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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: 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 predecessor Stephen McPherson. Facing the press and TV critics 36 hours after being officially appointed to the job, Lee looked confident, and the sleeves of his plaid shirt were symbolically rolled up. There will be no changes to ABC’s fall launch plans, Lee said. “We’re locked and loaded. If you  make last-minute changes, you can make more damages than good. Nor is he planning to emulate ABC Family’s focus on “millennials” by making ABC skew younger. ”This is a core 18-to-49 channel,” he emphasized. Mostly Lee stuck to his talking pointsy, and, in his answers played up his status as an outsider. He also kept reverting to his previous experiences running BBC America and ABC Family and working as showrunner in the UK – rather than discussing his plans for ABC.

“There are a lot more people here than when we were trying to launch Wildfire on ABC Family,” Lee quipped as he was taking his seat on stage. He opened with a thank-you to the critics for their support through the years (smooth move). And a disclaimer. “I’m super unprepared, being in this job for 36 hours, so I apologize in advance if I don’t have all the answers.” He hardly had any. Lee’s comment on his boss, Anne … Read More »

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TCA: ABC Addresses Elephant In The Room

Nellie Andreeva

Today is ABC’s day at TCA. Of course, the abrupt resignation of Entertainment Group president Stephen McPherson on Tuesday was expected to be the predominant theme of the day. So ABC decided to tackle it head-on with an intro by Disney-ABC TV Group’s EVP communications Kevin Brockman, who walked out on stage before the first session carrying a large pink elephant plush toy. He said he would address “the elephant in the room… I realize you all may have questions. Tuesday’s statement still holds, and it is literally all we are going to say on the subject. So you may ask, but you will get the same answer… That is where we are.” Then he picked up the elephant and carried it out. Coming up: new ABC Entertainment Group President Paul Lee in his public debut since he took over the job on Friday.

Diane Haithman is contributing to Deadline’s TCA coverage.

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Steve McPherson’s Lawyer Marty Singer Faxes Letter To The Hollywood Reporter Demanding “Apology And Retraction”

EXCLUSIVE: Last night, at 9:13 PM, outgoing ABC Entertainment Group President Steve McPherson’s pit bull litigator Marty Singer faxed the following letter to The Hollywood Reporter. It accuses THR of becoming an “outrageous scandal sheet” now that former US magazine editor Janice Min and new publisher Lori Burgess are in charge. “It appears that with a new editor and publisher, THR is adopting tabloid-like behavior”. According to my own reporting, McPherson worked at Disney/ABC without any sexual harrassment-related complaints brought to the company’s attention until 2010. This year, however, one sexual harassment complaint was made by a woman against McPherson, and HR conducted an investigation. My sourcing indicates that McPherson’s resignation was voluntary and unrelated to the probe:

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Steve McPherson Hires Pit Bull Marty Singer

I hear that Steve McPherson, who resigned as ABC Entertainment Group president this week, has asked pit bull litigator Marty Singer to specifically target The Hollywood Reporter. If you haven’t noticed, the front page of THR is increasingly resembling TMZ as a Hollywood scandal sheet now that former US magazine editor Janice Min has taken over. Today, Singer issued this statement; “Steve McPherson is not going to sit back idly regarding the false & defamatory stories fueled by unknown and anonymous sources that are now appearing in the media since his resignation from ABC. He has retained Martin Singer and Lavely & Singer to deal with these defamatory stories.”

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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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