[01/10/12 - 06:41 PM]
TCA: ABC Reveals April Moves, Eyes March Return for "Cougar Town"
By Brian Ford Sullivan (TFC)

LOS ANGELES (thefutoncritic.com) -- "I think you'll find that, when we launch it, it will bring a big strong message that we love the show," ABC Entertainment Group President Paul Lee told reporters about its still sidelined comedy "Cougar Town" during the network's executive session at the TCA Winter Press Tour. "We haven't yet landed where it's going to go, but it's tentatively in there for March, and it's in there for a very good reason. We're going to give it a really good launchpad."

Lee would later hint that "if you look at 'Happy Endings,' if you look at 'Cougar Town,' and if you look at 'Apartment 23,' it will be great to have a group of young, irreverent comedies together. That's a little bit of a dream for the future, but I'd love to have "Cougar Town" as a part of that."

Said date was one of the few pieces of business not locked down by the Alphabet as Lee revealed "Scandal" will premiere Thursday, April 5 (bumping "Private Practice" to Tuesdays beginning April 24) and "Don't Trust the B---- in Apartment 23" on Wednesday, April 11 (replacing "Happy Endings," which will have wrapped its 22-episode order).

Other highlights from the executive session and the subsequent panels:

-- Lee is optimistic about the future of "Grey's Anatomy." "Well, certainly we don't have any comments about [Ellen Pompeo and Patrick Dempsey's] contracts," he said. "'Grey's' came roaring back. It's creatively still at the top of its form. And Shonda has a vision like nobody else. 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."

-- "Body of Proof" will hopefully be back as well. "I know as we go into the back half of the season, they're going to have more fun with her and really push some of the more edgy elements that she brought in in the early stages of it," Lee said about the Tuesday drama. "It is a show that we would love to work long term. Our affiliates love it. Gives us great lead in. And we're huge fans of the showrunners and Dana. So I'm hoping that that works well and we can bring it back."

-- "Pan Am" is still alive, while "Charlie's Angels" is still dead. Lee said that "we have new and original shows that run right through the end of February, and then it will be in contention as we go forward." As for "Charlie's Angels," Lee indicated "I don't quite think we breathed life into that franchise, but I think it was a really strong attempt."

-- "Revenge" may change locales from the Hamptons by the end of the season. "I don't want to give anything away about a show that people are sort of certainly at the edge of their seats," Lee said when asked about the possibility. "But, yes, it is in the cards."

-- "Dancing With the Stars" has a long future with the network. "I have to say we started with a weaker cast this year, and with [J.R. Martinez] winning it, it was a wonderful storyline," Lee noted about the show's fall run. Adding, "When you go and look back at the early seasons, the level of celebrity wasn't nearly the level that we're starting to get now. So I think 'Dancing with the Stars' has many, many years to come. I'm a huge fan of that show. Love it."

-- Kevin Hart's character will return to "Modern Family." "He's in our episode that we're shooting next week, so we like to start sprinkling in people in their lives and bring them back," Steve Levitan said during the Wednesday Comedy Showrunners Panel. As for other upcoming developments on the show, Levitan joked that "the one I'm particularly proud and excited about is next week Lily says fuck. Coming up we've got Greg Kinnear, who is going to play a business associate of Phil's who kisses Claire on the mouth. We have Ellen Barkin as Mitzi Roth, Phil's rival real estate agent, and Bobby Cannavale playing Louis from the famous now-defunct clown team Fizbo & Louis. But really, I'm sticking with the fuck answer."

-- Whoopi Goldberg will guest on "The Middle's" 21st episode this season. "She's been a huge fan of the show, and I think she feels a special connection to Sue, so she's going to play Sue's guidance counselor, so that will be fun," said co-creator DeAnn Heline. Eileen Heisler added that, "We have Ed Asner coming on, which is really exciting, because we're kind of playing 'Mary Tyler Moore' tick tack toe trying to in our lives work with every single person from the 'Mary Tyler Moore' show that we love." Heline also teased that "we have an episode about the Super Bowl where because it's in their backyard, and Frank has volunteered a lot and been a hospitality volunteer."

-- Wilmer Valderrama and Alicia Silverstone are both bound for "Suburgatory." "We have the very sexy Wilmer Valderrama coming up," said creator Emily Kapnek. "We have Alicia Silverstone coming on for a four episode arc that we're really excited about, reuniting her with [Jeremy] Sisto. Those are our two big exciting ones in our pocket."

-- Michael McKean, Megan Mullally, Ed Begley, Jr. and James Wolk likewise will turn up on "Happy Endings." The former duo turn up in next week's episode while upcoming episodes will see Wolk as Max's "serious-ish boyfriend" and Begley as a version of himself.

-- And finally, "Grey's Anatomy," "Modern Family" and "The Middle" will shoot 24 episodes this season while "Private Practice," "Suburgatory" and "Happy Endings" are currently locked in at 22 according to their respective spokespersons.

  [january 2012]  


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