Paul Lee Makes Executive Changes: John Saade To Head Alternative, Vicki Dummer To Run Current, Patrick Moran Upped At Studio

By | Friday June 17, 2011 @ 12:15pm PDT
Nellie Andreeva

ABC Entertainment Group president Paul Lee has made his expected post-upfront move, reshuffling the executive teams at the network and the studio, with promotions/new roles for John Saade, Vicki Dummer, Patrick Moran, Amy Hartwick and Lynn Barrie.

After months of speculations that Lee won’t keep ABC’s dual leadership structure of the alternative department with the contracts of co-heads John Saade and Vicki Dummer coming up, Lee is indeed going go for a single head of the department. But unlike the last summer changes in the marketing department where one of the co-heads, Mike Benson, stepped down, both Saade and Dummer will be staying at ABC. John Saade, former SVP Alternative Series and Specials & Late-Night, is being promoted to EVP Alternative Series & Late Night Programming, overseeing solo all of ABC’s primetime alternative/reality series and Jimmy Kimmel Live. This is the title Saade and Dummer’s predecessor Andrea Wong held before leaving for Lifetime. Read More »

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Final Thoughts On The Broadcast Upfronts: Wind Of Change

Nellie Andreeva

Exactly 20 years ago, German rock band Scorpions released Wind of Change, which became an anthem for our generation of young Eastern Europeans going through a dramatic political change: the fall of communism. Coming back from the broadcast upfront presentations in New York last week, I’ve been having a hard time getting the catchy tune out of my head. While less far-reaching and profound, there is a clear sense of changing of the guard and a new direction for the broadcast networks this year. I can’t remember a time where the majority of the networks had new heads at their upfront presentations. Paul Lee took over for Steve McPherson at ABC, Bob Greenblatt for Jeff Gaspin and Angela Bromstad at NBC, and Mark Pedowitz is succeeding Dawn Ostroff at the CW. There is a similar changing of the guard among the top TV producers this year. Upstart Chernin Entertainment and DreamWorks TV, which is re-entering the broadcast arena, topped the pods with the most new series, three each, with another recently launched company, Aaron Kaplan’s Kapital Entertainment, scoring two new shows. And in its first season, Marty Adelstein and Shawn Levy’s 21 Laps/Adelstein one pilot, Tim Allen’s Last Man Standing, picked up to pilot, with another, Fox’s Family Album, in serious contention. Meanwhile, such longtime upfront fixtures as Jerry Bruckheimer TV, Mark Gordon Co. and Wonderland didn’t land any new series for next season. Read More »

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Upfronts: Live-Blogging ABC Presentation

Nellie Andreeva

ABC Unveils 2011-12 Schedule: New Comedy Block On Tuesday With Tim Allen

When he took the stage for his first ABC upfront presentation, the network’s new president Paul Lee was quick to bring up the event’s main attraction. “When Anne Sweeney called me about this job, I asked myself, ‘Do I really want to be humiliated by Jimmy Kimmel in front of hundreds of people?’ The answer was: ‘Absolutely’ ”

Right away, Lee, who was visibly nervous, branded the network’s new lineup “pure entertainment,” so he began presenting ABC’s fall schedule with Thursday night, showcasing new 8 PM anchor Charlie’s Angels. “I’ve wanted to remake Charlie’s Angels since I was 14,” Lee said. He explained the decision to schedule the remake Thursdays at 8 PM with the fact that it will be the only scripted drama in the slot (besides CW).

Tim Allen was on hand to promote his new ABC comedy Last Man Standing. “It’s about a man in a women’s world. Its original name was The Paul Lee Story.” That was not the only jab at his new boss. “You can dump the accent, you got the job,” he told British-born Lee.

After the clip for ABC’s new cross-dressing comedy Work It, Lee justified his decision to pick up the show with, “So sue me, I’m a Brit,” segueing to “Talking about cross-dressing, here’s Jimmy Kimmel.”

