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Paul Lee named new ABC entertainment chief

ABC-parent Disney made it official Friday - the broadcast network is replacing its hastily departed entertainment chief Steve McPherson with Paul Lee - the guy who's been giving MTV a run for its money over at cable network ABC Family by redefining "Family" to mean 10-28 year old viewers.

The announcement comes about three days after ABC announced McPherson had returned from vacation this week and voluntarily resigned.

It also comes less than 24 hours after McPherson announced he had hired a pit-bull lawyer to warn trade publications and Web sites to think twice about the speculative stories they've been writing in re the cause of McPherson's departure, which appears to have inspired one trade pub to begin adding to its articles a sentence assuring its readers it has "no knowledge that the allegations [in the article] are true."

Lee's appointment is effective immediately. Like McPherson, Lee will be in charge of developing, marketing, and scheduling programs on ABC's lineup; like McPherson he will also oversee ABC Studios, which produces series, mostly for ABC network, but also for other networks (CBS's "Criminal Minds" and "The Amazing Race," for instance, are ABC Studio co-productions).

Lee's first assignment: coming to Summer TV Press Tour 2010 on Sunday to appear at what was supposed to be McPherson's executive Q&A session, during which Lee will answer questions about ABC's new primetime slate, which was greenlit, produced, scheduled, and marketed by McPherson. Should be interesting.

Brit Lee was CEO and founder of BBC America when Disney started courting him about six years ago. Since Lee became president of ABC Family in 2004, he's added to the basic-cable network such shows as sci-fi soap "Kyle XY," teen-pregnancy drama "The Secret Life of the American Teenager," teen murder mystery "Pretty Little Liars," college campus dramedy "Greek," teener gymnast drama "Make It or Break It" and teen fat camp drama "Huge."

With these series, ABC Family has had six years of growth and its audience has more than doubled among 12-34 year olds and 18-34 year olds. is now the No. 2 cable network in primetime among 12-34 year old females, No. 3 with female teens -- no small feat for a network that's still home to "700 Club."

"Paul's success at ABC Family is as amazing as it is indisputable, and I'm looking forward to his continued success on ABC," the overly titled Disney/ABC Media Networks co-chair cum Disney/ABC Television Group president Anne Sweeney said giddily in Friday's announcement.
No word on who's replacing Lee at ABC Family.

By Lisa de Moraes  |  July 30, 2010; 5:30 PM ET
Categories:  Summer TV Press Tour 2010 , TV News  
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