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ABC President Paul Lee took the stage at the Television Critics Association summer press tour on Tuesday to (somewhat) openly discuss the network's diverse slate of new programming, the success of The Goldbergs, and more. With a focus on moving forward, Lee is looking forward to the fall season, which is perhaps why he didn't really address the recent cancellation of beloved freshman sitcom Trophy Wife. Here's what he had to say.


On the diversity of the network's fall slate:

ABC is currently the most diverse of the four major broadcast networks, and the addition of new series CristelaFresh Off the BoatBlack-ish, and How To Get Away With Murder will only increase that diversity in the 2014-2015 TV season. Lee said the effort is all about authenticity, not gimmick; ABC wants to reflect what America really looks like, and Lee believes shows that lack diversity feel dated "because America doesn't look that way anymore." He also praised the network's new shows for being accessible. "We picked them up because they're great television," he said. "We embrace it. We love having a diverse slate, but we think these shows are deeply relatable."


On the decision to air bridge the gap between half-seasons of established shows with shorter-run new shows:

Lee hopes that the network's decision to split Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. and Once Upon a Time into fall and spring half-seasons will make the shows more accessible, and compared the approach to the way cable series operate. Both shows will air long strings of episodes without interruption—something that S.H.I.E.L.D. fans should be happy to hear, given that Season 1 was confusingly scheduled around the releases of two different Marvel films—as well as definitive fall finales and spring premieres. Marvel's Agent Carter and musical fairytale Galavant will then bridge the gaps between half-seasons by completing their runs while S.H.I.E.L.D. and OUAT are on hiatus, something Lee wishes the network had done with Once Upon a a Time in Wonderland: "I would have given that show a better chance by doing what we're doing with Galavant and putting it in the gap."


On whether the network will release Galavant's music for purchase, à la Glee:

While there's currently no plan in place to release the music on a weekly basis, Lee was quick to praise Galavant songwriter Alan Menken: "[He] is a genius. He's creating one new glorious song after another." Lee said that ABC does hope to use the music "beyond the show," though he didn't elaborate on how.


On Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. and Agent Carter:

[Redacted] #jokez


On the success of a series based on title alone:

When asked whether or not ABC is worried about the success of its new shows due to some unfortunate titles (some critics believe that Trophy Wife struggled to find an audience because it was named Trophy Wife), Lee pointed out that Fresh Off the Boat, about a Chinese family that relocates to Florida to run a restaurant, has the same title as the book it's based on, a memoir by chef Eddie Huang. Black-ish, he said, came straight from Anthony Anderson. Lee backed both titles, noting that ABC strives to name its shows in a way that will "catch the eye and capture the imagination." Surprisingly, he said nothing about the poorly titled Selfie

On the same subject, during the panel discussion for new drama How to Get Away With Murder, series creator Shonda Rhimes shut down a silly discussion about the length of the show's title by noting that she doesn't consider Twitter hashtags when she's writing a show. #BURN


On the cancellation of Trophy Wife and the success of The Goldbergs

After it was implied by a reporter that ABC ignored an oft-repeated call to use Modern Family as a launching pad for the late freshman comedy Trophy Wife, Lee avoided explaining the logic behind the network's decision. "We were always disappointed throughout the year ... not to get a pulse where we put [Trophy Wife]," he said. "We tried hard to create really promotable episodes and still couldn’t bring any people to it. We did try some repeats [on Wednesdays]. Wherever we put it, it just didn’t connect with an audience."

Later in the session, the subject came up once again, but Lee evaded further Trophy Wife questions by choosing instead to discuss how proud he is of The Goldbergs"It was sad not to get an audience for [Trophy Wife], but it was extremely gratifying to get an audience for GoldbergsI truly believe Goldbergs is going to be an asset on this network for many, many years to come," he said, noting that it's the network's goal to build two or three "assets" every year. It's a shame that ABC didn't realize Trophy Wife could have joined Goldbergs and S.H.I.E.L.D. as one of those assets if it'd only had more of a chance.



TV.com's 2014 Fall Preview:
New Shows, Network Schedules, Trailers, and More


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AIRED ON 4/26/2017

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Diversity ≠ Quality ≠ Fun.
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ABC has become the new NBC. And that is not good.
Diversity, Accessibility, Blah Blah Blah.
This is the network that has cancelled shows mid-stream and if we were lucky the unaired episodes were aired much later at some hard to find time.
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This ABC hack sound just like NBC's did at TCAs before it crashed and burned. 'Nothing wrong here.' And now they are doubling down for the 14 lineup with nothing even remotely tantalizing in the pipeline. More garbage - best of all more Marvel garbage! Lets not talk too much about the Marvel project that never worked flopping around in the corner of the tent. It got a 2nd season renewal only BECAUSE THEY HAD TO. (Its kind of awesome to me that this grand idea of mixing ABC/Disney/ and Marvel is just turning out complete sh!t from all three points.) Its so bad in network television right now that fools with sh!t for brains like Paul Lee can have one of the worst years in their employers history, the only reason any of the new shows survived was because they have to have some retention 'cause the ratings sure as hell weren't there, and does he get fired? Hell no - he gets a new 5 year contract! None of the reason that all of his lineup failed is his fault. Its the creators fault or the audience's fault but not Paul Lee's.


