Programming

ABC: Lee Gets Network Laughing Again

Tim Allen returns to anchor a new night of comedy 5/23/2011 12:01:00 AM Eastern

The Rookie Class

DRAMAS

CHARLIE’S ANGELS: A remake of the 1970s series, starring Annie Ilonzeh, Minka Kelly and Rachael Taylor. From Millar/Gough Ink, Flower Films and Panda Productions, in association with Sony Pictures Television.

GOOD CHRISTIAN BELLES: From Darren Star, about a former “mean girl” who returns home to Dallas. Stars Leslie Bibb and Kristin Chenoweth; from ABC Studios.

MISSING: A former CIA agent searches for her son who disappears while studying abroad in Europe. Stars Ashley Judd. From Stillking Films.

ONCE UPON A TIME: From Lost producers Adam Horowitz and Edward Kitsis, a fantasy drama about a woman who is drawn into a fairy-tale world by her longlost son. From ABC Studios.

PAN AM: Set against the backdrop of Pan American Airlines in the 1960s. Stars Christina Ricci. From Jack Orman Productions, Out of the Blue Entertainment and Shoe Money Productions in association with Sony Pictures Television.

REVENGE: A woman returns to the Hamptons seeking vengeance for her family’s ruined reputation. Stars Emily Van Camp. From ABC Studios.

THE RIVER: A crew searches for a wildlife expert and TV personality who goes missing in the Amazon. Steven Spielberg, Daryl Frank and Justin Falvey are among those connected. From ABC Studios.

SCANDAL: From Shonda Rhimes, a workplace drama about a crisis manager and her dysfunctional staff. Stars Kerry Washington. From ABC Studios.

COMEDIES

APARTMENT 23: A naïve Midwestern girl attempts to cohabitate with an immoral roommate in New York City. Stars Dreama Walker, Krysten Ritter and James Van Der Beek. From 20th Century Fox Television.

LAST MAN STANDING: A man tries to hold his own in his female-dominated household. Stars Tim Allen. From 20th Century Fox Television.

MAN UP: Three male friends attempt to get in touch with their inner tough guys in this relationship comedy. From ABC Studios.

SUBURGATORY: A single father moves his unwilling daughter from New York City to the suburbs. Stars Jeremy Sisto and Jane Levy. From Warner Bros. Television.

WORK IT: Two men dress as women to get jobs as pharmaceutical reps. Stars Ben Koldyke and Amaury Nolasco. From Bonanza Productions, in association with Summer School Productions and Warner Bros. Television.

RELATED:
Complete coverage of the 2011 upfronts
The Best and Worst of Upfronts 2011
CBS: Scheduling For Strength
Fox: 'In It to Win It' With Big Bets Like 'X Factor'
NBC: Greenblatt Wants To Find His New 'Voice'
The CW: Pushing for More Original Programming
Turner: Programs Power Through Upfront Clips Snafu
ESPN: Flexing Its Marketing Muscle
Upfront 2011 Marketplace: Wet Week Clears Way For Hot Ad Market

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Click here to watch preview clips and trailers from upcoming shows


STRATEGY: Protect current hits with consistent scheduling and program
new shows season-long, including a new night of comedy.

Jimmy Kimmel gave it to the crowd straight at ABC’s
upfront presentation in New York last week when he
said the audience of advertisers and media buyers had a
gambling problem—a jab at the fact that none of ABC’s
new shows from last fall survived the schedule.

But Paul Lee, ABC entertainment group chairman,
still held his head high on stage as he stressed the power
of ABC’s storytelling and its “culturally defining,
aspirational shows.” To be fair, last fall was not Lee’s
fault—he took over for the departing Steve McPherson
just as the season was about to kick off last year—and
the two new ABC shows that did work this year, Body
of Proof
and Secret Millionaire, were ones Lee moved
from fall to midseason.

So in his first upfront slate, Lee programmed a schedule
that aims to protect ABC’s existing franchises while
creating opportunities to launch new hits season-long,
including on a new night of comedy on Tuesdays.

Former Home Improvement star Tim Allen will return
to the network in the new half-hour Last Man Standing,
anchoring the new block that leads in to the male-targeted
Man Up. Lee, who formerly held the top post at
ABC Family, wants to use the success of Modern Family
to program more family comedies, and he sees the
Tuesday shows as appealing to a broader audience than
the network’s core female viewership.

