[07/27/12 - 11:20 AM]
ABC at TCA: Lee "Optimistic" About "Modern Family" Negotiations
By Brian Ford Sullivan (TFC)

LOS ANGELES (thefutoncritic.com) -- "We're in the middle of negotiations at the moment," ABC Entertainment Group President Paul Lee told reporters at the network's executive session at the TCA Summer Press Tour about its much-publicized talks with the cast of "Modern Family" and producer 20th Century Fox Television. "And we're hopeful, we're optimistic that we'll be able to resolve it." The word "optimistic" was used four times by the executive in response to various attempts by reporters to get specifics of the negotiations. Not surprisingly - and understandably - Lee stuck to the script of avoiding comment beyond "it's a wonderful show" and "we are optimistic about it."

Ultimately, Lee only let one piece of hard news slip during the session: the network is re-piloting "Kings of Van Nuys," its attempt to import the U.K. comedy "Only Fools and Horses." John Leguizamo, Christpher Lloyd, Wendi McLendon-Covey, B.J. Bales and Dustin Ybarra starred in the original pilot shot this past spring from writers Brian Bradley and Steven Cragg. Lee would later add that no recastings are planned. "We're going to give it another crack," he told me in the post-session scrum. "It's one that I have a little glint in my eye for."

Lee likewise affirmed his intentions to re-pilot CBS castoff "Super Fun Night," starring Rebel Wilson. "We're likely to make that show a single-camera [comedy], which I think is perfect for us," he said. "If we can get that right she could be a great compliment to our comedies."

As for other topics:

-- On why "The Neighbors" and "Suburgatory" were swapped on Wednesday nights: "I think 'The Neighbors' sits better in the 8:00 hour than the 9:00 hour. And you know what? Candidly, there's so much pressure at 9:30 after "Modern Family." I wanted to make sure that people started to enjoy the show because I want it to be on the air for a very long time." Adding, "'Suburgatory' is such a good show, we think that's going to be a really good bridge for 'Modern Family' through to 'Nashville,' maybe a better bridge than 'Neighbors.' And we think 'Neighbors' is going to be a better bridge from 'Middle' through to 'Modern Family.'"

-- On if "Rookie Blue" could work in season rather during the summer: "We have not made a decision to put it in the season. We think it is a really strong player for us, and we are actually looking for next summer to do more plays like that."

-- Lee hasn't passed on a second season of "Duets." "I mean, look, we haven't made a decision about it yet," he said. "You know, I think our cast was fantastic, and we love the twist that you actually had Jennifer Nettles or Kelly Clarkson getting up there and doing a scene, not just being the judges. You know, reality is hard because it's very much more difficult now to find the shock of the new." As for fellow summer entry "The Glass House," Lee admitted that the network's legal dust up with CBS "was totally worth it... we were right in the lawsuit, and that lawsuit is over."

-- On why they passed on "Gotham": "We were super excited by some of the shows that we had... so it's a very high bar to meet. And we had less needs this year than we did last year. You know, if you remember, I would think there were something like seven new shows that we brought out. So, look, in the end, it didn't quite make it."

  [july 2012]  


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