TCA: ABC’s Paul Lee--‘The Muppets’ Didn’t Have the ‘Joy’ the Network Anticipated

Updated: Struggling comedy saw major behind-the-scenes shift midseason
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Complete Coverage: TCA Winter Press Tour

Pasadena, Calif. — ABC’s Paul Lee addressed The Muppetsstruggle to find an audience and the network’s decision to bring on board showrunner Kris Newman.

“We didn’t quite have the joy, the laughter and the heart we were looking for,” said the ABC Entertainment Group president Saturday during the network's TCA winter press tour session.

Newman, who replaced Bob Kushell on the show, joined the comedy for the last six episodes.

"We have very high hopes for it and hope that they're [the episodes] going to be as good as the scripts are," said Lee.

The network also struggled with new show Wicked City, giving the drama the dubious distinction of being the first fall show canceled.

"I love taking big swings and it was a big swing," said Lee, adding that the Alphabet didn't feel the show would find the audience.

"You're in a much worse place in these jobs, if you're not taking swings," he said.

The fates of Castle and Nashville came up during the exec session as well with Lee saying that the network didn't have any plans to pull either series.

Other highlights from the panel included:

--Many fans of Shonda Rhimes' show Scandal were surprised by the abortion scene in the last episode. Lee said the idea for the plot twist came from Shonda. "It provided...a tremendous amount of conversation. She's a master at creating buzz for her shows."

--Musical comedy Galavant returned for a second season despite mediocre ratings. "The reality was it’s an adorable show," said Lee, adding that it has a passionate audience.

--Asked about the titile similarities between ABC's American Crime and FX's American Crime Story, Lee said "I should probably say nothing. But they went after us and yes we did have a conversation.”

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