Twists And Turns Abound In ABC Mid-Season Slate

ABC Mid-Season Kellie Freeze

ABC Mid-Season

ABC Executive Session
This afternoon, Paul Lee President of ABC Entertainment Group spoke about the new winter offerings of ABC, including new series and several returning anthologies. He also discussed the fate of several current series.

-First off, Lee gushed about his love of Quantico and boasts “We have seen Quantico growing week-on-week-on-week.” When asked about how the series can sustain the intrigue, suspense and success, Lee says Josh Schwartz (The OC, Gossip Girl), “has legs for the back half of the season… and beyond. Many twists and turns on that show.”

-Lee calls the 10-part saga Of Kings & Prophets, a “Muscular, theatrical, brilliantly-done show.”
The series, which Lee feels will appeal to men will air on Tuesday nights with Marvel’s Agents of SHEILD. and is a sex- and blood-filled interpretation of “the real history of Saul.”

The Family, which we’ll see a panel next. Star Joan Allen has the flu and cancelled our 1-on-1 interview, but we’ll touch base about this gripping family drama in the next week. Lee calls the cast (that includes Allen, Margot Bingham, Zach Gilford, Rupert Graves, Liam James, Floriana Lima, Andrew McCarthy, Alison Pill) “One of the best casts on TV.” Lee says he’s just read the final script and says, “The finale is extraordinary.”

Paul Lee file image (ABC/Image Group LA)

The Real O’Neals Lee calls the half-hour comedy “Adorable and full of heart,” and says the series, about an Irish-Catholic family who is facing family dysfunction as “on-brand for an ABC comedy.”
One critic mentioned that “A lot of Catholics don’t find it adorable,” and noted that the show has actually been the focus of protest. Lee says that once nay-sayers seethe series, they’ll find it “Full of family and faith and joy and humor.” And Lee reveals that his wife is Irish-Catholic and loves it. Points to the potential for backlash from black-ish, but that it never happened/was quickly dispelled when viewers saw what the show was about.

-Lee explained why ABC isn’t presenting a TCA panel The Catch– he hasn’t seen the redone pilot. He did share that he had just seen his first scene, and calls it “Really good.” Then he shared it with us. He shared a sneak peek with us. OMG.

-Lee didn’t talk about the Mike Epps-led comedy, Uncle Buck, whose panel is later this afternoon. Was it oversight or a bad omen?

-Lee also gave a preview of the 2-part miniseries Madoff, starring Richard Dreyfuss. Our Lori Acken had an amazing interview with the actor that we’re dying to share on our February issue.
Blythe Danner also stars. One of my favorite lines form the mini-series’ trailer was when Madoff says, “I was the magician, but nobody wants the trick explained.”

-Lee revels at this time, he has no plans to end Nashville at the end of this season. He points to the series’ voracious fans (and decent +3 ratings) and says he won’t make decisions until May.

-On the failure of Dark City, “I love taking big swings, and it was a big swing.” Says ultimately, Dark city didn’t find an audience.

-In the winter finale of Scandal, Lee says the show’s big shocker (A blink-and-you’ll-miss-it moment) came from Shonda.” Lee calls Rhimes “one of the most brilliant storytellers” calls the decision to skim over Olivia’s abortion, “a big surprise.” Which he “backed to the hilt.”

-Lee says future of Castle is nebulous. Says he’s optimistic about the show’s future, but hints things may be changing.

The Muppets. The expectations were very high. “We ran a great campaign for that.” We didn’t feel it had the joy and heart of what they were hoping for. Has high hopes for new Showrunner Kristin Newman, after the exit of Bob Kushell.

Madoff is coming through ABC entertainment and ABC’s news division.

The Catch Reserves all judgment until he sees the full cut next week

Galavant returns for a second season, despite lackluster ratings for Season 1. “It’s an adorable show,” Lee says. “The execution for this season is really strong.” Says schools want to do live versions. I reserve the right to put out different programming in “gap season.” The show makes a clever nod to the anticipated cancellation in the Season 2 premiere.

-Going to pilot with Marvel’s Most Wanted, a spin-off of Agents of SHIELD.

-Also says that Agent Carter is moving to L.A.

-When asked about the network’s “Tuesday at 10 (pm ET/PT) problem,” Lee said, “The way to solve Tuesdays at 10pm, is to fill it with excellent programming. Says he’s “Bullish” about Kings and Prophets.

Which ABC Mid-Season program are you most excied about?