Category: ABC Family

TV dances with ballet shows, from 'Bunheads' to 'Breaking Pointe'

Sutton foster bunheads

As an aspiring ballerina, Amy Sherman-Palladino spent the first 20 years of her life with her hair tucked into a tidy bun. She has joked that if television writing hadn’t come along, she might have ended up playing Rumpelteazer in a bus and truck tour of “Cats.”

As creator of the beloved drama “Gilmore Girls,” Sherman-Palladino modeled a town gathering spot, Miss Patty’s Dance Studio, on the place she spent countless hours as a kid working on pirouettes and plies.

Now she’s leaping fully into the dance world with “Bunheads,” an ABC Family series starring Tony-winner Sutton Foster in which tutus and toe shoes are as much in the spotlight as her signature strong female characters and quip-filled dialogue.

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But the dramedy, launching June 11, won’t be going solo this summer. It’s one of a number of upcoming TV shows that center on classical dance, so there are plenty more bunheads (and their male counterparts) on the horizon.

The CW, looking for a reality hit, is tonight premiering “Breaking Pointe,” a peek behind the scenes of Salt Lake City’s celebrated Ballet West. Arts cable channel Ovation plans “A Chance to Dance” in August from dance impresario Nigel Lythgoe and his son, Simon. The docuseries follows a couple of former Royal Ballet dancers, dubbed the BalletBoyz, as they build an American dance company.

The shows join Australian import “Dance Academy,” a ballet drama airing since February on Nickelodeon, and several projects in development, including Oxygen’s “All the Right Moves,” which will center on “So You Think You Can Dance” choreographer Travis Wall’s attempt to start a new dance troupe.

The sudden interest in classical dance doesn’t surprise many industry watchers, since the dial is already loaded with celebrity dancing shows, urban-flavored competitions and talent searches.

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Andie MacDowell to helm Hallmark Channel's first prime-time series

Andie MacDowell to star in new Hallmark Channel series

Andie MacDowell is going where actor Dean Cain and craft guru Martha Stewart have gone before: the Hallmark Channel, where she'll helm the network's first prime-time series.

The actress is set to star in "Cedar Cove." It will start with a two-hour movie pilot airing later this year and continue with a 13-episode drama series that is expected to premiere in early 2013 (because "Frasier" reruns can't do it all!).

"Cedar Cove" is based on the book series by Debbie Macomber and will feature MacDowell as municipal court Judge Olivia Lockhart. 

The network has seen past success with Macomber's original movies: "Debbie Macomber’s Mrs. Miracle,” “Debbie Macomber’s Call Me Mrs. Miracle” and “Debbie Macomber’s Trading Christmas" — all performing well on the network. 

Production on the movie pilot  of "Cedar Cove" will start in early June. MacDowell also costars in ABC Family's "Jane by Design," which is wrapping production on the second half of its first season.


Q+A: Andie MacDowell tries TV with ABC Family's 'Jane By Design'

Martha Stewart turns up the heat in tweet about Hallmark Channel

— Yvonne Villarreal

Photo: Andie MacDowell attends the '"ud" premiere at Cannes on Saturday. Credit: Andreas Rentz/Getty Images.

'Pretty Little Liars': Fans left wanting by the identity of A

Pretty Little LiarsAfter two seasons, Monday night's season finale of ABC Family's "Pretty Little Liars" revealed the identity of A, the show's mysterious villain and cyber-bully.

If you don't want to be spoiled, read no further.

There were actually two big reveals on the episode, titled "unmAsked." First, viewers learned that former misfit turned popular girl Mona Vanderwaal (and supposed fellow A victim) was in fact the person behind the vowel. Well, one of them, anyway.

Because the other big reveal in the episode was that there's more than one person working as A, a "Team A," and the person pulling Mona's strings -- another member of Team A -- visited her in the episode's final moments after she'd been committed to a mental institution for severe personality disorder.

Just because she's in an institution doesn't mean Mona's story is over. In fact, actress Janel Parrish, who plays Mona, announced on Tuesday that she's been upgraded to series regular for "Liars'" third season.

While the fact that A's identity was revealed (or partially revealed) wasn't a surprise -- producers had teased the development well in advance -- the actual details were unexpected. And to judge by the fans' reaction, hotly contested.

It's possible "Liars" fan Twitter Waiting for #March19 (the date of the finale episode) had its expectations set a wee bit too high. The reaction? "The producers of #PLL  are pretty little liars themselves cuz they didnt give us a real answer for who's A."

Another fan, Lisa Hiser tweeted, "I'm sorry #PLL, but was definitely not satisfied with that reveal. Too predictable...and the real "A" wasn't really revealed."

