Press Tour '12 Live-Blog: ABC Executive Session with Paul Lee

Expect 'Work It,' 'Cougar Town' and 'Desperate Housewives' chatter

<p>ABC Entertainment President Paul Lee</p>
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ABC Entertainment President Paul Lee

Credit: ABC

Will ABC have anything controversial or exciting to talk about at Tuesday (January 10) morning's Television Critics Association press tour panel?

Only one way to find out...

Click through for the full live-blog...

9:03 a.m. "Good morning, everybody. So what did you think of 'Work It'?" ABC Entertainment President Paul Lee says, beginning his panel. To describe the laughter as "half-hearted" would be generous.

9:05 a.m. "It's sexy, it's sticky, it's more-ish," Lee says of his love for "Revenge." It was a good fall for ABC, Lee says.

9:07 a.m. Midseason will also be good, Lee says. He's particularly high on "The River" and "GCB" and "Missing." Lee says that "Scandal" will premiere in early April and will air on Thursdays after "Grey's Anatomy." Lee also describes "Scandal" as "sticky" and "sexy."

9:09 a.m. "The B---- in Apartment 23" will premiere in April and will get the "Modern Family" lead-in on Wednesday nights.

9:09 a.m. Lee insists the network hasn't saved all of its heavy-hitters for midseason, but he points out that with the Oscars, ABC has a big launch-pad in midseason and that midseason is a better place for shows to stand out in a smaller crowd. "I think my job isn't to launch a week's television," Lee says.

9:10 a.m. First "Cougar Town" question! Lee promises that when "Cougar Town" launches, they'll promote it and that the show will tentatively premiere in March. Lee praises the "pirate" job that Bill Lawrence has done in stirring up the audience for his show. "I think 'Cougar Town' is great. We have a good launch pad for it," Lee says. Lee fantasizes "Cougar Town," "Happy Endings" and "Apt.23" might be a young comedy block in the future. He promises a premiere announcement will come soon.

9:12 a.m. "On broadcast, it turns out it's not a word you want to use in the title," Lee says of his two spring shows that used to have the word "bitch" in the title, but don't anymore. He thinks that even without using the word "bitch," the titles of "Apt.23" and "GCB" reflect the show's irreverence.

9:13 a.m. When "Apt. 23" and "Scandal" premiere in April, that will mark the season end to the "Happy Endings" season, while "Private Practice" will shift to a different night to see if it can stand alone without its "Grey's Anatomy" lead-in.

9:15 a.m. Paul Lee expects the promotional campaign for "GCB" to pique people's interest, even if the show has a meaningless title.

9:16 a.m. "The core of our comedy offering is our Wednesday night," Lee says, insisting that ABC isn't only about multi-cam comedies for the future, though he'd love to continue to build out the Tuesday multi-cam comedy block. "To have found an audience with 'Last Man Standing' was really gratifying,' he says.

9:17 a.m. "I think it was right in the middle there. We'll see where it goes in the next few weeks," Lee says of the premiere performance for "Work It."

9:18 a.m. "These shows that are very different from shows that have gone before are a risk. We knew it was an amazing piece of storytelling," Lee says of "Once Upon a Time." "You're always so disappointed when things don't work and so surprised when they do," he says. "It opens us up to taking risk and to really try to do the best television we can, with no limits."

9:20 a.m. Is there any future for "General Hospital" and when will it be announced? "We'll see. We'll have to make a decision at some point. I don't know when we'll make that decision," Lee says.

9:21 a.m. "The show is actually very pro-religion, but it looks at hypocrisy," Lee says of "GCB" and whether "Christian" is the scariest word in the title.

9:22 a.m. How does Lee feel about "Work It" after seeing reviews and whatnot? "I thought there was room, personally, for a very, very silly show," Lee says of looking at the network's otherwise classy and "sticky" and "sexy" shows.

9:23 a.m. "In the end, it's all about the show," Lee says of the stickiness of the network's fall shows, giving credit to showrunners over the ABC marketing and promotions team.

9:25 a.m. What's the future of "Grey's Anatomy" with various contracts running out? "Certainly we don't have any comments about those contracts," Lee says, praising Shonda's vision for both the end of the season and the season to come. "I'm feeling very good about the show," he says.

9:25 a.m. Lee is incredibly proud of the work ABC does with the gay and lesbian community, but he didn't understand the outrage over "Work It." He adds,  "In that particular case, I didn't get it."

9:26 a.m. Are female-driven shows becoming ABC's trademark? "I don't think that's true at all," Lee says. They market to affluent women, but even shows that aren't fronted by women do well within that brand. "We absolutely invite men in as well," he says. "Certainly having empowered women on the network is a great thing," he adds.

9:28 a.m. Was there ever any consideration for making "The River" a miniseries? No, but Lee recalls a conversation with producer Steven Spielberg in which the Oscar-winning director said that getting eight episodes was a key to letting the show find itself. He promises that the producers have lots of thoughts regarding where the show goes after those eight episodes.

9:29 a.m. What went wrong with "Pan Am" and "Charlie's Angels"? Lee is proud that the network was able to bring audiences to "Pan Am" initially and he, somewhat weirdly, thinks that they can bring an audience back to the show. "Pan Am" has original episodes airing through February and no decision has been made yet about its future. Regarding "Charlie's Angels," he thinks they didn't quite breath life back into the franchise.

9:31 a.m. "The River" has a "great and incredibly satisfying" finale after eight episodes, but it wasn't built for closure, but rather to be a long-running series.

9:32 a.m. Is it more important now to have shows that are visually lush? Lee says that because the networks are taking risks and having fun, more feature directors are drawn to shooting pilots. The goal is to tell stories that are attractive and bring people in. He predicts that more feature directors and writers, but also actors, will be doing TV soon. 

9:34 a.m. What's the fate of "Body of Proof"? "I'm a huge fan of Dana Delany. I love here," Lee says, predicting that the second half of the season will have more fun with the main character. He insists that affiliates love the show and that they hope audiences will respond in the second half of the season.

9:36 a.m. Lee reminds us that networks are selling Live+3, so they've found a way to at least partially embrace DVR numbers.

9:36 a.m. Lee hints that the location shift the "Revenge" producers told us might be coming at midseason will still be coming. He declined to say anything more.

9:38 a.m. What kind of a shelf-life does "Dancing with the Stars" have? "I think it has lots and lots [of legs]," Lee says. "This how long 'Bachelor' has lasted and done so well for us," Lee says, projecting "many, many more" seasons for "Dancing."

9:39 a.m. How does the network keep "Dancing" fresh? "The dancers are almost more or as much stars as the celebrities," Lee says, adding that the show's refreshing really comes down to casting. 

 

That's all, folks...

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Daniel Fienberg
Executive Editor
A long-time member of the TCA Board and a longer-time blogger of "American Idol," Dan Fienberg writes about TV, except for when he writes about movies or sometimes writes about the Red Sox. But never music. He would sound stupid talking about music.
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