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TCA: ABC’s Paul Lee On Diversity, Cable Vs. Broadcast & ‘Trophy Wife’s Cancellation

By | Tuesday July 15, 2014 @ 12:02pm PDT
Nellie Andreeva

TCA: ABC’s Paul Lee On Diversity, Cable Vs. Broadcast & ‘Trophy Wife’s Cancellation“Is this a therapy session?,” ABC president Paul Lee asked jokingly after another long-winded question about the network’s new series. That about sums up an uneventful executive session, which also could double as a drinking game over the great number of times the words “diversity” and “specificity” were repeated. There was no mention of ABC’s ratings woes but the diversity of the network’s new slate — which includes comedies about a black family (Black-ish), Asian family (Fresh Off The Boat) and Latino family (Cristela), as well as dramas American Crime, created by John Ridley, and How To Get Away with Murder, exec produced by Shonda Rhimes and starring Viola Davis — was front and center. Asked what the tipping point was, Lee was quick to point out, “we’re not there yet,” in terms of level of diversity. “To be able to pull this off, you need not just stars on air… you need the storytellers and you need the executives to truly reflect America as it is,” he added, giving a shout-out to the network and sister studio’s diverse group of creative executives.

Lee indirectly referenced 21st Century Fox’s move to put both Fox and 20th Century Fox TV under the same leadership, Dana Walden and Gary Newman, as part of a growing trend. ABC and ABC Studios have operated that way for years, and Lee, who oversees both, praised the model. “We’ve used that combination of network and studio to develop a lot of great shows,” he said.

Asked about the perception that cable dramas are cooler than their broadcast counterparts in light of another Emmy shutout of broadcast dramas from the top category, Lee spoke in support of broadcast shows. “I’ll put American Crime or Scandal against any cable drama series,” he said. “Sometime limitations can provide you with better storytelling, and Shonda Rhimes is a beacon of that.” Read More »

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ABC Upfronts Presentation 2014 Live-Blog: Network Touts “Passion Projects” And “Raw” ‘American Crime’

By | Tuesday May 13, 2014 @ 12:37pm PDT

ABC Upfronts 2014ABC will unveil its new Shonda Rhimes Thursday in the fall, and new comedy Black-ish that got the plum post-Modern Family timeslot (though its showrunner Larry Wilmore has departed for Comedy Central where he will replace Stephen Colbert). This morning, on a phone call with reporters, ABC programming chief Paul Lee had to defend his move of Rhimes’ sexy Grey’s Anatomy to the broadcast-prudish 8 PM timeslot, as well as the cultural diversity of his new series. Let’s see how these primetime schedule moves play in Lincoln Center’s Avery Fisher Hall to advertisers — and with Jimmy Kimmel:

Upfronts2014_badgePresentation about to begin….

4:12 PM ET: Anne Sweeney gives her final pitch to advertisers as co-chair of Disney Media Networks and Disney/ABC President, while people in the hall mull her decision to quit so she can go realize her dream of becoming a TV director. She introduces her successor, Ben Sherwood. He stands in the audience and salutes her. “Ben, I think you’re going to be great and I can’t wait to see you onstage next year,” she says. “Don’t forget — I’m still a shareholder.”

Related: ABC’s New Series Trailers

4:39 PM ET: “Our shows rock — OK, that’s the upfront. Want to go to the pub?” ABC programming chief Paul Lee said opening his dog and pony show.  Least objectionable programming is dead, he said. This year, Lee says he approached “some of the greatest storytellers in the world and asked them one thing: bring us your passion project — we’ll take off the handcuffs…And in my opinion they do not disappoint.” He said the new shows include “One of most blistering pieces of raw film ever scheduled on broadcast television” but didn’t say which show he was talking about. Jumping right in to address that which had reporters’ knickers in a knot earlier in the day, Lee said his new primetime schedule “most of all reflects the already changed face of America…We set out to reflect America,” he said, as he began to talk about new Wednesday comedy Black-ish.