Kimmel was his usual irreverent self. Here are some of his top barbs: Read More »

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The Striking Similarities Between Greenblatt & Lee’s New Series Picks: Female Shows, Fairy Tale & 1960s Dramas, Lotsa Comedies

By | Saturday May 14, 2011 @ 4:38pm PDT
Nellie Andreeva

They’re both about to take the stage for their first upfront presentations as broadcast network chiefs. But NBC chairman Bob Greenblatt and ABC president Paul Lee share a lot more similarities in their first pilot seasons, especially in their new series choices.

Both opted to go with a predominantly female-skewing drama slate, a change in direction for both networks. Last year, the most heavily touted new drama series at NBC’s upfront presentation was the male-friendly sci-fi thriller The Event. This time, that honor will likely go to the Broadway-themed and heavily female-skewing Smash, with another high-profile new drama, Playboy Club, also testing predominantly female. Last year, Lee’s predecessor Steve McPherson bet on the superhero drama No Ordinary Family and male cop procedural Detroit 1-8-7. Now Lee is going with female hero action series Charlie’s Angeles and female soaps like Good Christian Belles and Revenge. (While passing on several male-oriented drama pilots such as sci-fi cop show 17th Precinct, Western Reconstruction and crime/political saga Metro, NBC picked up one male-friendly new series, the Inception-style Awake, while ABC passed on Poe and Identity to order only one new drama with a male lead, The River, but it is in the horror genre that strongly appeals to women.)

Also, both Greenblatt and Lee picked up drama series set in the 1960s and built around an iconic brand with NBC’s The Playboy Club and ABC’s Pan Am. What are the odds of two such shows hitting the broadcast networks’ schedules at the same time?! But there is more: both Greenblatt and Lee also picked up dramas that exploit fairy tales by the brothers Grimm, NBC’s Grimm and ABC’s Once Upon a Time which features such classic brothers Grimm characters as Snow White and Prince Charming. Both Greenblatt and Lee ordered remakes of famous TV series, Prime Suspect and Charlie’s Angels, respectively, as well as character-driven dramas with a female lead played by a well known movie actress – Prime Suspect with Maria Bello and Scandal with Karry Washington. Moreover, neither of them picked up a straight procedural, with Lee passing on both Identity and Partners, while the closest Greenblatt got to one was the very character-driven Prime Suspect. Greenblatt and Lee also were the only network chiefs to order pilots featuring musical numbers, Smash and ABC’s Grace, though the latter didn’t make the schedule. Read More »

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ABC’s EVP Suzanne Patmore-Gibbs Exits

By | Friday March 25, 2011 @ 11:40am PDT
Nellie Andreeva

EXCLUSIVE: Suzanne Patmore-Gibbs, EVP scripted creative for the ABC Entertainment Group, is leaving the company. The decision was made by ABC Entertainment Group president Paul Lee, who is eliminating the position as part of his effort … Read More »

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Greg Berlanti Back At Warner Bros. Television With Mega Deal

Nellie Andreeva

EXCLUSIVE: After 5 years at ABC Studios, Greg Berlanti is returning to Warner Bros. TV. The top showrunner has signed a four-year overall deal with Warner Bros. TV of the scale of the studio’s top-tier pacts with such writer-producers as … Read More »

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Paul Lee: Network TV Is Risky Business

By | Monday January 10, 2011 @ 2:55pm PST
Nellie Andreeva

Paul Lee is going to take creative risks, and he is going to empower showrunners, the new ABC president said during the network’s portion of TCA today where he also defined the ABC brand as he sees it: “a smart network with a huge amount of heart and culturally defining shows”

“My real ambition is to make ABC Studios and ABC a real showrunner culture,” Lee said, stressing the fact that he is an ex-showrunner himself.  “From my perspective, the ability to allow showrunners to take risks, and for us to give them the air support that they can do that, is one of the most important parts of my job… So from my perspective, that combination between a potent brand and empowered showrunners can really give us a chance to succeed going forward into the future.”

