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Is Warner Bros And ABC’s New TV Rights Agreement “A Turning Point” For Digital And Syndication Deals?

It gets a bit technical, but Warner Bros Television Group and ABC may have cracked the code to resolve one of the TV industry’s more vexing problems: How should program producers and networks split the rights to air TV shows as digital platforms become a bigger part of the distribution mix? They announced today a two-year deal that gives ABC broader and clearer opportunities to run WBTVG shows while they’re hot: ABC can include the shows in a TV Everywhere, subscription-based online feed of the network which the companies say is “currently under development.” The network also has right to make up to five recently aired episodes of current WBTVG programs — including The Middle, Work It, and Suburgatory – available via VOD as soon as the day after they first appear on TV. They can run on the network’s main Web sites, and Hulu, as well as an ABC-branded VOD service carried by traditional pay TV distributors. In return, WBTVG can begin syndicating series earlier than previous deals allowed: It can license serialized shows such as Gossip Girls that work well on subscription VOD services like Netflix at the end of the broadcast year in which the episodes first air. The studio also can begin syndicating sitcoms and procedural dramas to TV stations and cable networks after three years, down from four. Since WBTV is the largest independent TV … Read More »

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ABC Marketing Co-Head Steps Down

By | Friday September 10, 2010 @ 1:12pm PDT
Nellie Andreeva

New ABC Entertainment Group president Paul Lee has made his first executive move. EVP marketing Mike Benson is stepping down, leaving fellow EVP Marla Provencio as the sole head of the network’s marketing department. Lee is said to be looking to go in a new direction with the network’s marketing strategy. Benson and Provencio were named EVPs marketing for the ABC Entertainment Group in June 2009, overseeing together all marketing for ABC’s primetime and late-night programs. Benson joined ABC Entertainment in 1998 as SVP advertising and promotion. The move comes as ABC is wrapping up its fall launch marketing campaign designed to support the network’s seven new fall series.

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TCA: Steve Levitan On McPherson’s Ouster, Nathan Lane Joining ‘Modern Family’, & Chances He’ll Do A Show At Fox Again

Nellie Andreeva

Family Man: Showrunner Series Q&A Steve Levitan

During a coffee break at TCA today, Modern Family co-creator/executive producer Steve Levitan dived straight in about Steve McPherson’s sudden exit from ABC Entertainment. “My genuine reaction was this sucks. I’m sorry to hear it,” Levitan said to reporters, noting that he’s a long-time friend going back to when McPherson was a network exec on his NBC comedy Just Shoot Me. “We took Modern Family to ABC in large part because of Steve and that relationship. And because he promised us that he would launch us and support us, which he did. He’s always been a straight shooter. You knew where you stood with Steve, and I respect that. While I hear wonderful things about [McPherson replacement] Paul Lee, certainly I’m very sorry to see Steve go.”

Levitan shared the casting news that Nathan Lane has been tapped to guest star in the fall. He’ll play Cameron’s and Mitchell’s mentioned-but-never-seen flamboyant friend Pepper. Personally, I’m pretty psyched to see Lane go toe-to-toe with Eric Stonestreet’s Cameron; I always felt Cameron was modeled after Lane’s character in The Birdcage.

Levitan said he doesn’t have any immediate plans to do a show at Fox where he and Modern Family co-creator Christopher Lloyd’s previous series, Back to You, was canceled after one season. But “I’m open to the idea if they create an atmosphere that is conducive to my style of comedy,” he said.

He also wants to … Read More »

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TCA: No ‘Idol’ Judge News On Monday

Nellie Andreeva

Despite speculation about the new judges on American Idol reaching fever pitch, word is that Fox will not make any announcements at its TCA presentation Monday as previously anticipated. On the other hand, new ABC Entertainment Group president Paul Lee, who had been a question mark for ABC’s TCA session on Sunday, is now confirmed after his appointment was officially announced today.

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Steve McPherson’s Lawyer Goes On Record About “Rumors Of Internal Situations Easily Misinterpreted Or Misrepresented” At ABC

Ever since Deadline broke the news that Steve McPherson was resigning as ABC Entertainment Group President yesterday, emails have been sent to media outlets filled with rumors about his personal and/or professional behavior. Disney wouldn’t respond to Deadline’s requests for comment. But tonight, McPherson’s longtime entertainment attorney Tom Hoberman issued this statement in response to Deadline’s inquiry earlier today about allegations of possible sexual harrassment with female employees which led to an internal Disney investigation: ”Upon Steve McPherson returning to work from his vacation on Monday, he 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. That would includes rumors of internal situations which can easily be misinterpreted or misrepresented. Seems like it goes with the territory, and there is nothing further to discuss.”

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ABC Family’s Paul Lee Taking Over ABC Entertainment Group After President Steve McPherson Resigns

4TH UPDATE 6:30 PM: We’ve just confirmed that ABC Family President Paul Lee will take over as president of ABC Entertainment Group. Just like Steve McPherson, Lee will manage both ABC Entertainment and ABC Studios. “Paul Lee has had incredible success for the last 6 years and has built the ABC Family brand from scratch,” a Disney insider praised. Interesting how this all went down before the Television Critics Association’s upcoming executive sessions this week. Lee’s promotion has been imminent because of his success with original programming on the cable channel that “had a fuddy-duddy image” and was saddled with that preacher” — since Pat Robertson still controls several hours of programming time on the channel, the insider noted. “Paul made it a destination place for young and hip people.”

Like McPherson, Lee started his job as president of ABC Family in 2004 when both were appointed as part of a big restructuring across Disney’s TV divisions. Since then, the cable channel has posted six years of consecutive growth and has launched its first runaway hit, The Secret Life of American Teenager. ABC Family’s roster of shows developed under Lee’s watch also includes the channel’s first buzzworthy drama Kyle XY, established series Greek and Make It or Break It, recent additions Pretty Little Liars and Huge and the upcoming Melissa Joan Hart-Joey Lawrence comedy Melissa & Joey. Before joining ABC Family, Lee was CEO … Read More »

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Lynn Barrie and Stephanie Leifer In Talks To Head Current At ABC & ABC Studios

Nellie Andreeva

EXCLUSIVE: I hear ABC’s plan to restore the current departments on the network and studio side is moving full steam ahead, and Lynn Barrie and Stephanie Leifer are in negotiations to head the current teams on the ABC and ABC Studios side, respectively. ABC folded current into the drama and comedy development departments a year ago as part of a major executive restructuring that also saw all non-creative divisions at the network and the studio being merged. But a month ago, ABC Entertainment Group president Stephen McPherson indicated that he was considering reverting to the previous setup of separate development and current departments, especially as the network is gearing up to launch 9 new scripted series next season that will need attention in their freshman year. The move follows a similar decision by NBC last month when the network reinstated its current department under EVP Vernon Sanders. CBS and Fox have maintained dedicated current programming departments. Barrie most recently served as VP comedy series at ABC, while Leifer has been VP drama series at ABC Studios.

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