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October 4, 2015

The Upfronts: ABC

by Jane Boursaw, posted May 13th 2008 9:07AM
ABCABC released its 2008-09 prime-time schedule this morning during a press conference call conducted by Steve McPherson, president of ABC Entertainment. I listened in and got the rundown:

Returning: Boston Legal, Brothers & Sisters, Desperate Housewives, Dirty Sexy Money, Eli Stone, Grey's Anatomy, Lost (Midseason), Private Practice, Pushing Daisies, Ugly Betty, According to Jim (Midseason), Samantha Who?, America's Funniest Home Videos, The Bachelor (Midseason), Dancing With The Stars, Extreme Makeover: Home Edition, Supernanny, Wife Swap, Saturday Night College Football, Primetime: What Would You Do?

Out: October Road, Notes from the Underbelly, Men in Trees, Big Shots, Carpoolers, Cashmere Mafia, Cavemen, Miss/Guided, Women's Murder Club, Oprah's Big Give

New: Life on Mars, The Goode Family (Midseason), Scrubs (Midseason), Opportunity Knocks, Untitled Ashton Kutcher/Tyra Banks Project (Midseason)

McPherson talked a lot about marketing and defining the audience, and said they're working with some new ideas on that front. He noted that they have an "incredibly stable schedule" on deck for fall, with 17 pilots still in development for mid season. "That's good for us from a timing standpoint, because that's when a lot of openings come."

He adds, "We're returning our dominant core group of shows from last fall. The few openings we had we've filled with the kind of quality programming viewers have come to expect from ABC, and we have a very strong bench. As always, our focus is on delivering the best stories and most memorable characters on TV every day of the week, every week of the year."

New Shows:

Life on Mars (Thursday, 10 p.m.). Based on the BBC series created by Matthew Graham, Tony Jordan and Ashley Pharoah, this drama series revolves around Sam Tyler, a modern-day police detective who, after a car crash, mysteriously finds himself transported back to 1973 and still working as a detective. It stars Jason O'Mara as Sam Tyler, Rachelle LeFevre as Annie Cartwright, Colm Meaney as Gene Hunt, Stephanie Jacobsen as Maya, Lenny Clarke as George Randall, Patrick Wenk-Wolff as Colin Raimes and Richard Benjamin as Milton Kornboll. Josh Applebaum, Andre Nemec, Scott Rosenberg, Jane Featherstone, Stephen Garrett and David E. Kelley are the executive producers. The pilot episode of Life on Mars was executive-produced by David E. Kelley, Tommy Schlamme, Bob Breech, Jane Featherstone and Stephen Garrett, and was produced by David E. Kelley Productions in association with 20th Century Fox Television.

Opportunity Knocks (Tuesday, 8 p.m.). This new show literally shows up on America's doorstep and tests how well they know their family. The mobile team will arrive at "Anywhere, America" in a semi-truck full of flat screen TVs, new furniture, and big cash prizes the family can win right there, in front of all their friends and neighbors. Host J.D. Roth poses questions to family members based directly on their lives, each other, and articles found in and around their home. If they're able to prove they know their family inside and out, they'll win the prizes of their dreams. This series is executive produced by Ashton Kutcher, Jason Goldberg, Karey Burke, J.D. Roth and Todd A. Nelson.

The Goode Family (mid-season). A new animated series from Mike Judge (creator of King of the Hill), this comedy focuses on a family obsessed with doing the "right" thing, whether it's environmentally, politically or socially. Unfortunately, their efforts often have unintended comic consequences. Voice talent includes Mike Judge as Gerald, Nancy Carell as Helen, Dave Herman as Ubuntu and Abby Elliot as Bliss. Executive producers are Mike Judge, David Krinsky, John Altschuler, Michael Rotenberg and Tom Lassally.

Untitled Ashton Kutcher/Tyra Banks Project (mid season). A beauty pageant "unlike any you've ever seen," from executive producers Ashton Kutcher and Tyra Banks.

Scrubs (mid season). Yes, I know it's not "new," but it's new to ABC. This quirky series focuses on the strange experiences of Dr. John "J.D." Dorian, a medical resident, as he continues on his healing career in a surreal hospital, crammed full of unpredictable staffers and patients -- where humor and tragedy can collide at any time (as is often the case in real life). Scrubs has received a slew of awards and nominations, including 10 Emmy nominations. In 2005, the series won the Emmy for Outstanding Multi-Camera Picture Editing, and in 2004, it was honored with a prestigious Humanitas Prize. Beginning that same year, the series received three consecutive Producers Guild Award nominations from 2004-2006. Scrubs stars Zach Braff as Dr. John "J.D." Dorian, Donald Faison as Chris Turk, Sarah Chalke as Elliot Reid, Judy Reyes as Carla Espinosa, John C. McGinley as Dr. Perry Cox, Ken Jenkins as Dr. Bob Kelso and Neil Flynn as The Janitor. It's executive produced by creator Bill Lawrence.