Related: Paul Lee Defends ‘Grey’s Anatomy’ Move To 8 PM, ‘Trophy Wife’ Cancellation

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ABC’s Paul Lee Defends ‘Grey’s Anatomy’ Move To 8 PM, Cultural Diversity Of New Series, ‘Trophy Wife’ Cancellation

By | Tuesday May 13, 2014 @ 10:51am PDT

ABC-logo-2014__140506025424-150x150PaulLee__140117213814-275x413ABC programming chief Paul Lee spent a surprising amount of time this morning on the phone trying to calm reporters whose undies seemed bunched over the move of Grey’s Anatomy to 8 PM Thursday (to make room for Shonda Rhimes new drama How To Get Away With Murder at 10 PM) and the quantity of the culturally diverse new series Lee has ordered for next season.

Related: ABC 2014 Schedule

“We wanted to reflect the changed face of America,” Lee explained, in re the new series’ cultural diversity. But his comment also applied to the many questions he took on his move of Grey’s Anatomy into the timeslot that, decades ago, was known as The Family Hour. It’s a notion that, practically speaking, ended years ago for American viewers,  thanks to the more adult original programming now available in the hour on cable and other programing platforms, and via DVR viewing, etc. But, it’s a concept to which some watchdog groups, politicians, advertisers – and reporters, apparently –  have clung. Lee noted the move was made, not to push the envelope but because the network has “stumbled” at 8 on Thursdays in the past “so this made all the sense in the world.”

Related: ABC’s New Series First Looks
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ABC PILOTS: What Is Still Alive?

By | Thursday May 8, 2014 @ 9:09pm PDT
Nellie Andreeva

After HoursABC‘s Paul Lee certainly marches to the beat of his own drum. Once again, he did not adhere to the traditional practice of early renewals. He did not renew a single series until today when he, just like last year, proceeded with a shock-and-awe campaign that resulted in 19 series — 9 new and 10 returning — being picked up in the span of one hour late at night. When the dust settled, who is still standing from ABC’s pilots? There are just a few real contenders left. On the comedy side, those are Cristela and Fresh Off The Boat from 20th Century Fox TV, which look good. On the drama, it is mystery Secrets & Lies, which has a series penalty and Ryan Phillippe and Juliette Lewis as stars. The rest are considered dead or long shots. I also hear that status of soap The Club as a 10-episode straight-to-series drama for next season, is being re-examined, though it is unclear if any change of status is possible. 

Related: 2014 ABC Pilots

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ABC President Paul Lee Signs New Contract

By | Tuesday April 15, 2014 @ 9:31am PDT
Nellie Andreeva

paulleeABC Entertainment Group president Paul Lee has finalized a new multi-year deal to remain at the helm of the broadcast network and its sibling ABC Studios. With ABC News president Ben Sherwood recently tapped to succeed Anne Sweeney as co-Chairman of Disney Media Networks and President of Disney/ABC Television Group, ABC is heading into next month’s upfronts with a top executive team in place for the next several years.

Related: Incoming Disney/ABC TV Group President Ben Sherwood On Getting The Big Job, His Learning Curve & ABC Topper Paul Lee

ABC_logo_2007Lee has faced a number of challenges during his first term, with several high-profile new series not able to take hold. His successes include Shonda Rhimes’ hot D.C. drama Scandal, fairytale drama Once Upon A Time and promising midseason entry Resurrection. Despite some inroads, ABC is expected to finish No. 4 among adults 18-49 again this season. I hear Lee’s decision to re-sign stems at least in part from his desire to see through his plan for the network’s turnaround. There are encouraging early signs about ABC’s current development, which has been getting thumbs-up within Disney. Lee is well liked by top Disney brass as well as within the Hollywood community and had been … Read More »

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Incoming Disney/ABC TV Group President Ben Sherwood On Getting The Big Job, His Learning Curve & ABC Topper Paul Lee

By | Monday March 24, 2014 @ 12:15pm PDT
Nellie Andreeva

Ben Sherwood ABC NewsIt has been a whirlwind of three months for Ben Sherwood. In December, he signed a new long-term contract with ABC News, which he had led since December 2010. Now he has been given the keys to a much bigger Disney TV kingdom, named the successor to Anne Sweeney as co-chairman, Disney Media Networks and president, Disney/ABC Television Group. “It was as quick as it seems,” Sherwood said of the hiring process. He said he learned the surprising news that Sweeney would be stepping down in February 2015 to become a TV director along with everyone else when she and Disney chairman and CEO Bob Iger made the announcement less than two weeks ago. “There was a very clear succession plan,” Sherwood said. “(Iger) had a number of conversations with people internally and reached the decision pretty quickly.” However, Sherwood acknowledges that the plan may have been hatched over the six-month period in which Iger and Sweeney had been discussing her exit before making it public.

disneyabc2Sherwood could be working with ABC Entertainment Group president Paul Lee, who had been negotiating a new contract, something Sherwood welcomes. “I’ve worked with Paul for the past few years, and I know he is an incredibly bright and talented guy,” Sherwood said. “He’s had share of hits and is primed for more, and I’m really excited about this development cycle.”

