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ABC gives early pickup to ‘Family’

'Surviving Suburbia' pulled from schedule

ABC has given an early series pickup to “Modern Family,” the new sitcom from Steve Levitan and Chris Lloyd.

“Modern Family” — formerly known as “My American Family” — scored a great response at ABC’s pilot screenings, insiders said, giving the net reason to go ahead now and pick up 13 episodes for fall.

Given the Alphabet’s recent half-hour difficulties, Alphabet web hopes the early series order sends a message as it heads into the upfronts that the net is making comedy a priority.

Twentieth Century Fox TV is behind the show, which follows the lives of three American families, as seen through the eyes of a filmmaker. One home centers on a traditional nuclear family, another is a gay couple with a newly adopted Vietnamese child; and the third consists of an older man who has just married a younger Latina wife.

Jason Winer directed the pilot. Ed O’Neill, Ty Burrell, Sofia Vergara, Julie Bowen, Eric Stonestreet and Jesse Tyler Ferguson star.

Lloyd and Levitan are exec producers.

“I guess it just goes to show you that good things happen when you pay close attention to your family and exploit their idiosyncrasies for the whole world to see,” Levitan said.

Separately, ABC has pulled the Monday night sitcom “Surviving Suburbia” off the air for the remainder of the season. Show had been sandwiched between “Dancing With the Stars” and “Castle” on Monday nights; but with “Suburbia” preempted this week, “Stars” helped give a nice ratings boost to “Castle.”

As a result, “Dancing” will once again air as a two-hour on Monday; the following week, as had already been scheduled, “Dancing” will air for an hour into the two-hour premiere of “The Bachelorette.”

“Suburbia,” which stars Bob Saget as a cranky family man living in the ‘burbs, will complete its run May 27.

Also on Thursday, Fox scheduled an airing of the sci-fi pilot “Virtuality” on Saturday, July 4. Pilot will air as a movie of the week; that scheduling — on what’s likely to be the lowest-watched night of TV all year — makes it pretty clear that “Virtuality” won’t move forward as a series. The Ron Moore space drama was originally shot last year, but was sent back to the shop for re-editing, with an eye toward another look by Fox execs.

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