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ABC Family Wedded to Vegas Reality

Aug 30, 2004  •  Post A Comment

ABC Family has engaged producer-director Stephen Hopkins, who directed the “Traffic” miniseries and such films as the feature version of “Lost in Space,” to executive produce a reality series set inside a Las Vegas wedding chapel, sources said.

The Walt Disney Co.-owned cable network is close to finalizing a 12-episode deal for the project, which is temporarily titled “Chapel of Love.”

The show will be the first series greenlighted by ABC Family’s new president, Paul Lee, who joined the channel in June. Mr. Lee previously headed BBC America, where he was credited with the unlikely feat of establishing the channel as a hip brand.

“Chapel” will be a first for Mr. Hopkins, who has never before tackled a reality show. In addition to his feature credits such as “Predator 2” and “Under Suspicion,” he is co-executive producer of “24” and directed the upcoming HBO movie “The Life and Death of Peter Sellers.”

Other executive producers on the “Chapel” project are Brent Travers and David Schermerhorn under the banner Schmaguuli Productions.

ABC Family and producers declined to comment on the deal.

The half-hour show will chronicle the 24-hour bedlam at a family-run chapel. Though the chapel is not -yet identified, due to a lingering negotiation, the business claims to be the busiest in Vegas and boasts it can marry 150 couples in a weekend. Adding to the drama are the chapel’s colorful owners and an ongoing feud with rival wedding venues.

Though Mr. Lee’s leadership has yet to impact ABC Family’s on-air content, the beleaguered channel has been enjoying an uptick in ratings and ad revenue in recent months, with a 76 percent second-quarter gain compared with the same period in 2002.

The channel’s previous reality efforts include the teen decorating series “Knock First” and teen lifestyle swap show “Switched” as well as less successful efforts such as “Dance Fever” and “The Brendan Leonard Show.” Production on “Chapel” is tentatively scheduled to begin this fall for a debut in early 2005.