As for his own replacement atop ABC News, “we follow the same blueprint and have a robust succession process,” Sherwood said, noting that “we have a deep bench at ABC News.” He called fining a successor “a top priority.”

Related: All Eyes On James Goldston As ABC News Looks To Replace Ben Sherwood

“Honored” by the new job, Sherwood said he plans to approach it as a journalist in the next 12 months when he will be learning the ropes as a co-president (and understudy) to Disney/ABC Television Group alongside Sweeney. “I have a great deal of curiosity, and, as a journalist, I’ll be asking a lot of questions, I’ll be digging deep and learning a lot.” He has ideas he wants to bring to the job overseeing a portfolio of networks but declined to share them. “I approach this with humility, and I think it would presumptuous for me to lay out particular ideas,” he said. Read More »

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Ben Sherwood To Succeed Anne Sweeney As Disney/ABC Television Group President, ABC’s Paul Lee Closing In On New Contract

By | Monday March 24, 2014 @ 10:02am PDT
Nellie Andreeva

SHERWOOD-articleLargeABC News president Ben Sherwood cemented his status as Disney’s golden TV boy as he has been appointed a successor to Anne Sweeney. Sherwood will assume the title of co-chairman, Disney Media Networks and president, Disney/ABC Television Group on February 1, 2015, a day after Entertainment Weekly And ABC-TV Celebrate The New York Upfronts - ArrivalsSweeney ends her 10-year run in the same post. ABC Entertainment Group president Paul Lee is expected to finalize a new multi-year contract, ensuring the network’s stability at the top heading into next month’s upfronts. Sherwood’s appointment comes after a short search, with the news wiz considered an early frontrunner as Disney again looked within ranks for the next top executive hire.

Related: Anne Sweeney’s Legacy: Her Hits & Misses

Sherwood will begin the transition as Co-President, Disney/ABC Television Group alongside Sweeney immediately, while also continuing to oversee ABC News until a successor is named. “Ben is one of those unique executives who combine rich creative experience with great business acumen,” Disney chairman and CEO Bob Iger said. “He’s also focused, strategic, and competitive, as evidenced by the success of GMA, the Yahoo deal that delivered ABC News online dominance, and his vision behind our new cable and digital joint venture, Fusion. These reasons, and many others, make Ben the ideal candidate to oversee the future of the Disney/ABC Television Group.”

Related: All Eyes On James Goldston As ABC News Looks To Replace Ben Sherwood

While Sherwood’s career trajectory resembles that of Jeff Zucker, who also transitioned from the No. 1 morning program, Today, to running NBC (they both also went to Harvard), observers point out that Sherwood also has entertainment experience. He took a break from the news business and became a best-selling author, with his novel The Death And Life Of Charlie St. Cloud turned into a studio feature. Still, it was Sherwood’s accomplishments as head of the ABC News division that propelled him to the reins of Disney’s entire non-sports TV portfolio. Among them is leading Good Morning America to No. 1, brokering a successful online partnership with Yahoo to and launching Fusion, a joint venture news and lifestyle network with Univision. “Over the years, he has moved from success-to-success, and helped create a more vibrant, collaborative and powerful news division that embraces innovation and risk-taking,” Sweeney said. “Ben’s now set to bring those same attributes to bear for the larger group, and I could not be more thrilled. This announcement simply highlights the fact that our talent and succession planning process works.” Read More »

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TCA: Paul Lee “Gradulist” In Pilot Strategy; Addresses Struggles With ‘Lucky 7′, ‘Wonderland’, ‘Killer Women’, ‘The Assets’

