Sixteen-year-old Chloe King — the teen at the center of ABC Family’s new sci-fi drama The Nine Lives of Chloe King (Tuesdays, 9 p.m.) — has catlike qualities and can produce claws on command. And yet, despite those oddities, she’s directly related to the rich bitches on The CW’s Gossip Girl and the stylish foursome on ABC Family’s Pretty Little Liars. How so? Those shows and characters all come from the premier teen hitmaking factory, Alloy Entertainment.
Almost every relevant, girl-centric young-adult show on television — including The CW’s popular The Vampire Diaries — began as a successful book series from Alloy. ”They’ve really figured out how to speak to the millennial generation,” says ABC Family’s senior VP of programming and development Kate Juergens, who’s working with Alloy on Liars, Chloe, and The Lying Game (debuting on ABC Family Aug. 15). ”They have their finger on the pulse, and they really know the fundamental beliefs and truths of that generation.” The company’s know-how has translated into ratings success — Liars is ABC Family’s highest-rated show, Gossip and Diaries are strong performers for The CW, and Chloe had a promising debut.
Alloy has thrived largely because of its focus on ideas. Regular meetings find staffers pitching new conceits that could be serialized and developed on platforms ranging from books and television to feature films and online. ”We’re very good at concept,” says Les Morgenstein, the CEO of Alloy. ”Pretty Little Liars came out of a development assignment, which asked the question: What’s a teen Desperate Housewives? Sometimes it’s specific like that, or it can be as general as someone bringing in a newspaper article that leads to a good idea for a series.”
Often Alloy discovers the best TV characters by simply dipping into its catalog of more than 1,000 published book titles. That’s how The Vampire Diaries — which was originally in bookstores back in 1991 — came to be launched in 2009 at the height of the Twilight craze. The Secret Circle, a witch series set to premiere as a companion to Diaries this fall, was also published by Alloy in the early ’90s.
In total, Alloy is currently producing seven series on The CW, ABC Family, and Nickelodeon, and lots more are in development. So what’s next? ”We want to develop shows for our audience that could live on the big broadcast networks,” says Morgenstein. ”The cast compositions would be different, but I think any television network would be eager to be in business with us.”