Laura Lithgow of the Dominican Republic saw the season finale as a breakup of sorts. She wrote, "Now that I know who A not the same:( I will miss Pretty Little Liars </3."

British fan Devon-louise Oakley shared a similar sentiment when she wrote, "Knowing who A is has taken the fun out of pretty little liars for me but that was shocking."

ABC Family shouldn't go into crisis mode just yet, however. There were still plenty of fans who reacted with sentiments similar to Jordana Silva: "OMG pretty little liars was amazing."


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ABC Family gets top score in GLAAD survey of gays on TV

Q+A: Andie MacDowell tries TV with ABC Family's 'Jane By Design'

-- Patrick Kevin Day

Photo: Ashley Benson is one of the stars of "Pretty Little Liars." Credit: Eric McCandless / ABC Family

ABC Family cancels Raven-Symone comedy

Raven-Symone's ABC Family comedy 'State of Georgia' gets canceled

Raven-Symone is finding out the hard way that growing up is hard to do.

The actress who first gained popularity as the adorable moppet on "The Cosby Show" and became a squeaky-clean tween fixture on the Disney Channel is finding the road to more adult projects a bit bumpy, despite attracting attention for a slimmed-down figure after losing about 40 pounds.

Her latest project was "State of Georgia," an ABC family comedy that starred Raven-Symone as an aspiring actress who leaves the South to become a big star. The comedy, which ran last summer, was canceled Friday after failing to attract viewers.

The cancellation is the latest in a string of notable stumbles, including a movie flop ("College Road Trip"), an aborted "pajama party" stadium tour and a low-selling album. In the series, Raven-Symone continued much of the over-the-top mugging in display in "That's So Raven," one of the longest-running hits on the Disney Channel.

During an interview with The Times in July to promote the series, the actress was a bit testy and abrupt, downplaying her career shortfalls and declining to discuss her strikingly different appearance. "I lost the weight by accident," she said bluntly.

In other ABC Family news, the network has renewed "Make It or Break It" and given a back-order pickup to its new drama, "The Lying Game." Executives also announced the development of four new pilots including two comedies and two dramas.


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-- Greg Braxton

Photo: Raven-Symone. Credit: Gary Friedman / Los Angeles Times

ABC Family gets top score in GLAAD survey of gays on TV

Shay Mitchell (center) plays a lesbian on ABC Family's 'Pretty Little Liars.' Credit: Adam Rose/ABC Family

ABC Family stands at the head of the class in a new report looking at depictions of gay, lesbians and transgender people on television.

In its fifth annual Network Responsibility Index, the advocacy group Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) assessed the quality and quantity of gay characters on the broadcast networks plus 10 cable channels from June 2010 to the end of May.

The top score went to the Walt Disney Co.'s cable outlet ABC Family, which is targeted at viewers 14 to 34 and features several series with gay characters, including "Pretty Little Liars" and "Greek." CW earned the best score among any broadcaster, thanks to openly gay characters on shows such as "90210" and "Gossip Girl."

"We're incredibly proud to be acknowledged by GLAAD," ABC Family President Michael Riley said in an interview. "We want to be sure we program in a relatable, authentic way."

GLAAD gave failing grades to cable outlets A&E and TBS. The group pointed out that most of what very little gay inclusiveness A&E could claim stemmed from the fact that Ryan Buell, the host of "Paranormal State," came out as bisexual.  

"Often inclusion of LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) characters is a matter of will," said Herndon Graddick, senior director of programs at GLAAD. "It’s really something we’re going to be addressing with both of those networks."

Representatives for A&E and TBS did not respond to emails requesting comment.

Photos: Ricky Martin, 'True Blood,' Tina Fey win big at GLAAD awards

Other networks that have been flunked by GLAAD in the past – including CBS and USA – have risen to "adequate" in the new report. CBS' drama "The Good Wife" includes a bisexual investigator played by Archie Panjabi, who won an Emmy for the role.

GLAAD representatives say that representations of gays and lesbians on TV shows is important because the medium helps shape Americans' perceptions. More than one-third of people who reported viewing gays more favorably over the past five years in a recent GLAAD poll said that "seeing gay or lesbian characters" on TV was a contributing factor.

The group also pointed to the immense buying power of gays and lesbians, estimated at $835 billion in 2011.

One area of concern for GLAAD: the continuing lack of transgender characters on television. With a few exceptions – such as model Isis King on CW's "America's Next Top Model" – transgender people are seldom seen in programming.

