Mouse houses ‘Suite’ life

ABC Family renews 'Wildfire,' 'Cody'

A pair of Disney cable networks have renewed key scripted shows for next year.

ABC Family has picked up a second season of “Wildfire,” the cabler’s premiere one-hour drama, while Disney Channel has greenlit another 26 episodes of live-action comedy “The Suite Life of Zack and Cody.”

“Wildfire” is the first scripted effort to launch under the auspices of ABC Family prexy Paul Lee, who has refocused the cabler’s original programming on hourlong dramas to better complement its key off-net acquisitions “Gilmore Girls,” “Smallville” and “7th Heaven.”

Cabler has greenlit 13 more episodes, which will continue to follow the struggles of a young woman who, after serving time in a juvenile detention center, is given a fresh start on life working with horses on a family-run ranch. Genevieve Cortese stars alongside Dennis Weaver and Greg Serano.

“Wildfire” premiered to 2 million viewers — net’s best-ever series launch — and has boosted ABC Family’s time period 18-34 average by 75% from the previous year. Skein has averaged 1.9 million viewers season-to-date.

“Our promise this summer was to show that ABC Family can really be a destination for quality scripted shows,” Lee said. “Seven episodes in, ‘Wildfire’ continues to grow. It’s found a passionate audience and, perhaps more importantly, helped us to launch our second drama, ‘Beautiful Girls,’ which did very well for us.”

Production on season two begins this fall in New Mexico. Lions Gate TV produces in association with Piller2 and the Segan Co. Michael Piller, Lloyd Segan and Marjorie David exec produce.

Disney Channel, meanwhile, has ordered up 22 more episodes of “Suite Life,” about the misadventures of 12-year-old twin boys living in a hotel.

“The show is really a contemporary version of ‘Eloise at the Plaza,’ and it works for all the same reasons. It’s a kid’s ultimate wish-fulfillment fantasy,” said net exec VP of programming and production Gary Marsh.

Since its March premiere, “Suite Life” has become Disney’s No. 1 show among boys 6-11 and 9-14. Skein also ranks first in its time period with girls 6-11 and 9-14 against all of basic cable.

Production on the second season starts this month.