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ABC Family parties hearty at upfront

By SAM THIELMAN

“People keep telling me ‘I can’t go home without an autograph,’ ” yelled ad sales head Laura Nathanson over the din if the crowd at the ABC Family upfront soiree in Gotham which dispensed with the formal presentation and went straight for the party.

Nathanson grabbed a sheaf of cardboard table decorations and carried them off to be signed by the talent milling around the VIP section of trendy Lower East Side nightspot Beauty and Essex.

Standing a little away from the velvet rope and the waiters manning trays of bite-sized pear/cream cheese/toast concotions and serving up drinks dubbed “Pretty Little Buyer,” exec veep Kate Juergens said she felt the shindig was something of a coming-out event for the net, as it marked its first full-blown party.

“When I worked at the WB (Network), we had great parties,” Juergens recalled. “But you have to hit a tipping point before you can have those, and I think we’ve done that tonight.”

“Pretty Little Liars” thesps Troian Bellisario, Ashley Benson, and Shay Mitchell (among other talent) patiently endured a flood of ad-buying autograph seekers and, after the VIP rope was taken away, well-wishers with cell phone cameras.

So why a party instead of the ever-popular clip show/concert combo?

“It’s really all about bringing together all of our shows and talent with the people who support us,” said ABC Family prexy Michael Riley, who emphasized the importance of millenial viewers 14-34 to the brand. “It’s just to make it more of an informal get-together so we can get to know people.”