ABC's fall prime time schedule (all times listed are Eastern, with new shows in bold):

8 pm: Dancing With the Stars
9:30 pm: Samantha Who?
10 pm: Boston Legal

8 pm: Opportunity Knocks
9 pm: Dancing With the Stars Results Show
10 pm: Eli Stone

8 pm: Pushing Daisies
9 pm: Private Practice
10 pm: Dirty Sexy Money

8 pm: Ugly Betty
9 pm: Grey's Anatomy
10 pm: Life on Mars

8 pm: Wife Swap
9 pm: Supernanny
10 pm: 20/20

8 pm: Saturday Night College Football

7 pm: America's Funniest Home Videos
8 pm: Extreme Makeover: Home Edition
9 pm: Desperate Housewives
10 pm: Brothers & Sisters

More notes on the press conference:

* Opportunity Knocks: McPherson called it "an amazing game show," adding, "Ashton's come up with something incredibly fun and ground-breaking."

* Product integration: A reporter asked about including products in the shows, referencing Lost. McPherson said, "We'd rather err on the side of caution when it comes to product integration. Lost is really an animal unto itself." He added that if a show lends itself and elevates the product, they'll look at it, "otherwise, its not something we'll open up to."

* Picking up Scrubs: "We think it's really a great addition for us, but it's kind of like bricks, in that you really have to build up."

* The writer's strike: "There's no question that the interruption of the strike was destructive. But we ended the year having grown our young adult audience, so we're happy about that. For us, mid-season is a place where we have a lot of opportunity."

* Oprah's Big Give: "We love that show, but Oprah didn't want to continue with it. But it's a terrific project, really interesting."

* Scheduling past the 30/60 minute mark: McPherson said they try to avoid it, but it's dictated by the show. "With Dancing, there's a certain amount of competition, so they need that extra 15 minutes. It's an advantage to have more of that great material, so there's no cutting. Sometimes we take advantage of it, sometimes we don't. If we have Grey's go into Lost, it's hard to tell Lost to go shorter." McPherson added that they're trying to provide info for DVR recording, "so you don't get that terrible feeling of having two minutes left and it goes dark."

* October Road: "We couldn't get traction on October Road, the little engine that could. The pilot was picked up late, and it's a terrific show, but it had a very small, but dedicated, core audience."

* Life on Mars. McPherson said they'll be working on it over the summer. They have no intention to change from the British version, but the British version didn't translate into the initial effort. "There's some levity in the British version we really like."

* Ugly Betty production returning to New York: "It's set in New York and the pilot was shot in New York. So it made sense to bring it back," McPherson said.

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Farmer Iggy

Mike Judge's new cartoon is the first ABC show I've been interested in since The Job.

May 15 2008 at 4:42 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I'm disappointed that "Women's Murder Club" won't be back -- especially since Lindsay just re-connected with her dad (Gerald McRaney, who has some free time now that "Jericho" is no more).

Plus, I really like watching Angie Harmon work over the bad guys. In one episode pre-strike, she had this great scene where she was talking on a cell phone and beating up a thug at the same time. You don't see that every day.

And like most of you, I just don't know what to say about "Wife Swap" coming back year after year. What is up with that? It's a world gone mad.

Someone needs to start one of those campaigns to change the network's mind and bring back "Women's Murder Club." Hey, it could happen.

May 14 2008 at 8:27 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Women's Murder Club is an excellent show. It had ok ratings even without help from ABC. That's actually quoted from different newspaper articles. Check out the message boards at WMC. A lot of people loved this show. It had higher ratings than Eli Stone, yet Eli Stone gets renewed. We can only hope that perhaps a different station can pick it up. I do know it is a waste of time to watch a new show and risk getting hooked, because chances are it will be taken off. So Why Bother?

May 14 2008 at 8:11 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I'm kind of sad to see Women's Murder Club go, it really grew on me, but According to Jim got picked up, WTF?!!

I won't miss Cashmere Mafia though. That show started so promising and they totally screwed the characters.

All my favorite shows seem to be returning including Pushing Daisies so it's alllll goooood.

May 14 2008 at 3:25 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

What about "Good Behaviour"?

May 14 2008 at 12:55 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

NBC never filmed Scrubs in HD (it is the only scripted program I saw that wasn't in HD). Will ABC be filming it in HD, or will they follow NBC's lead and keep it in SD?

May 13 2008 at 9:57 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I'm disappointed with "Carpoolers" and "Miss/Guided" being gone (though "Carpoolers" being canned was already pretty much a given). What a 2-hour comedy block those 2 shows, plus "Scrubs" and "Samantha Who?", would've been.

Other than that, I'm pretty happy ABC kept everything else I like on their network, including "Eli Stone".

May 13 2008 at 4:03 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

As I said before, ABC is "ALL 'BOUT CASH". I wish Boston Legal had been renewed for a full season and not just for 13. It's not an ABC owned show, therefore less investment and less interest for the ABC suits. Wife Swap is crap and too many serial shows on. I like procedural dramas and screw the crap game shows.

May 13 2008 at 3:53 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Mike K

As for "Life On Mars", I watched all the BBC episodes and really hope they don't screw up the remake, more "The Office" and less "Coupling".

Regarding the shows that are out, I think I watched almost all of them with the exception of Cavemen and Oprah's Big Give.

MiT, and October Road are probably the 2 I most wish they'd kept, even if it was just to wrap up the storylines. I thought Carpoolers was pretty funny. I really thought Women's Murder Club was starting to pick up some steam too. Big Shots and Cashmere Mafia I could have taken or left.

Of course I'm probably atypical of your average TV watcher... having a 4 tuner DVR means you don't have to choose as much.

May 13 2008 at 3:40 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Jeff N.

Any idea what night and time LOST will be on when it comes back in the Winter?

May 13 2008 at 2:54 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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