Younger ABC Family Takes Shape

Last fall, new ABC Family President Angela Shapiro pledged that, come January, the Disney-owned net would chart a younger, fresher course. With a new reality block on Monday nights and fresh off-net acquisition, the latest transformation of the former Fox Family is under way.

ABC Family last week acquired The WB drama Gilmore Girls
from Warner Bros. Domestic Cable Distribution in a deal said to be worth $400,000-$500,000 per episode, or as much as $750,000 with bartered ad time. ABC Family gets exclusive off-net rights, which means that Gilmore Girls
won't be repurposed on any other network and won't go into broadcast syndication. The only other contender for the show, sources said, was WE: Women's Entertainment. (WE already airs off-net runs of WB's Felicity)

Shapiro's first major acquisition indicates that she is free to shop outside the Disney family for shows. Gilmore Girls
joins the schedule in fall 2004, where it could be paired with WB's 7th Heaven.

"Gilmore Girls
won't do a huge household rating," said Horizon Media's head of research Brad Adgate of Gilmore Girls. "but it's a very targeted 18- to 34-year-old vehicle."

That is the audience that ABC Family is gunning for as it tries to broaden out to more-contemporary definitions of family, what Shapiro has called more Will & Grace
and Friends
than Ozzie and Harriet.

New breeds of family are on display in reality/scripted hybrid My Life as a Sitcom, where real families vie to star in a sitcom based on their lives. It debuted to Jan. 20 to a 0.8 rating, on par with ABC Family's prime time average last year. Original reality show The Last Resort
debuted to a 0.6 that night.

"It's not what I would have hoped for, but it is still good," Shapiro said. "I have great hopes for both of the shows."