It was ABC’s turn to toot its horn Tuesday – but maybe ABC topper Paul Lee should have ceded at least some of the stage time to uber-producer Shonda Rhimes. At one point, the executive flashed a faux schedule on the big screen that featured post-it notes, holding space for the next Shondaland joint.
Besides how important the producer is to ABC’s bottom line, here are four other things we learned from attending ABC’s upfront presentation Tuesday in New York City:
1. You all really like them! Lee says that ABC is not only No. 1, but it has the most talked about and most social programs on TV. The recent death of McDreamy on Grey’s Anatomy certainly helped with that. (And sorry, MerDer fans: the only mention of Dr. Derek Shepherd was in a video montage about how ABC programming and characters crack the zeitgeist).
2. It’s all just Shonda’s world; we just play in it. Lee acknowledged that a lot of the network’s success is due to the uber-producer’s prolific production company, Shondaland. Though Grey’s Anatomy was a network beacon for years, Lee says How to Get Away With Murder actually reached more people in its first year, thanks to DVR and online streaming, compared to Grey‘s back in 2005. The Rhimes reign isn’t over yet: she’s got another potential mystery-cum-hit called The Catch, which stars Mireille Enos as a richie-rich who gets conned by hottie two-timer.
3. Jimmy Kimmel joked that ABC “doesn’t recycle old ideas. We work tirelessly to bring you terrible new ideas.” That’s not entirely true: Most of their fall and midseason shows are not only richly diverse but blissfully unfamiliar (meaning, they don’t appear to be stolen from old and tired conceits). The comedies look particularly promising: there’s Dr. Ken, starring fan fave and ex-Community funny man Ken Jeong and an all-black reboot of Uncle Buck starring the silly-good Mike Epps.
4. ABC has become a welcome landing pad for ex-Gossip Girl stars. Ed Westwick plays a serial killer in a delicious new thriller called Wicked City, and Chace Crawford is a fortune hunter on the loose in Oil.
5. Contestants on Dancing With the Stars aren’t always held to the same regard as network stars like Kerry Washington and the folks of Modern Family. But then, DWTS never had a charismatic chick magnet like Noah Galloway. The double-amputee, who just proposed to his fiancee during Monday’s telecast, was the only DWTS contestant featured prominently in the network’s high-wattage video montage at the start of the presentation.