By | Friday January 17, 2014 @ 1:22pm PST
Nellie Andreeva

ABC‘s Paul Lee took a middle road when asked about his take on Fox’s plan to abandon pilot season to focus its development on series. TCA “I am a gradualist,” Lee said during the network’s executive session at TCA. “We are gradually moving forward, (evolving) the model.” He pointed to projects like new drama Black Box, which the network picked up straight to series and took months to cast in the vein of what Fox is looking to do, and he also agreed with the comments CBS’ Nina Tassler made inEntertainment Weekly And ABC-TV Celebrate The New York Upfronts - Arrivals support of the traditional pilot season model as “the pressure and the deadlines have worked extremely well.” Lee shared how, while still in his native UK, he looked up to the American system and admired its ability to produce such large volume of content in such limited time frames. He singled out freshmen Marvel’s Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D. and The Goldbergs, indicating that they will very likely be renewed. Of the older shows, Once Upon A Time, Revenge and Nashville got Lee’s stamp of approval (along with shoo-ins Grey’s Anatomy, Scandal, Modern Family, The Middle and Castle.)

Related: TCA: Producers Weigh Straight-To-Series Process For ‘The Black Box’

There were a lot of “What went wrong?” questions during the session, understandable given the rough sledding ABC has had with most of its new shows including Lucky 7, Once Upon A Time, Betrayal, Killer Women and The Assets. Wonderland was originally envisioned to serve as a bridge between the fall and spring portions of Once Upon A Time, and instead launched in the fall in the difficult Thursday 8 PM slot. In hindsight, “I should’ve done that,” Lee said about sticking with the original plan. “We knew theabclogo creative was great, and didn’t want to be defensive on Thursday, we wanted to be offensive.” Lee said a decision on the future of Wonderland will be made soon, alluding that, even if Wonderland is not renewed, characters from it could migrate to Once. Lee called The Assets, which hailed from ABC News, “a great experiment,” a great model developed by the news division to develop entertainment programming with ties to real events. “We are going to continue with that experiment even though the show didn’t work.” On Lucky 7, whose original worked well in the UK, British-born Lee agreed with a critic that “English people enjoy other people’s misery,” but suggested that the drama, which aired at 10 PM, “would’ve done better at 8 PM.” “It was an excellent piece of television… but it didn’t resonate,” he said.

Related: ABC Sets ‘Black Box’ Premiere, ‘Dancing’ Return Date, Moves Up ‘Mind Games’ Debut Read More »

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‘Dancing With The Stars’ At A Casting Crossroads

By | Thursday August 29, 2013 @ 9:30am PDT

ABC needs to get two things right this fall: 1) Launch Marvel’s Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D.; 2) Relaunch Dancing With The Stars. The first one looks to be a slam dunk, given the anticipatory gushing over the series, and creator Joss Whedon, going on in the press and on fan sites. The second, however, is far from a sure thing — especially after the last fall’s disastrous all-star edition.

The veteran dance competition lives or dies based on its celebrity casting, and the producers botched it pretty thoroughly in both editions last season. Ratings plunged to an all-time low as the show competed against NBC’s The Voice for the first time in the fall with the all-star edition. Turned out, ABC Entertainment President Paul Lee acknowledged recently, viewers don’t want to see celebrities who can dance well competing — they want to see celebrities who can’t dance well, learning their right foot from their left. This had escaped the network and producers until it was too late. Any hope of real recovering in the spring edition fell flat with that edition’s limp cast. Andy Dick — really? Not surprisingly, the reality series only climbed back up to its second-worst numbers ever, though, yes, up is up.

Related: CNN To Launch Overhauled ‘Crossfire’ Same Night ABC Launches Overhauled ‘Dancing With The Stars’
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‘Grey’s Anatomy’ Star Leaving, But It’s Oh, Not Dempsey

By | Tuesday August 13, 2013 @ 3:34pm PDT

Bad news for ABC — better news maybe for Ellen Pompeo and Patrick Dempsey: Sandra Oh has announced she’s leaving Grey’s Anatomy at the end of the ABC drama’s upcoming 10th season. “It’s been a great privilege to play the character of Cristina Yang on GA and I am both sad and excited to see where this, her final season will take her,” Oh said in this afternoon’s statement, calling it an emotional and “deeply creative decision” to leave.

