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ABC Family Gets Dramatic

ABC Family is enlarging the family tree, branching into original scripted series for the first time this summer with a new drama in June and another in August.

Wildfire, an hour drama from Lions Gate Television, Piller and The Segan Company, premieres the first of its 13 episodes in June.

Starring newcomer Genevieve Cortese, the show follows an 18-year-old released from a teen detention center to a family with a ranch. The previously announced Beautiful People bows in August and stars Daphne Zuniga as the mother of two daughters who move from New Mexico to New York.

“The biggest time for getting new viewers is 25 days in the summer, so it’s a really good moment to roll out our destination programming and scripted was the next step in doing that,” says Paul Lee, President of ABC Family. Lee joined the network nearly 10 months ago and has since led it to ratings success with off-nets including Gilmore Girls and Smallville. For the 2004 calendar year, the network drew a third more viewers in prime than in 2003.

ABC Family will also premiere two reality shows this summer.

Six episodes of an untitled series featuring  tennis aces Venus and Serena Williams debuts in July 2005. It will focus on the sisters’ lives off the court as they navigate career and life choices.

Another untitled project focuses on four students at Drexel University and what happens when one of their parents moves in to the house they share. Reality powerhouse Endemol is producing eight, half-hour episodes.

Campus tracks a feisty girl who starts a newspaper to expose the underbelly of the taut-midriff "in" crowd at her suburban school. It will be directed by Melanie Mayron (thirtysomething).

In case you hadn't guessed, ABC Family, a Disney cable channel, targets 18-34-year-olds.