ABC announced Tuesday that Steve McPherson has submitted his resignation as President, ABC Entertainment Group. McPherson, who has headed the entertainment division since 2004, released this statement today: “I want to thank the wonderful team of individuals who have worked with me throughout my time here and wish them nothing but the best.”
A replacement for McPherson is expected to be announced shortly, the network announced, though multiple reports say that ABC Family President Paul Lee is expected to fill the bill. McPherson oversaw all of ABC’s primetime lineup, as well as its sister company ABC Studios.
The news about the shakeup in the executive suite comes only days before ABC is set to unveil its fall lineup to the nation’s TV critics and reporters at the annual Television Critics Tour in Beverly Hills. Rumors about McPherson’s departure hit a fever pitch this year after reports surfaced that Disney Chief Bob Iger was going to focus his attention on the network’s performance. ABC finished the season in third place among viewers (8.7 million) but was down 3 percent versus last year. It tied NBC for third place among adults 18-49, but was down 7%.
McPherson helped to build a promising new night of comedies on Wednesdays this year that included the critically beloved Modern Family – which is up for 14 Emmys on Aug. 29, including Outstanding Comedy. But success in finding another buzz-worthy drama in the vein of Lost has eluded the talented though sometimes volatile executive; V was renewed for a second season but its ratings remain low and FlashForward was canceled after only one year of heavy hype and disappointing viewership levels. Meanwhile, ABC’s once-hot shows like Desperate Housewives, Grey’s Anatomy and Brothers & Sisters are showing serious signs of age, and the network has yet to develop another big reality show in the vein of the still relevant Dancing with the Stars.
ABC’s fall lineup shows some promise: No Ordinary Family is a drama about a clan of superheroes and it stars Michael Chiklis, one of the most sought-after actors during this development season.