TCA 13: ABC’s Paul Lee comments on a so-so fall, expresses excitement for Joss Whedon’s Marvel series ‘S.H.I.E.L.D.’
Following NBC and FOX, ABC entertainment president Paul Lee took the stage at the TCA winter press tour to grade his network’s fall season and discuss the future. “We have a lot to shout about, and we also have a lot to do,” is how he kicked off the conversation.” He also said, ”We were disappointed there weren’t any big breakout hits on broadcast, including ABC.” I guess he opted to ignore NBC’s Revolution when he went with that self-deprecating jab. He expressed concerns with cancelled dramas like Last Resort and 666 Park Avenue and the faltering Dancing with the Stars, but he also praised low-rated comedies Happy Endings and Don’t Trust the B—- in Apartment 23 and shared his excitement for Joss Whedon’s Marvel series S.H.I.E.L.D. For the full scoop see the bullet-point breakdown after the break. (Click here for more…)
ABC continued the Upfronts run today and unveiled 10 new series coming to the network next season; four comedies and six dramas. Four newbies will premiere this fall, and the others will sit on the bench until midseason. Jump after the break to get more information about all of the new shows including synopses, cast and creator/executive producer listings, and clips.
Also posted after the break is ABC’s 2012-13 programming schedule. Notable changes to the schedule include comedies Happy Endings and Don’t Trust the B in Apartment 23 moving to Tuesdays; in November the Tim Allen comedy Last Man Standing will premiere on Friday where it will serve as a lead-in to Reba McEntire’s new half-hour sitcom Malibu Country (hello TGIF); and Revenge is relocating to Sunday (taking over Desperate Housewives‘ recently relinquished 9PM slot) where it will be sandwiched between returning fantasy series Once Upon A Time and the new supernatural drama 666 Park Avenue.
Here are a few highlights from ABC’s Upfront presentation led by the network’s president Paul Lee. He is confident that Happy Endings “can open a comedy block at 9PM on Tuesday,” which certainly bodes well for fans of the hilarious comedy. On Sunday night’s epic lineup that includes Once, Revenge, and 666: “It’s battle between good and evil from 8PM all the way to 11PM.” Looking to the future, Lee confirmed that series based on the Marvel Avenger The Hulk is in the works for the 2013-14 TV season; reports claim that filmmaker Guillermo del Toro is attached. Also an all-star edition of Dancing with the Stars is coming in the fall. Last, Lee was determined to shine a light on what ABC hopes to share with its viewers when the 2012-13 season rolls around this September. “Why just watch when you can feel?” he exclaimed. “It sums up the added DNA that this brand brings as far as the emotional connection to viewers.” (Click here for more…)
2012 Winter TCAs: ABC’s Paul Lee supports ‘Work It’, sets premiere dates for ‘Bitch(y)’ shows, and shares an “irreverent” dream
Another day, another big network talks programming at the TCAs. Today it was ABC bossman Paul Lee and he opened the panel like this: “Good morning. So, what did you think of Work It?” Ha! Lee didn’t spend much time talking about the “controversial” new sitcom that has critics and regular TV viewers alike baffled at the sight of it on ABC’s midseason schedule. For one thing he admitted that he doesn’t get why people protested the show leading up to last week’s premiere. His words: “I don’t find it to be offensive, I didn’t get it.” When asked why he picked up the wacky workplace comedy in the first place he responded, “I thought that there was room for ambitious, sticky shows like Revenge and Scandal and smart shows like Suburgatory. And I thought that there was room for a very, very, very silly show like Work It.” Sorry, Lee, it’s not working…creatively at least. The soft premiere was still good enough for Lee to comment that the ratings were “right in the middle” of expectations. Hmpf.
