ABC starting new comedy night
Wednesday, May 18, 2011
NEW YORK (AP) — Fairy tale figures, 1960s era stewardesses and men who dress up as women to get a job are featured in 13 new television series that ABC is introducing next season, along with proven performers Tim Allen and “Charlie’s Angels.”
With familiar hits like “Grey’s Anatomy” and “Desperate Housewives” aging, new ABC Entertainment President Paul Lee said he looked for a mix of ambition and comfort in the first new season schedule he presented to advertisers on Tuesday.
“I think we have a lot of big swings,” Lee said.
Sunday may be his boldest step. Lee shifted “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition” to Fridays to present three dramas that all inhabit unique worlds. Two are new and “Desperate Housewives” is returning.
“Once Upon a Time” will draw comparisons to “Lost” with its mixture of real and imaginary worlds, and is from two producers who worked on that series. The new one is based on a 10-year-old boy who believes his mother is Snow White and Prince Charming’s missing daughter. “Pan Am” evokes “Mad Men” as a sexy throwback to the 1960s, with stewardesses and pilots replacing ad executives.
ABC is looking to Allen to open a new night of comedy on Tuesdays. The former “Home Improvement” star hawks sporting goods this time instead of tools, but in “Last Man Standing” he struggles for his footing in a home full of women with his wife and three daughters.
During an appearance at ABC’s presentation of its schedule to advertisers, Allen looked down at ABC executives in the audience and said, “It took all of these guys and my team to convince me to come out of golf retirement to do this.
The “Dancing With the Stars” results show will air on Tuesdays, but between cycles of that competition ABC will air four comedies on Tuesday evenings. They will include the existing “Cougar Town,” which won’t reappear until midseason.
Some of the biggest laughs from advertisers were reserved not for clips of ABC’s comedies but Jimmy Kimmel’s annual routine mocking the networks’ ambitions — even his own. NBC and Fox have introduced their schedules, with CBS up next on Wednesday.
“All of us at ABC are committed to one thing,” Kimmel said. “Keeping our jobs.”
As advertisers exited the meeting at Avery Fisher Hall, about a dozen loud protesters shouted at them from across the street. They were angry at ABC’s decision to cancel the soap operas “One Life to Live” and “All My Children.”
With the switch of “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition” to Fridays, paired with “Shark Tank,” Lee said he hoped to establish that as a family night of television — hearkening back to ABC’s old “TGIF” concept.
Two men who dress up as women to get jobs as pharmaceutical reps are the focus of the comedy “Work It,” which doesn’t appear until midseason. Lee called the rock-’em, sock-’em action “pure candy.”
The remake of “Charlie’s Angels” is scheduled for Thursday nights, with Minka Kelly, Rachael Taylor and Annie Ilonzeh as the stars.
ABC is saving some of its more high-profile new series for midseason in the hope they won’t get lost in a crush of new fall programming. They include “Missing,” where Ashley Judd stars as a woman trying to hunt for a son who disappeared while studying in Europe; the supernatural series “The River”; and the Dallas-based campy drama “Good Christian Belles.”
Lee said that in challenging financial times, research shows that a lot of viewers are interested in superheroes and monsters.
“It’s a time when people are looking for pure entertainment,” Lee said, “and I think television can provide that.”
ABC plans to stay true to its audience, frequently dominated by women, while broadening its appeal, he said.
Left behind are the series “Brothers & Sisters,” “V,” “Better With You,” “Detroit 1-8-7” and “Mr. Sunshine,” which were canceled.
Other new series on ABC’s schedule:
—“Revenge,” a drama on Wednesday night’s schedule for the fall, is about a young woman who moves into a wealthy Hamptons town on Long Island to get back at old neighbors for a reputation-ruining incident that happened to her family.
—“Scandal,” written by “Grey’s Anatomy” creator Shonda Rhimes, is about a former media relations consultant to a president who opens her own damage control firm. It’s set for midseason.
—“Apartment 23” is a comedy about two morals-deficient women roommates that also features actor James Van Der Beek of “Dawson’s Creek” playing himself. A highlight reel of clips yielded a memorable line, an unprintable one related to sex and a birthday cake.
—“Man Up” is a Tuesday-night companion comedy to Allen’s new sitcom about three men who wonder what it’s like to be a man in a world of pomegranate body wash.
—“Suburgatory,” a comedy on Wednesday night, is about a single father who moves from New York City to the suburbs after finding a box of condoms on his 16-year-old daughter’s nightstand.
ABC is owned by The Walt Disney Co.