blonsky will portray Willamina, a teen whose sardonic and rebellious nature make her a menace to some and revolutionary to others. Additional cast include Andrew Caldwell as Trent, Zander Eckhouse as George, Harvey Guillen as Alistair, Ari Stidham as Ian, Ashley Holliday as Chloe and Hayley Hasselhoff as Amber.

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Miley Cyrus to Mentor/Perform on American Idol; Joe Jonas and Demi Lovato Also Set to Perform

First the show inspired the attraction, then the attraction spawned a contestant and now Disney is invading the stage this week as Miley Cyrus will not only mentor the Billboard #1 hits themed show this week, but she will also perform her song When I Look of You from her upcoming film The Last Song. Also joining Miley on stage during the results show on Wednesday night will be Joe Jonas and Demi Lovato performing their new joint Make a Wave which will be featured in Disneynature’s upcoming release OCEANS.

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ESPN Launches Unprecedented Cross-Media Research Initiative: ESPN XP

ESPN XP

Today at the ARF’s Re:think 2010 conference, ESPN Research+Analytics revealed plans for ESPN XP, a research initiative unprecedented in its scope, to study consumer behavior around major sporting events beginning with the 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa.  Using one of the largest collections of research companies ever assembled plus a top-tier business school, ESPN XP will attempt to measure media usage and advertiser effects for the World Cup across all media platforms – TV, radio, Internet, mobile and print.

“We have learned a lot about cross-media behavior since we began work in this field in 2002,” said Artie Bulgrin, Senior Vice President, Research and Analytics.  “ESPN XP represents a major step forward in our commitment to further advance our knowledge about multi-media use, and the total and incremental impact it has on our clients’ media campaigns.”

Companies joining ESPN in this initiative include The Keller Fay Group, Knowledge Networks, The Media Behavior Institute, The Nielsen Company and The Wharton Interactive Media Initiative (WIMI).  Additional members of the collective will be announced at a later date.

ESPN XP is unique because it represents the first time a media company has attempted to measure all media platforms around a single event, including both media usage and advertiser effects.  It is different from previous work on cross-media audiences because it is an ongoing initiative — measuring the World Cup is only the first project in a series of quarterly projects to fall under the ESPN XP umbrella.  ESPN will take the best of what is learned from the World Cup and apply it to football in the fall and other sports during 2011.   The goal is to create a scalable research plan to measure cross-media audiences 12 months out of the year by 2012.

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Walt Disney Company’s Robert Iger Responds to Passing of Fess Parker

Fess Parker's window in Frontierland in Disneyland. Photo © Stitch Kingdom. All Rights Reserved.As many of you are aware already, Fess Parker, best known for his portrayal as Davy Crockett, passed away earlier today at the age of 85. Parker was named a Disney Legend in 1991 and is held in such high regard that he even has a window dedicated to him in Disneyland’s Frontierland (pictured), an extreme honor typically reserved only for the windows on the buildings along Main Street USA.

In reaction to the news, Robert Iger, President and CEO of The Walt Disney Company, and life long Davy Crockett fan issued this statement:

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Singer Shakira to Guest Star on ‘Wizards of Waverly Place’ April 16

Two-time Grammy and seven-time Latin Grammy Award-winning artist Shakira and comedian Jeff Garlin guest star in a new episode of the hit comedy series, “Wizards of Waverly Place,” during Disney Channel’s popular programming event, “Night of Premieres,” FRIDAY, APRIL 16 (8:00-10:00 p.m., ET/PT).  The evening also includes new episodes of the hit series “The Suite Life On Deck,” “Wizards of Waverly Place,” “Phineas and Ferb” and the Disney XD comedy “I’m In The Band.”

In the episode, titled ‘Dude Looks Like Shakira,’ Alex, Justin and Max are shocked to discover that their Uncle Kelbo (Jeff Garlin) has transformed into international music sensation Shakira after he failed to follow the Main Eleven Wizards Rules.

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Millionaire Goes Dancing Beginning March 29: Special ‘Dancing with the Stars’ Themed Shows

Tune in for the “Dancing with the Stars” Edition of “Who Wants To Be A Millionaire” to see host Meredith Vieira cut a rug on the “Millionaire” set. The week-long specialty series will air March 29 – April 2. All week fans of the hit reality show will take to the “Millionaire” hot seat with a chance to walk away with $1-million. In addition to general trivia, contestants will also face questions about the “Dancing with the Stars” series, some of which will feature clips from the ABC show. Check local listings or go to www.millionairetv.com for more information.

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