Pompeo and Dempsey’s contracts also are up at the end of the coming season, and ABC presumably won’t want any more of the series majors to exit. That’s always a good bargaining position. Dempsey made news the recent Summer TCA Press Tour, when he told a ballroom full of press — while promoting a car-racing show for Velocity network called Patrick Dempsey: Racing Le Mans – that his passion in life is car racing, and acting is what he does to support that habit. Some mention may have been made of the redundancy of Grey’s storylines. Eyebrows around the room shot up. And a few days later, at the Press Tour, the reporters asked ABC programming chief Paul Lee if Dempsey was leaving and/or Grey’s was toast after this season. Lee responded, emphatically — as did ABC today in the wake of Oh’s announcement — that ABC intended to have the steamy doc drama on the primetime lineup “for many years.” At that time, Lee said he would not discuss possible cast changes — the press assumed he was talking about Dempsey — because he didn’t want to be yelled at by show creator Shonda Rhimes.

Read More »

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TCA: ABC Programming Chief Paul Lee Jumps The Sharks

By | Sunday August 4, 2013 @ 12:16pm PDT

TCA Awards 2013ABC programming chief Paul Lee is jumping on the shark bandwagon, announcing this morning his network has scheduled Shark Tank Week for the week of Sept. 8. ABC will not plow through five original episodes of the Mark Burnett-produced reality competition franchise, Lee told TV critics, who’d given the show their TCA Award for best reality series the previous night. Instead Shark Tank Week is merely a re-packaging of five fan-fave repeats. One of the show’s sharks, Mark Cuban, already has been signed to guest on Discovery Channel’s Shark After Dark  late night show as part of its Shark Week. Lee declined – twice – to discuss the scheduling of Shark Tank Week to coincide with NBC’s live Ryan Seacrest-hosted game show Million Second Quiz, during Lee’s Q&A this morning at TCA Summer TV Press Tour 2013.

Lee also declined to take a whack at Netflix for not releasing any viewing stats on House of Cards  – a leitmotif of this summer’s press tour. Lee went with “competition is good.” Critics asked Lee loads of micro-questions about his network’s plans – unveiled in May at the upfronts – to air “a selected group” of dramas in two uninterrupted runs, one in the fall and one in the spring, bridged by limited series. But ABC’s new Once Upon A Time spinoff, Once Upon a Time: Wonderland  — originally announced as a bridge show between the Once Up on a Time’s fall and spring seasons, has instead been scheduled in the fall on Thursday nights because “We just fell in love with it,” and “it’s a rabbit hole I wanted to go down for the full season.”

Plus, he noted, “We were looking to build a real block on Thursday of Empowered Women [Drinking Game!] on Thursday nights. This is Alice like you have never seen before. She’s a truly kick-ass Alice,” he said.  And by ‘empowered, kick-ass Alice,’ he means an Alice who’s saved from “a doomed fate” by the White Rabbit and a handsome genie with whom she’s in love, who Lewis Carroll forgot to mention in his original story. Female Empowerment Thursday on ABC includes Alice in peril, Grey’s Anatomy, and Scandal. Read More »

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Barry Jossen Leaving ABC Studios, Patrick Moran Taking Over

By | Wednesday July 17, 2013 @ 3:15pm PDT

Barry Jossen, exec vp at ABC Studios, the guy who ran day-to-day operations at ABCS, is “returning to his career as an award-winning producer with a production deal with ABC Studios,” ABC said today. That wasn’t ABC’s headline: The headline was that ABC Entertainment Group president Paul Lee is promoting Channing Dungey, Samie Falvey and Patrick Moran, each to EVP. Moran, who had been SVP Drama Development, now will run ABC Studios, with all creative and production operations will report to him. He’s taking Jossen’s place. Jossen had this to say: “During the course of the past year, I have given a lot of thought about what I want to do next due to television’s changing landscape. For me, it seemed best to get out of the day-to-day operational work of overseeing ABC Studios. I plan to return to producing and am considering a number of other opportunities that have come my way. I love my colleagues at ABC Studios and have been quietly preparing them for success as they transition into their new positions.” Dungey, who was SVP Drama Development, adds movies and miniseries to her purview. Falvey, formerly SVP Comedy Development, adds international scripted development to her comedy responsibilities. Read ABC’s statement after the jump:

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ABC To Air Some Dramas In Two Batches Of 12 Episodes Next Season

