Summer Fare from the Disney ABC Television Group


“Combat Hospital” stars Michelle Borth and Elias Koteas on ABC.

The upcoming summer fare for the Disney ABC television group was presented during a daylong press event held at the network’s Burbank headquarters. There was a parade of talent, with the acclaimed Marlee Matlin, Melissa Joan Hart, Lea Thompson, Constance Marie, Raven-Symone, Loretta Devine, and mega-producer Mark Burnett, along with fresh faces ready to make their mark in showbiz. All were on hand to promote great returning shows and exciting new series.

Performers from ABC, Disney, Disney XD, and ABC Family Channel all sat down to talk about their projects for your summer viewing pleasure.

One of the most impressive, Combat Hospital is a fast-paced new medical drama, premiering June 21. The ABC series stars Elias Koteas as the Colonel in charge of the doctors at an Afghanistan combat hospital. Michelle Borth plays a trauma surgeon in the Canadian forces serving in the war zone. The stories are set in 2006, not the present day, “because we wanted a time period that would convey a sense of urgency, when the world was still uncertain about our military presence, and working out of make-shift hospitals without a lot of resources,” says Koteas, emphasizing “this is not a remake of MASH.”

Borth reports that she wants to convey that the war zone doctors “focus on the difficult situation they are placed in, and they practice medicine to the best of their abilities. They are gifted and courageous people who can be calm in the midst of the storm around them.”

Also on ABC, starting May 30, is Extreme Makeover: Weight Loss Edition, focusing on the inspiring stories of eight people who took a year-long journey with likable fitness trainer Chris Powell. On June 16, a wild new contest show debuts, 101 Ways to Leave a Game Show. Hosted by the wacky comic Jeff Sutphen, the hook to the show isn’t answering tough questions, or a big pay day. Sutphen says, “It’s about the contestants getting kicked off the show in a spectacular way. Sometimes it’s shocking, like a fiery explosion.” Not surprising, it’s from the same folks who gave us Wipe Out and Fear Factor.

Rookie Blue has Missy Peregrym and Gregory Smith back on the beat for a second season starting June 23 on ABC, exploring how their personal and professional lives collide.

Producer Mark Burnett is the king of challenging adventure shows, such as his Emmy-winning Survivor series. Now he’s going to take viewers on an exotic journey with Expedition Impossible: Kingdom of Morocco, premiering June 21 on ABC. Burnett promises it to be “an Indiana Jones type of adventure.”

The shows returning to the ABC Family channel are The Secret Life of the American Teenager and Pretty Little Liars back June 14, and Melissa & Joey starting its summer season June 29. Plus there’s a peachy new comedy, The Great State of Georgia (starting June 29) starring sassy Raven-Symone as an aspiring actress trying to make a name for herself in New York. It also stars Majandra Delfino (Roswell) as Georgia’s science-geek best friend, and the magnificent Loretta Devine (Grey’s Anatomy) as Aunt Honey.

Three diverse new dramas are also being offered: Switched at Birth, The Nine Lives of Chloe King and The Lying Game. Switched at Birth (premiering June 6) stars Vanessa Marano as Bay Kennish and newcomer Katie Leclerc as Daphne Vasquez. As the title reveals, it’s about teenage girls who discover they were switched at birth. Bay is wealthy (with Lea Thompson from Back to the Future playing her mom), while Daphne, who is deaf, grew up with a single mom played by Constance Marie. Oscar-winner Marlee Matlin will guest star, and the drama will come from trying to cope with a blended family.

The Nine Lives of Chloe King (premieres June 14) is a supernatural drama starring Skyler Samuels as Chloe King, a girl who suddenly develops strange abilities and learns she’s being hunted by an assassin. It also stars familiar faces Grey Damon from Friday Night Lights, and the talented Benjamin Stone from 10 Things I Hate About You, who act as Chloe’s protectors.

The Lying Game (premieres August 15) is based on the novel by Sara Shepard, who also wrote Pretty Little Liars. So of course there’s a mystery involved when twins (played by Alexandra Chando of As the World Turns) switch identities. It all makes for intriguing summer fare.

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