What else? Lee set premiere dates for two ambitious new shows. Drama Scandal from Shonda Rhimes (Grey’s Anatomy) premieres Thursday, April 5 at 10PM after Grey’s and comedy Don’t Trust the B—- in Apartment 23 starts Wednesday, April 11 at 9:30PM following Modern Family (Happy Endings‘ second season run will have concluded). His strategy here is simple and will likely prove effective. “We are using our number one drama to push the launch of Scandal, and we are using our number one comedy to push the launch of Don’t Trust The B—-,” Lee said.
Cougar Town fans, your show is coming back in the spring, but it’s season three premiere date still hasn’t been solidified. “The reality is I think Cougar Town is having one of its best [seasons],” Lee said. “We haven’t yet landed on where it’s going to go, but it’s tentatively in there for March. I think when we launch it, we’ll bring a big strong message that we love that show.” Lee went on to share a “dream” of his, one that involves ABC promoting a night of “young irreverent comedies” including Cougar Town, Happy Endings, and Apartment 23. Sounds tantalizing, doesn’t it? Update (1/17): Work It has been cancelled and Cougar Town will replace it starting February 14.
Also mentioned was upcoming drama set in the South GCB (formally Good Christian Belles, and before that Good Christian Bitches). Lee shared his thoughts on the use of the term “bitches” in not one but two of his midseason shows. Specifically about GCB: “We think it reflected the irreverence of the show, but we can’t use [bitch] in broadcast titles. What I’m hoping for is that it piques people’s interest. I would love people to go, there’s something edgy here.” And as for Apartment 23? “[It has] so much attitude…we felt it reflected the irreverence and the outrage of the show.”
What’s the fate of bubble show Pan Am? Lee says, “When it opened, it really brought an audience. There’s such a feeling of goodwill toward that show. We have new and original shows right through February.” Ratings check next month, and depending on the show’s pulse Lee will renew it or can it. Like he did Charlie’s Angels: “I don’t think we breathed life into that franchise but I think it was a strong attempt.”
After six years as ABC Entertainment Group President, Steve McPherson has resigned from the company. When McPherson first took the reins of the ABC primetime lineup the network was stuck in fourth place behind direct competitors CBS, FOX, and NBC. Throughout his career as president he oversaw many of ABC’s well known hits and misses. He had a hand in launching the uber-successful primetime dramas like Lost, Grey’s Anatomy, and Desperate Housewives; the new Wednesday night comedy lineup including Modern Family, Cougartown, and The Middle; and one of most watched reality programs Dancing With the Stars. During his early days, though, he was there when the network overplayed “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire” until its eventual cancellation. He has also been faulted with not pushing hard enough for procedural dramas (like CBS’ The Mentalist) as opposed to the heavily serialized shows like Lost. As great as a show Lost was (and always will be), shows like it are hard to repeat and syndicate once they are completed. His final year with ABC (2009-2010) landed the network in third place, just 150,000 viewers ahead of NBC.
The sudden resignation comes on the heels of the Summer TV Press Tour 2010, a time when the big networks show off and promote their fall TV lineups. Yesterday “an informed source” leaked information saying that McPherson was tied up in a formal investigation conducted by ABC related to sexual harrassment crimes. ABC has not responded to comment, nor have they denied the rumors. McPherson’s lawyer states that his client “made a voluntary decision to resign, and ABC accepted his resignation. It is not uncommon for high-level executives to be the subject of gossip and innuendo.” Whatever the case may be, McPherson is out and a replacement has not been decided upon yet. ABC Family president Paul Lee, riding high on his recent teen-hit Pretty Little Liars, is expected to occupy the now-vacant position. McPherson’s parting words:
“I want to thank the wonderful team of individuals who have worked with me throughout my time here and wish them nothing but the best.”
Update: It’s official. Paul Lee is the new ABC Entertainment Group President and will oversee the network’s primetime lineup and its sister company, ABC Studios. If he can do to ABC what he did with ABC Family (Kyle XY, The Secret Life of the American Teenager, Pretty Little Liars, Greek) this network might have a fighting chance against behemoths FOX and CBS.