At ABC’s TCA executive session, president Paul Lee announced that new midseason comedy Don’t Trust The B—- In Apartment 23 will launch on April 11 on Wednesday after Modern Family. Shonda Rhimes’ new drama Scandal will also premiere April 5 in the post-Grey’s Anatomy Thursday 10 PM slot. “We are using our No. 1 drama to push the launch of Scandal, and we are using our No. 1 comedy to push the launch of Don’t Trust The B—,” Lee said. Don’t Trust will succeed Happy Endings, which will have ended its sophomore run, while Scandal will take over Private Practice, which will get a four-week trial after Dancing With The Stars. There is still no slot for Cougar Town, through Lee hinted that they “have an idea” where the third-year comedy will go. Its tentative return date is in March. “I think when we launch it, we’ll bring a big strong message that we love that show,” Lee said. As for Cougar Town‘s long-term prospects, Lee said it factors into a “dream” he has about one day bringing together the “group of young irreverent comedies” the network has in Happy Endings, Cougar Town and the upcoming Apartment 23. Back in May, ABC announced plans to extend its new Tuesday 8-9 PM comedy block to 10 PM between the two cycles of Dancing With The Stars, with Cougar Town and Apartment 23 taking over the Dancing result show. But the network dropped the plan following the breakout success of Fox’s New Girl in the Tuesday 9 PM slot, Lee said after the panel. Lee also talked about ABC’s strategy of staggering its fall and midseason launches. “Maybe I’m slightly in the cable model, but my job is not to launch a week’s television, my job is to bring great television and spend a year launching it.”
Other highlights from ABC’s executive session:
Lee’s opening line: “What do you think of Work It?” Surprisingly, the cross-dressing comedy, which became such a lightening rod during Lee’s TCA last summer was barely touched upon this time. Lee was asked again about his rational behind picking up the low-brow comedy, which clashes with the network’s brand of sophisticated shows. “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.” As for the campaign waged by some LGBT advocacy groups claiming that the comedy was offensive to transgender people, “I don’t find it to be offensive, I didn’t get it,” Lee said.
ABC is mounting a big push for midseason horror drama The River, which the network plans to preview around the country with screenings in movie theaters, college campuses, etc. to spread word of mouth. Lee said that the network did the same with rookie Suburgatory and other fall shows and is planning to employ the strategy for future series too.
Lee declined to address the status of negotiations with the stars of Grey’s Anatomy whose contracts are up at the end of the season but sounded optimistic about the feature of the veteran medical drama. “Grey’s came roaring back this season, and Shonda has a vision like nobody else, so it’s really, really strong.”
ABC will not be rushing to make a decision on the future of its only remaining daytime drama General Hospital in light of the September launch of Katie Couric’s new daytime talk show in the soap’s time slot. “Maybe this year, maybe next year,” Lee said. “It depends on how the other shows (The Chew and The Revolution) do, so again, not a decision we’ll have to make immediately.”
Lee on introducing 2 new series with “bitch” in the title (though neither is spelled out), Don’t Trust The B—- In Apartment 23 and GCB: “Don’t Trust is is show with so much attitude…we felt it reflected the irreverence and the outrage of the show. GCB, which officially stands for Good Christian Belles (he laughs) also reflects the irreverence of the show. But it’s not a word that we can use in broadcast for our titles. It happens to be we have two, but we’re spreading them out for a couple of months.”
TV Editor Nellie Andreeva - tip her here.