By | Tuesday May 14, 2013 @ 9:32am PDT
Nellie Andreeva

ABC is changing things up in scheduling some of its serialized dramas. Taking a page from the cable model, the network will air what ABC president Paul Lee called “a selected group” of dramas in two uninterrupted runs, one in the fall and one in the spring, bridged by limited series. The series that will follow the new scheduling pattern include Once Upon A Time, Grey’s Anatomy, Scandal and likely Revenge, with others TBD. So far, the network only has set up a bridge series for Once, new adventure reality series The Quest. Lee said such bridge series won’t necessarily be all unscripted. Two cycles of 12 episodes would bring the total orders for the shows to 24, which is hard on a complex, serialized drama, but Lee indicated that number has not been set in stone. He said that the network is looking to further shake up the traditional broadcast scheduling model with “quality launches” throughout the season. Lee also said that new fall drama Betrayal is designed as a limited series, airing 12-13 episodes a season. The same applies to midseason drama Resurrection, which will replace it in the Sunday 10 PM slot in midseason.

Related: ABC 2013-14 Schedule Read More »

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ABC’s Paul Lee: “We Have A Lot To Do”: TCA

By | Thursday January 10, 2013 @ 1:46pm PST
Nellie Andreeva

ABC‘s successful fairytale drama Once Upon A Time is all about the juxtaposition of good and bad and so were the opening remarks of the network’s topper Paul Lee at TCA today. “We have a lot to shout about and a lot to do,” Lee started off with. On the bright side, Lee touted ABC’s success with sophomore shows, including Scandal, which Lee said “is rocking and rolling,” and Once Upon A Time, as well as making “a great first step with family comedies on Friday.”

Related: ‘Mistresses’ Producers Mull How To “Break The Rules”: TCA

On the disappointment side: the soft ratings for the all-star edition of Dancing With The Stars (“We found out people like to see bad dancing as much as they like to see good dancing,” Lee said), and freshman drama Nashville‘s inability to connect with wider audiences off the bat despite very strong 18-34 ratings. Add to that the disappointing ratings performance of ABC’s other freshman dramas, Last Resort and 666 Park Ave, both of which have been cancelled. “I was disappointed that there have been no big breakout hits on any networks this fall, not just ABC,” Lee said, discounting NBC’s drama Revolution and the CW’s hot rookie Arrow.

Related: ABC’s ‘Shark Tank’ “Embodies The American Dream”, Says Producer: TCA Read More »

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Paul Lee On ‘Modern Family’, Decision To Stay At ABC, Multicam Comedy: TCA

By | Friday July 27, 2012 @ 11:37am PDT
Nellie Andreeva

At ABC’s executive session this morning ABC chief Paul Lee fielded questions about the state of the cast salary renegotiations on Modern Family, which have been difficult and resulted in a lawsuit and a table read rescheduling this week. “I expect the season to start on time,” Lee said. “We are in the middle of negotiations, and we’re hopeful and optimistic we will be able to resolve it”. While negotiations are led by Modern Family producer 20th Century Fox TV, “we are with 20th in this, we are full partners”, Lee said. I hear Lee and ABC’s head of business affairs Jana Winograde have been very involved in the process. The network will take over production cost for the show in a couple of years.

Related: Are ‘Modern Family’ Actors Nearing Salary Agreement?

Lee also was asked about the top BBC job that he was reportedly offered but didn’t pursue. “I’m living the dream why would I”, Lee said. “I have one of the best jobs in television, I love this job. I’ve been in the U.S. for 15 years, and my sons are American, my family are Americans. I love ABC, it’s a brand I’m loyal to”‘.

Despite the fact that ABC’s schedule only features two multicamera comedies next season, Last Man Standing and Malibu Country, both on Friday, Lee reaffirmed the network’s commitment to the multicamera genre and confirmed that ABC will be “re-piloting” its multi-camera pilot  from this past season, Kings Of Van Nuys, which is based on one of Lee’s favorite British series, Only Fools And Horses. The pilot script has now been reworked, and deals are being made with the entire original cast, led by John Leguizamo, to return. Read More »

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“Smart Is The New Mainstream” For TV, ABC Entertainment’s Paul Lee Says

