ABC renews sophomore sitcoms and some dramas
"Modern Family," "The Middle," and "Cougar Town" are all coming back to ABC next season. Likewise "Castle," "Grey's Anatomy" and, yes, even "Private Practice," the network announced Monday at Winter TV Press Tour 2011.
But fans of "Desperate Housewives" and "Brothers & Sisters" - start holding your breath.
"Desperate is "doing a great job," ABC Entertainment chief Paul Lee said, and if that's not a case of damning with faint praise we don't know what is. Even worse, he said, "we have not made a decision yet" whether to pick up "Brothers & Sisters," adding, "we'll see as we go forward."
Lee also had nice but noncommittal things to say about his network's new - but not developed by him - cop drama "Detroit 1-8-7," especially its star Michael Imperioli. Among the things Lee said: the cop drama has become very popular in Detroit. Terrific.
Lee -- the former ABC Family chief who was named programming chief at ABC last summer when the guy with the gig left suddenly under a cloud -- waxed charmingly, if not terribly newsworthily, about his vision of ABC as the network of "smart with heart." ABC, he said, is the place of shows that are "culturally defining, smart, big-tent," and "aspirational" - and yet, with room for "Wipeout" and a new spinoff, "Winter Wipeout."
But, Lee declined to discuss what new shows he's developing for next season, which the TV critics, bloggers, tweeters and columnists in the room took meekly. These journalists attending the press tour have not been the same since Oprah delivered her 49 minute I Am God's Vessel speech a few days ago. And their condition only got worse earlier Monday when ABC News president Ben Sherwood began to do a soft-shoe during his news conference. And, right before Lee spoke, ABC had craftily stuffed the members of the press full of hot cocoa and marshmallows and had them spend time with Ballsy - star of the Big Balls segment on "Wipeout" -- the ABC reality show that serves as proof positive that man is not Nature's last word.
Which explains, we think, why Lee got absolutely no questions from The Reporters Who Cover Television in re how he planned to dig ABC out of its fourth-place finish this season among the 18-49 year olds who are the currency of ABC's sales department.
Instead, they listened, stupefied, to Lee prattle on merrily about how a broadcast network is like a giant dinner party and his job is to come up with the guest list, aka the show runners, and start the sparkling conversation that will ensue. Now, nobody thinks more of Lee as a program developer than we do, but this was verging on the purely horseradish. .
Lee did, in fairness, speak briefly about a new series ABC has ordered from Shonda Rhimes of "Grey's" and "Private Practice" fame. She's also the person to thank for ABC's new "Off the Map" aka "Doctors in Bikinis," aka "Ten Hours of My Life I Will Never Get Back."
And Rhimes, who followed Lee with a news conference about "Map," told the press her new pilot is set in Washington and is about a "professional fixer" and is loosely based on crisis management consultant Judy Smith, whose credits include guiding Monica Lewinsky during her Interesting Period.
Lisa de Moraes
| January 10, 2011; 6:09 PM ET
Categories: Winter TV Press Tour 2011
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