Graddick said that transgender depictions on TV are lagging 20 years behind those of gays and lesbians.


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-- Scott Collins

Photo: Shay Mitchell (center) plays a lesbian on ABC Family's "Pretty Little Liars." Credit: Adam Rose/ABC Family.

Fall TV season: ABC's ambitious new schedule tries to 'Man Up' and strike a balance


In unveiling ABC's fall prime-time schedule, the network's new entertainment president, Paul Lee, played keys of affection to describe his slate of 13 new shows, calling them: "super cool," "a power bloc of drama" and "pure candy."

But one more practical word stood out: balance.

"What we have tried to do is get a nice balance -- stability for our established hits and real ambition for our new shows," Lee said Tuesday morning during a news conference at ABC's New York headquarters, a few hours before he was scheduled to take the stage to pitch his schedule to hundreds of advertisers and influential advertising buyers.

Finding a balance has been something that has eluded the Walt Disney Co.-owned network in recent years. After soaring to great heights six years ago with such blockbuster dramas as "Grey's Anatomy," "Desperate Housewives," and "Lost," ABC stumbled in its search for strong replacement dramas that appeal to both men and women. 

Instead, the network has achieved ratings success with "Dancing with the Stars" and the breakout comedy "Modern Family," and has made more modest gains with "The Middle," "Castle" and "Body of Proof," starring Dana Delany as a medical examiner. 

But advertisers have grumbled that the network, which will finish the current season in third place, was becoming a bit too female-centric. Nearly 65% of ABC's prime-time audience are women.

So now, similar to the middle-aged vixens of "Desperate Housewives," fetching the men has become something of a priority for Lee. The 50-year-old British executive, who transformed Disney's ABC Family cable channel, was picked last summer to run ABC Entertainment following the abrupt departure of former network programmer Stephen McPherson.

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'Pretty Little Liars' finale recap: A car crash, a death and another round of lies


Well, I guess we can finally cross Ian off our list of A suspects. Or can we? The season finale of "Pretty Little Liars" managed to produce just as many questions as it solved. At this point, the storyboards for this show must look like a "Family Circus" trip crossed with the "Gossip Girl" hook-up chart. It could mean that we're headed for a completely genius second season, in which the Tolstoy-level complexity will all play out in interesting ways. Or it could mean that "Pretty Little Liars" is painting itself into a corner. 

It was a doozy of a conclusion, but I can't help but feel a tad disappointed. After all that buildup, we didn't learn that much. Ezra is moving on to work at Hollis, which at least means that he and Aria can finally break out of the loop of boring close calls they've been caught in this season. He'll be working with his ex-fiancee, which had Aria all in a huff, but I can't imagine that we've seen the end of them together. I was crossing my fingers for a Maya-Emily reunion this episode, but things were fairly tame on her front -- just, you know, her family moving to Texas and her involvement in an entrapment scheme. 

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‘Pretty Little Liars’ recap: Welcome to the fun house


As we careen towards the finale of ‘Pretty Little Liars,’ I can’t decide whether the writers of the show are the world’s best poker players or the world’s worst. On the one hand, every episode of this season implicated a different suspect in Alison’s death: first it was Toby, then Jenna, then Ian, then Jenna again, then…maybe Mona? 

But on the other, this week’s episode was so bad at pacing. No sooner did we learn of another development in the case than the clue was cracked. We learned about the existence of a secret key Jenna wanted from Alison and then, lo and behold, Emily found it. Aria suspected Ezra of leading a double (or triple?) life and then it was all neatly explained away. Can’t a girl have a little bit more suspense? It’s as if "Liars" was rushing to spoil its own surprise party. 

Of course, the show still has a lot of ‘splainin’ to do—or not—in next week’s finale. Spencer’s plotline was by far the scariest and best developed of the night. After some more vague threats from the cops and a stern warning from her mother not to see Toby, what does Spencer do? She sets out to see Toby, of course. It so happens that the Founder’s festival is in town, and, just like dances, carnivals never turn out well for our little liars. Ian and Melissa slip up on their story about Hilton Head, which ruins their secret abortion alibi, and the next time we see Ian, it’s when he’s holding a crowbar above Spencer’s head. As it turns out, he’s not about to bring it smashing down on her skull—rather, he pried it loose from a fun house wall where Spencer managed to be stuck, after getting lost in the fun house looking for Toby. (That must rank among the most claustrophobia-inducing scenes ever shown on television, by the way.) What happened next neatly paralleled the arc of the Homecoming dance episode—while Emily fled from Toby after near-disaster, Spencer ran right into his arms. Hopefully it means she’ll avoid a broken skull. 

