If ABC chairman Lloyd Braun and entertainment president Susan Lyne have learned anything during their regime, it’s that a few well-placed mea culpas can keep the press off their backs.
During Braun's and Lyne’s Monday-morning executive session at the Television Critics Association summer press tour
in Hollywood, the two were careful to take responsibility for any mistakes
reporters believe them to have made during the past year. The biggest mistake:
filling midseason with haphazardly produced reality shows.
"This year we realize the importance of sticking with a schedule and not
getting greedy," Braun said. "We have promised to be militant with each other
about exercising restraint" in terms of scheduling reality programming.
To that end, ABC has kept its summer reality fare limited, although The
Real Roseanne Show -- a reality sitcom featuring ABC stable Roseanne Barr --
premieres Aug. 6 and will be double-run for seven Wednesdays.
Real Roseanne will follow Roseanne, her staff and her
family (who occasionally are the same people) as they create another TV show,
Once Real Roseanne concludes, viewers will be able to watch
Domestic Goddess on ABC Family.
ABC this summer also burned off reality show The Dating Experiment,
which scored low ratings and is now off the schedule, Braun said.
And the network is airing The Family, which ABC first aired in March
without much ratings luck.
To ABC’s advantage this year is that the network has more returning shows
and, thus, fewer holes to fill. Even though many of those sophomore shows -- such
as Less than Perfect and Life with Bonnie -- were admittedly on
the edge of being renewed, ABC hopes exercising patience will result in ratings
growth, Lyne said.
The network also has three shows in production for midseason, including
Steven King’s Kingdom Hospital, Rod Lurie’s Line of Fire and an
untitled show announced Monday about the wealthy inhabitants of a Manhattan
apartment building seen from their staffs’ point of view. ABC placed a
six-episode order for that show, from Amy Lippman and Christopher Keyser, the
creators of Fox’s Party of Five.
ABC was happy to report that this summer compared with last, the network is up
6% in adults 18-34 and 10% in adults 18-49.
The network also just closed a surprisingly strong upfront sales season, with
$3.4 billion in sales in all dayparts, second only to NBC.