ABC Family network prepping to become Freeform network

PASADENA, Calif. (AP) — A roundup of news Saturday from the Television Critics Association winter meeting, at which TV networks and streaming services are presenting details on upcoming programs:



The ABC Family network is pointedly getting rid of the “ABC” in its name when it makes the transition to the Freeform network on Tuesday.

Most attention has been paid to the removal of “Family” in the name change. “Family” was deemed unhip for the Disney-owned network that is focused on reaching women aged 18 to 34, or the group in between “their first kiss and first kid,” said network chief Tom Ascheim.

The sense of discovering something new on their own is important to people in this age group, and having a well-known brand like ABC or Disney in the name plays against that instinct, he said.

With an eye to the future, Ascheim said he doesn’t necessarily want the Freeform brand associated just with a television network. In focus groups, consumers were asked what they thought of the name if it was tied to a clothing line or streaming service, for example.

The name change is ushered in with a marathon of episodes of “Pretty Little Liars,” ABC Family’s most popular show, and a new episode on Wednesday. Ascheim said the network is also working with pop star Nicki Minaj on a comedy about her life growing up.



Actress Alexis Carra is moving directly from “Mixology,” a short-lived ABC sitcom whose setting is one night in a Manhattan bar, to a new series for the Freeform network about trying to overcome substance abuse.

Carra said that she attended Alcoholics Anonymous meetings to prepare for her work in “Recovery Road,” which premieres Jan. 25.

The actress and some others involved in “Recovery Road” purposely didn’t drink while the series was made, she said, adding that she does like to have an occasional glass of wine.

“A few of us were more successful than others,” Carra said.



Film producer J.J. Abrams isn’t likely to forget his visit with writer Stephen King in Maine.

After dinner, the celebrated horror writer suggested they go see a horror movie, said Abrams, who has just made an adaptation of King’s novel “11.22.63” for the Hulu streaming service.

They saw “The Descent,” a 2005 film about women trapped in a cave system and hunted by flesh-eating humanoids.

“Every time somebody did something horrible onscreen, he would cheer, and I just fell in love with him,” Abrams said.



Comic actor Seth Rogen is making a version of the graphic novel “Preacher” into a television series for the AMC network with partners Sam Catlin and Evan Goldberg. And it made for some interesting discussions at work.

They had to weigh how many of the comic book’s graphic scenes should be put on camera. There was one long debate, for example, about whether a character’s ear or nose would be bitten off. The ear was deemed less gross.

“We want the show to be fun for regular people with not sick sensibilities,” Rogen said. “Put that on a poster.”

The series debuts this summer.

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