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'Pretty Little Liars' recap: 'The little girl who cried Ian'


We’re just two episodes away from the "Pretty Little Liars" finale, but, as we found out this week, not much closer to the truth of who’s been torturing the Rosewood High gang. After last week’s whiplash-inducing pace, it was inevitable -- and, frankly, a bit of a relief -- to have things slow down. Nonetheless, this week’s installment felt like filler: more clues, more misdirection, more feinting and logical loop-the-loops. Will we ever figure out what happened to Alison?

One thing’s for sure: Spencer’s in trouble. After leaving her last week in the hands of the police, we started this week with the police combing her house for clues to her connection to Alison’s murder. Spencer’s mom, a dead ringer for Mariska Hargitay, does her best to lawyer the cops away, but to no avail. They find that Spencer’s name bracelet had fibers matching the bloodied sweater Alison was wearing the night of her death. Was Spencer being framed, or is there some simpler explanation?

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‘Pretty Little Liars’ recap: Boys in the basement, wolves in the backyard


Things were moving fast this week on "Pretty Little Liars." Police visits! Hookups! Stakeouts! Lost virginities! A secret abortion! The most intense game of Scrabble known to man! There was enough scandal packed into Rosewood High's foursome to fuel a nuclear submarine for a month. With the season finale a mere three installments away, it’s looking like the show is gaining more momentum every week. So, in order from least to most shocking, here were the developments:

1. Ezra and Jenna struck up a weird bond over a short story that Jenna’s submitting to a competition; the story is about — you guessed it! — being viciously blinded. Aria, as her wig-out at the school dance proved, is what you could call the jealous type, so she doesn’t take well to the news. After trying to distract Ezra with a home-cooked meal and a see-through dress, she tearfully confessed her friends’ role in Jenna’s “accident.” And, of course, Ezra forgives her. It’s all pretty anticlimactic, but at least Ezra must be putting the pieces together about exactly what a pickle his girlfriend is in. 

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'Pretty Little Liars' recap: Year of the rat


It might be premature, but I’m going to go ahead and put it out there: This might have been the best episode of ‘Pretty Little Liars’ since the show’s return. Ever since the dance-a-thon, things—let’s face it—had gotten a little too mellow. (And as Woody Allen reminds us, once they’re mellow, then they ripen and rot.) More drama with Hanna and her mom? Stretching it. Another Aria and Ezra fight? Boring. But  murdering animals and planting evidence? Now you’ve got my attention. 

First, there’s the matter of the deliciously unsubtle choice for the Rosewood High play: "The Bad Seed." This naturally leads to a classroom discussion of the nature of evil and Spencer suddenly acquiring a taste for plaited pigtails. Hanna and Spencer join the cast, Fitz directs, and Aria shoehorns her way into a stage manager position only to get into another argument with Ezra over their relationship. Honestly, guys? You’re making that whole teacher-student relationship lose some of its lusty gleam. I have to say that my favorite part of the whole play was the return of Mona, who not only coins a name for the fearsome foursome (“Hanna and her clan-a”) but also pretty much nails the whole episode with one line: “Who’s evil and who’s just being naughty?” 

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‘Pretty Little Liars’ recap: ‘The real teens of Rosewood High’

122577_1467_pre Well, it’s about time. Not only did this week’s episode provide some much-needed relief from the saccharine kissy-kissy atmosphere of Valentine’s Day, it also revved up the action seriously on the A front. After the last two lackluster episodes, the appearance of Mrs. Potter’s nephew (or is he?) and Paige’s surprising confession added some intrigue back into this secret-infested town. Plus, am I imagining things, or did this week get seriously high-brow with the literary references?


The matter of Ashley’s little unauthorized loan seemed to be settled after Mrs. Potter’s untimely death, but this week a long lost grandnephew, James Leland—he of the thin lips and aggressively blond hair—arrived at the bank to take stock of his inheritance. Hanna and her mother are understandably freaked out about the possibility of being caught until Caleb (or “the Artful Dodger” as Spencer—who must have been brushing up on her Dickens—calls him) suggests that Leland might not be the man he claims to be. Turns out that the real James Leland died well before this dashing imposter came on the scene, and Ashley and Leland have an uneasy stand-off over the remains of the safe deposit box. The last scene of the show has A leaving flowers on Mrs. Potter’s grave, (inscribed, unfortunately, with the Shakespearean quote “To sleep, perchance to dream,” from a speech that isn’t exactly full of happy thoughts) so I’m guessing we haven’t heard the last of this particular financial dispute. But that isn’t even A’s most interesting activity.

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