By | Monday June 11, 2012 @ 9:12am PDT

“Storytelling itself has changed because our viewers have changed,” ABC Entertainment Group president Paul Lee said this morning at his opening presentation for the Banff World Media Festival in Canada. ”Smart is the new mainstream….If the message of 20 years ago was famously never over-estimate the intelligence of the public, I think the message of today should be never under-estimate the intelligence of the public.” ABC has responded by promoting shows such as Once Upon A Time, Revenge and Suburgatory. They worked while “the not-so-smart shows that I did? Well, I needn’t mention Charlie’s Angels anymore….I like to call my brand ‘smart with heart’.” He says that while television has long offered smart shows, in the past “they were the exception, now they’re the rule.” With Once Upon A Time, he says the producers effectively straddle the demands of high and low culture. It’s also helped by green-screen technology that enables producers to use computers to generate a cinematic look without the need for extravagant sets and location shots. ABC initially ran into trouble when it promoted the show as a procedural. But when it began to sell it like a movie, “awareness shot through the roof.” ABC took a chance to build interest by putting the show online ahead of the TV premiere. “We found that presampling the whole show online can actually create enough buzz, enough conversation, enough excitement to drive higher, not lower linear numbers at launch.”

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Jimmy Kimmel Skewers ABC, NBC, CBS, Fox & The Kardashains At ABC’s Upfront

By | Tuesday May 15, 2012 @ 1:32pm PDT
Nellie Andreeva

ABC Upfronts 2012On the heels of beating Jay Leno for the first time in-season last week and marking his 10th anniversary in late-night, Jimmy Kimmel returned to headline ABC’s upfront presentation today older if not wiser. Kimmel was introduced by a video featuring celebrities congratulating him on his anniversary, including Tom Cruise, Cameron Diaz, stars of ABC series and the Kardashian sisters. Kimmel started off by thanking the Kardashians for taking time “from their busy schedule of having sex with the Minnesota Timberwolves.”

Kimmel skewered ABC entertainment president Paul Lee for putting panned cross-dressing comedy Work It on the air last season. “Remember last year that show Work It? You know we were kidding, right? The fact that Paul Lee greenlit that should tell you everything you need to know about what Brits think about us.”

Related: ABC First Look Teasers: 2012-13 New Shows

On Lee, who was reportedly approached for the top job at the BBC. “He decided to stay. In the end, ABC has something that BBC would never have: dental.”

On ABC shows: “Dancing With The Stars is still going strong-ish. Last night I was watching the show, fell asleep fell off the couch and hit my head on the floor. And for the first time this season, I actually saw stars.” On ABC’s upcoming all-stars edition of Dancing: “Dancing With The Stars All Stars — how many times can we lie to you in a single title.” Also, “The upcoming Duets is unlike any other singing competition show… assuming you haven’t seen any other singing competition show.”

Related: 2012-13 ABC Schedule: Comedy Block On Friday, ‘Revenge’ Gets ‘Housewives’ Slot

Some of Kimmel’s shots at other networks:

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ABC Sets All-Star ‘Dancing With The Stars’

By | Tuesday May 15, 2012 @ 9:12am PDT
Nellie Andreeva

Dancing With The Stars All-StarThe upcoming cycle of Dancing With The Stars will be an all-star edition, ABC president Paul Lee announced during the network’s press call this morning. “We’re bringing fan favorites from the past 14 seasons,” Lee said. He added that casting has already started but wouldn’t elaborate on which former celebrity contestants the network is targeting. The move comes after steep declines for the venerable reality franchise this season.

Related: 2012-13 ABC Schedule: Comedy Block On Friday, ‘Revenge’ Gets ‘Housewives’ Slot

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ABC’s Paul Lee Staying Put, Not Considering Top BBC Job

By | Wednesday May 2, 2012 @ 1:01pm PDT
Nellie Andreeva

ABC Entertainment Group president Paul Lee is not going anywhere. A Variety report out of London about interest in the British-born ABC executive for the soon-to-be-vacant position of director general of the BBC got the town buzzing as the news comes while Lee and his team are deep in pilot screenings only two weeks before Lee is slated to pitch ABC’s schedule for next season to advertisers at the network’s upfront presentation. It is true that Lee is one of a number of British executives on the list of the BBC headhunters, but ABC sources stress that the overture to him was one-way, that Lee is under contract and has no intention of leaving. “He was approached because he is British, and so were others,” one source said. It would be an awkward timing for Lee to leave as he’s doing pretty well — he has been in the job for less that two years and his first development season delivered more successful new shows than any other network: Once Upon A Time, Suburgatory and Revenge are certain to be renewed, and midseason entry Don’t Trust The B— In Apt. 23 looks good too. So it looks like Jimmy Kimmel will not have to do a last-minute rewrite of his traditional roast, a highlight of ABC’s upfront.

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