Why didn't anyone ask if he is just going to tank this season as well. If he does it again maybe ABC will just give him a lifetime contract? How arrogant is this knob. Is he still working because he is the actual subject of 'How to Get Away With Murder'?

He has the balls to sit there and say they deserve a pat on back for a show with a female lead and he's talking with no irony at all about 'Selfie'. Yeah 'Selfie' looks like it contains as impressive a role for an actress as 'Elizabeth Jennings'. All its going to be is Karen Gillan using up the last remaining shreds of her 'Amy Pond' cred. If 'Guardians of the Galaxy' turns out as bad as the promos look, are they just going to be stuck with a show with an actress no one cares about anyway? Maybe that's the plan.


People have to stop questioning if cable is better than network. It is and the fact that fools like Paul Lee are STILL making programming decisions after his last fall line up crashed and burned is one of the big reasons why. He put out that crap last year, what informs them that any of this is going to change when this years crap doesn't even look any bit as interesting as last year? Stow your diversity talking points as well. If you are being diverse in casting but the roles are still ill conceived and poorly written (with tasteless and worse than tasteless, just plain stupid titles) all your talk is is just talk - its meaningless. Maybe you are better at talking points than overseeing production of a network programming slate?

A lot of this new schedule looks pretty well covered already - where is the original idea? Where is the stand out? What is new? Where is the new approach? Who is the actor/actress they have in one of these shows that is going to silence the conversation about Tatiana Maslany? ... keep talking about 'diversity' Paul, keep avoiding talking about any real issues with this dumpster of a Big 4 network. Keep the useless reporters who you invited who don't ask any real questions happy.


Screw ABC. All this story tells me is that they are very well positioned to maintain their position at the bottom of the stairs. (Another one is in your sights Univision!)

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I'm sorry, I think backing off on Agents of Shield is a sign, and not a good one. If they thought this a good idea then why didn't they start this way? It's obviously an expensive show to make and they already knew that. How will this help this show? It got pretty good over the season, and maybe more shows would benefit from this. But certainly not this one. It's going to cast a shadow of lack of faith, which will cause it to lose more of it's audience, rather than gain any. Aren't these the folks who refused to move Last Resort, because they didn't want to pay for this expensive venture after it failed in taking out The Big Bang Theory?
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The scrub in the accompanying photo completely sucked at his job last year - almost his entire slate tanked - not a single shining light to really hang his hat on, he can blow on and on about 'Goldbergs' all he wants, no one is really watching most people tuned out when they lost their hearing listening to people scream at one another for 23 minutes or SHIELD, which was just a massive disaster with an exceptionally crappy cast - and as a reward for these 'winners???' he got a raise and a new 5 year contract. I wanna work for ABC/Disney/Marvel!!!!!!! They reward undisputedly a complete and abject failure and yet scratch their heads wondering why they suck so bad and why more people are just turning off ABC than turning it on.
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The name was the great irony about the show, she was absolutely not a trophy wife which was the charming thing about her character and the show as a whole how she worked so hard to win over the newly acquired kids and even the ex-wives. It's a shame ABC shit over a really witty, charming show and it's a shame that they're still shitting on it by refusing to address their complete ignorance of the fact that sitting it next to Modern Family would have undoubteldy saved the show and kept it on the air.
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If by diverse he means ethnic shows with black actors and actors with other ethnical backgrounds I disagree. I'd say NBC is the most diverse network.
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I never thought Trophy Wife was a lame name at all. But at least they finally seem to have learned that "bitch" probably ought to be avoided in titles. Having to back off from the presumed "edginess" and rename them to safer but more head-scratching titles such as Don't Trust the B-----... and GCB made them look silly.
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I think ABC is sitting out Comic-Con this year, I just set up my schedule and didn't notice anything from them aside from the Marvel shows. Well, at least we get to avoid another Pan Am debacle, although I still have the free bag they gave out.
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OUAT is gonna be at Comic Con! Idk if that's of any interest to you, but still, it's ABC.
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Not my show, but good point, I had forgotten about that, it falls through the cracks easily on my list.
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Trophy Wife was in so many ways superior to The Goldbergs. Heck, I loved the 80s, too, but the characters are too abrasive. Every time I tune in, people are shouting at each other. That's not clever or funny. The Middle manages to create a crazy, dysfunctional family that is relatable in a way that The Goldbergs are not.
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Well that is the kind of garbage people like to see, especially in the U.S.
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