When the net’s reality tentpole Dancing With the Stars
is off-season, Tuesdays will expand into another hour
of comedy, with Cougar Town moving up a night to hold
the 9 p.m. hour followed by new odd-couple roommate
laffer Apartment 23. Moving Cougar Town up a night also
allowed Lee to give this year’s promising midseason entry,
Happy Endings, the plum post-Modern Family time
slot on Wednesdays this fall. “We think it has huge potential,”
Lee said last week of the relationship comedy.

Lee is also moving to make Sundays a destination for
scripted dramas; shifting reality anchor Extreme Makeover:
Home Edition
to Fridays and cancelling Brothers &
Sisters
made room to launch two of ABC’s more ambitious
shows in the night. “I have always felt that Sunday
night is a real place for appointment television,”
Lee said. He’s hoping to draw viewers in with modern
dark fairy tale Once Upon a Time and the 1960s period
piece Pan Am, which will sandwich the aging but still
successful Desperate Housewives.

Anchoring Thursday night is the rebooted Charlie’s
Angels
, which Lee calls “pure candy.” The series, which
was part of an escapist genre of television alongside
shows like Happy Days and The Love Boat when it first
ran on ABC in the 1970s, is not the only rookie on
ABC’s schedule that has a fairy tale or fantasy aspect to
it, which was done somewhat strategically for the current
environment. “I think our brand of uplifting entertainment
could not be more relevant for this time,”
Lee told the upfront audience.

ABC is saving several of its 13 new series for midseason
as part of a strategy to have more originals on
the network year-round. “I think you can see as much
strength in midseason as there is in the fall,” Lee said.
It seems the net is betting big on soap Good Christian
Belles
, which closed ABC’s upfront last week and has
been billed as “Desperate Housewives in the South.” Lee
said he is eyeing a spring premiere for the series.

With so many new shows launching in the fall, Lee
was looking for stability from the rest of ABC’s schedule
for its returning series. Monday nights will return intact
with Dancing With the Stars leading into Castle, and Body
of Proof, Grey’s Anatomy and Private Practice will all return
in their current respective time periods.

E-mail comments to amorabito@nbmedia.com
and follow her on Twitter: @andreamorabito

The Rookie Class

DRAMAS

CHARLIE’S ANGELS: A remake of the 1970s series, starring Annie Ilonzeh, Minka Kelly and Rachael Taylor. From Millar/Gough Ink, Flower Films and Panda Productions, in association with Sony Pictures Television.

GOOD CHRISTIAN BELLES: From Darren Star, about a former “mean girl” who returns home to Dallas. Stars Leslie Bibb and Kristin Chenoweth; from ABC Studios.

MISSING: A former CIA agent searches for her son who disappears while studying abroad in Europe. Stars Ashley Judd. From Stillking Films.

ONCE UPON A TIME: From Lost producers Adam Horowitz and Edward Kitsis, a fantasy drama about a woman who is drawn into a fairy-tale world by her longlost son. From ABC Studios.

PAN AM: Set against the backdrop of Pan American Airlines in the 1960s. Stars Christina Ricci. From Jack Orman Productions, Out of the Blue Entertainment and Shoe Money Productions in association with Sony Pictures Television.

REVENGE: A woman returns to the Hamptons seeking vengeance for her family’s ruined reputation. Stars Emily Van Camp. From ABC Studios.

THE RIVER: A crew searches for a wildlife expert and TV personality who goes missing in the Amazon. Steven Spielberg, Daryl Frank and Justin Falvey are among those connected. From ABC Studios.

SCANDAL: From Shonda Rhimes, a workplace drama about a crisis manager and her dysfunctional staff. Stars Kerry Washington. From ABC Studios.

COMEDIES

APARTMENT 23: A naïve Midwestern girl attempts to cohabitate with an immoral roommate in New York City. Stars Dreama Walker, Krysten Ritter and James Van Der Beek. From 20th Century Fox Television.

LAST MAN STANDING: A man tries to hold his own in his female-dominated household. Stars Tim Allen. From 20th Century Fox Television.

MAN UP: Three male friends attempt to get in touch with their inner tough guys in this relationship comedy. From ABC Studios.

SUBURGATORY: A single father moves his unwilling daughter from New York City to the suburbs. Stars Jeremy Sisto and Jane Levy. From Warner Bros. Television.

WORK IT: Two men dress as women to get jobs as pharmaceutical reps. Stars Ben Koldyke and Amaury Nolasco. From Bonanza Productions, in association with Summer School Productions and Warner Bros. Television.

 

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