Winter TCA Press Tour 2012: ABC President Paul Lee Dishes on the Future of GREY’S ANATOMY, COUGAR TOWN, GENERAL HOSPITAL & More!

Paul Lee is really excited about midseason.
Using the equivalent of the “Super Bowl for woman” that is the upcoming February 26th Oscar telecast as a launch pad, ABC Entertainment President Paul Lee kicked off this morning’s TCA Executive Session by touting his Network’s upcoming midseason schedule including the February 7th premiere of THE RIVER (“A really extraordinary show”), the March 4th premiere of GCB (“A really fun show brought to us by Darren Star”), the March 15th premiere of MISSING (“Marking the return of Ashley Judd to primetime”), the April 5th premiere of SCANDAL (“It’s so sticky, and it’s really sexy”) and the April 11th premiere of DON’T TRUST THE B—- IN APARTMENT 23 (“It’s one of my favorite comedies of the year”). The latter of which will get the plum post-MODERN FAMILY time slot when HAPPY ENDINGS finishes out its second season.

ABC had one helluva fall!
In an effort to ensure his excitement about his Network’s midseason lineup didn’t completely overshadow the success of ABC’s fall one, Lee singled out REVENGE and ONCE UPON A TIME as two of the strongest shows of the fall. Said Lee, “I think [Creator] Mike Kelley is doing a fabulous job with REVENGE, I adore that show. And ONCE UPON A TIME came back with a great number… is a really inventive show and [Creators] Adam and Eddie are doing a fabulous job with that show.” Also of note was Lee’s belief — after sidestepping the issue of the original cast member’s still up-in-the-air contracts, that is — in the resurgent GREY’S ANATOMY. “GREY’s came roaring back. It’s creatively still at the top of its form and Shonda [Creator Shonda Rhimes] has a vision like nobody else,” said Lee. “She knows what she’s doing, and she knows where she’s going. We’ve heard her vision, not just for the end of this season, but for beyond, and it’s really, really strong. I’m feeling very good about the show.”

COUGAR TOWN still has a home on ABC.
Not only does Lee promise that he’s a big fan of creator Bill Lawrence’s penchant for pot-stirring (“I always say to my showrunners, take a page out of Bill Lawrence’s book because he does such a great job of getting a passionate audience around a show.”), he promised that when COUGAR TOWN does launch (Tentatively schedule for March), the network will promote the show (“Well, the reality is COUGAR TOWN is having one of their best seasons to date and I think you’ll find that, when we launch it, it will bring a big strong message that we love the show.”) More interesting still Lee could one day foresee a dream situation of young comedy block featuring COUGAR TOWN, HAPPY ENDING and APT 23.

Paul Lee is still pretending WORK IT and PAN AM have futures.
Although Paul Lee gets serious points for kicking off this morning’s Executive Session by asking a roomful of tired critics what they really thought of WORK IT, the ABC Entertainment President loses some by pretending the not-so-well received show actually has a future, “I think it was right in the middle there,” said Lee referring to WORK IT’s ratings. “We’ll see where it goes in the next few weeks,” Along those same lines was his hesitancy to outright proclaims PAN AM dead on arrival, claiming that the show will run original episodes through February and that no decision has been made about the show’s future.

GENERAL HOSPITAL is not dead yet.
Despite the impending arrival of Katie Couric’s Fall 2012 chat fest, Lee isn’t ready to take GENERAL HOSPITAL off life support just yet. “I don’t know whether we’re going to make a decision on that. I’ve come in, sort of, very recently into that whole decision, so we’ll see. We will have to make a decision at some point,” said Lee. “I have to say, I started my life in soap operas. My first job was a second assistant director on a Brazilian soap at 7 o’clock. Not the greatest soap ever made, but I loved it. In Rio. And then I worked on soaps in the U.K., and I’m a fan of GENERAL HOSPITAL, but we have not made a decision, and don’t really have a time frame for it either.

  • Go figure, two beautifully “scripted” prime time shows are doing so well.  That should tell ABC something when it comes to the cancellation of the two daytime soaps.  People want good quality scripted shows, we are SICK to Death with all the Talk and Reality garbage.