Early in the morning, ABC announced the early renewal of 6 series, Modern Family, The Middle, Cougar Town, Grey’s Anatomy, Private Practice and Castle. Lee said he wasn’t concerned by the big ratings dropoff for Cougar Town after Modern Family, stressing that the sophomore comedy starring Courteney Cox “has found its voice.”

Unlike the same time last year when Modern Family, The Middle and Cougar Town were handed early renewals, today’s pickup announcement didn’t include any freshman shows, which have largely underperformed. Two first-year shows received praise from Lee. He called Detroit 1-8-7, “a gritty, brilliantly written show which we’re very proud of”, a “very, very high-quality show” that “gets better” and Better with You “a really funny show.” But Lee said he doesn’t expect the network to make any decisions on the future of its freshman shows “for two to three months.” Read More »

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ABC Developing 8-Hour ‘Wicked’ Miniseries Produced by Salma Hayek

By | Sunday January 9, 2011 @ 4:23pm PST
Nellie Andreeva

ABC is looking to get back in the event mini-series business with Wicked, an eight-hour mini-series produced by Salma Hayek, TVLine‘s Michael Ausiello reports. The project is not based on the highly-successful Broadway musical but on Gregory … Read More »

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HRTS Network Chiefs Lunch: A Star Is Born

Nellie Andreeva

ABC’s new chief Paul Lee charmed a room full of industry types at the Hollywood Radio and TV Society’s network chiefs luncheon today, which was otherwise pretty uneventful. Three months into the job, he looked confident and relaxed, stretching … 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 … Read More »

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Michael Riley Named ABC Family President

Nellie Andreeva

UPDATED: Disney/ABC TV Group president Anne Sweeney once again looked within the company to replace outgoing ABC Family president Paul Lee. A month after tapping Lee to take over ABC and ABC Studios as president of ABC Entertainment Group, she has picked Radio Disney GM Michael Riley as the new president of ABC Family. In addition to Lee’s promotion, Sweeney previously recruited a veteran Disney TV executive, Carolina Lightcap, to succeed Rich Ross as head of Disney Channels Worldwide. Just like Lightcap, Riley does not have domestic cable TV experience but he worked in Turner Broadcasting’s international divisions. I hear Riley impressed Disney/ABC brass with his accomplishments at Turner. Considered a future star executive, he was brought into the company fold and given the job that was available at the moment, heading Disney Radio, with the idea that he would eventually be moved to another position. Sweeney reportedly interviewed both internal and external candidates for the top ABC Family job but Riley’s background and his successful run at Disney radio ultimately sealed the deal for him.”He has good business and creative sense, and he is good at building and shepherding brands,” one insider said. Here is the official announcement: Read More »

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RATINGS RAT RACE: Strong Demo Debut For ABC Family’s ‘Melissa & Joey’, Series Highs for USA Network’s ‘Covert Affairs’

Nellie Andreeva

Paul Lee’s tenure at ABC Family is ending on a high note. The last new series ordered under the former ABC Family president and current ABC Entertainment Group president, comedy Melissa & Joey, premiered last night as ABC Family’s biggest ever series debut among adults 18-49, 1.3 million. … Read More »

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TCA: New ABC Chief Paul Lee Makes Debut

Nellie Andreeva

For a guy who confessed that as a Brit he is way too self-conscious to dance, new ABC Family Entertainment Group president Paul Lee did a pretty good job tap dancing around the controversial issues surrounding the departure of his … Read More »

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TOLDJA! Disney Names ABC Family’s Paul Lee To ABC Entertainment Group President

The Network Builder: Former War Reporter Paul Lee
ABC Family’s Paul Lee Taking Over ABC Entertainment Group

Read More »

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The Network Builder: Former War Reporter Paul Lee Goes For a Three-peat At ABC

Nellie Andreeva

There is one element in Paul Lee’s background that in my opinion makes him well equipped for his new job as ABC Entertainment Group president. It’s not his 6-year tenure as president of ABC Family, he will find soon enough … Read More »

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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 … Read More »

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