UPDATED: In one of ABC Family‘s first major greenlight/renewal decisions under new president Tom Ascheim, the network has picked up three drama pilots: Alice In Arabia, about an American teenage girl kidnapped by her extended royal Saudi Arabian family and forced to live with them; Recovery Road, based on Blake Nelson’s novel about a teenage girl dealing with addiction; and Unstrung, about a brother-sister duo of tennis players. Additionally, the network has ordered a fourth season of comedy Baby Daddy and announced today a fourth-season renewal of fellow comedy Melissa & Joey, though that 20-episode pickup was originally unveiled in May.
Related: 2014 ABC Family Pilots
Alice In Arabia comes from a novice TV writer, Brooke Eikmeier, who wrote the script while serving as cryptologic linguist in the Arabic language to the US Army stationed at Fort Carson, CO, where she supported NSA missions in the Middle East. ABC Family also has bought a second script from Eikmeier, who left service in September with a rank E-4 Specialist. It is about female cultural specialists embedded with Special Forces teams to help them navigate cultural issues with the local population. “These three powerful new dramas are a great fit with ABC Family’s brand of original programming,” said Ascheim. Added Kate Juergens, Chief Creative Officer and EVP Original Content at ABC Family. “Innovative and authentic is the promise we make to our audience. These new projects deliver on that promise with emotional and entertaining storylines, intriguing, multi-faceted characters and complex relationships.” Last season ABC Family also ordered three drama pilots, The Fosters, Twisted and Chasing Live, all of which went to series. Here are detailed descriptions and credits for ABC Family’s newly picked up drama pilots:
“Alice in Arabia” is a high-stakes drama series about a rebellious American teenage girl who, after tragedy befalls her parents, is unknowingly kidnapped by her extended family, who are Saudi Arabian. Alice finds herself a stranger in a new world but is intrigued by its offerings and people, whom she finds surprisingly diverse in their views on the world and her situation. Now a virtual prisoner in her grandfather’s royal compound, Alice must count on her independent spirit and wit to find a way to return home while surviving life behind the veil. The pilot was written by Brooke Eikmeier, repped by WME and Circle of Confusion.
Based on the popular young adult novel by Blake Nelson, “Recovery Road” focuses on a teenage girl dealing with addiction. Maddie has a reputation as a party girl who doesn’t think she has a problem, until she’s confronted one day by her school guidance counselor and forced to choose between expulsion and rehab. Trying to save face, Maddie chooses to spend her nights living with other recovering addicts at a rehab facility, and her days pretending everything is perfectly normal among her high school classmates and her closest friends. The pilot was written by Bert V. Royal (“Easy A”) and Karen DiConcetto (“Ruby & The Rockits”). Beth Miller (“12 Dates of Christmas,” “Revenge of the Bridesmaids”) and Craig Piligian (“Survivor,” “American Chopper”) from Pilgrim Studios and Danielle VonZerneck (“Left to Die”) will serve as executive producers.
“Unstrung” explores the sexy, cutthroat, and emotional stakes of the professional world tour of tennis as brother and sister Luke and Ellie Holt compete to move up the ranks. The Holts may seem to have it all in a world where success is not only determined by prowess on the court, but by looks, charm and the ability to hide your faults under pressure from fans, critics, opponents, and even your closest allies. But a major family secret threatens to turn their lives, and their hard-earned family “brand,” upside down. Emily Whitesell (“Life Unexpected”) will executive produce.
“Melissa & Joey,” the hit comedy starring Melissa Joan Hart and Joey Lawrence, has been picked up for a fourth season, which will take the series to over a milestone 100 episodes. Hart plays Mel, a local politician raising her niece Lennox (Taylor Spreitler) and nephew Ryder (Nick Robinson) with the help of Joe (Lawrence), a financial whiz who took the job of running Mel’s household after Mel’s sister caused him to unfairly lose his job in a business scandal. In the series’ third season, the kids are grown and independent and Mel and Joe have decided to give in to their feelings and pursue a relationship with each other. “Melissa & Joey” is a half-hour multi-cam comedy executive-produced by David Kendall & Seth Kurland, Paula Hart, Melissa Joan Hart, Joey Lawrence and John Ziffren. Melissa Joan Hart (“Sabrina, the Teenage Witch”), Joey Lawrence (“Blossom”), Taylor Spreitler (“Days of Our Lives”) and Nick Robinson (“Jurassic World”) star. The series was created by David Kendall & Bob Young.
Also picked up for a fourth season, “Baby Daddy” follows five adults at various stages of growing up. Ben, who was living the bachelor life in New York City with his buddy, Tucker and his brother, Danny, a professional hockey player until his life was turned upside down when a baby girl was left on the doorstep by one of Ben’s one-night stands. Now in its third season, Ben is raising Baby Emma with support from Tucker, Danny, his mother, Bonnie and his childhood female friend, Riley, who is blissfully unaware that Danny has been in love with her for most of his life. The love triangle between Ben, Riley and Danny is still very prevalent, despite other relationships. Everyone is trying to figure out the next chapter in their lives and who they want to spend it with, but no one struggles with becoming an adult more than the over-the-top matriarch, Bonnie. “Baby Daddy” stars Jean-Luc Bilodeau (“Kyle XY”), Derek Theler (“90210”), Tahj Mowry (“The Game”) with Melissa Peterman (“Reba”) and Chelsea Kane (“Dancing with the Stars,” “Jonas LA”). The series is created and executive produced by Dan Berendsen (“The Nine Lives of Chloe King,” “Sabrina, the Teenage Witch” and “Hannah Montana: The Movie”).