At ABC's upfront the network, which is in pretty bad shape, highlighted its ability to capitalize on Disney's many brands, it's diverse lineup of shows, and, well, selfies. Read our live blog of the presentation below.
Ahead of the network's upfront, ABC released a schedule this morning with a Thursday night highlighting one of its biggest assets: Shonda Rhimes. The network moved its hit Scandal up a time slot to make way for How to Get Away with Murder, a Rhimes-produced show starring Viola Davis. Rhimes now has a deal to stay at ABC Studios, the network's sister studio, through 2018. Meanwhile, Black-ish, starring Anthony Anderson, got the coveted post-Modern Family slot.
ABC Entertainment President Paul Lee told the press that the network is planning to give many of their dramas a split season and air new shows in their breaks. For instance, Captain America spinoff Agent Carter will air in Agents of SHIELD's off period.
|8:00 p||8:30 p||9:00 p||9:30 p||10:00 p||10:30 p|
|Monday||Dancing with the Stars||Castle|
|Tuesday||Selfie||Manhattan Love Story||Marvel's Agents of SHIELD||Forever|
|Wednesday||The Middle||The Goldbergs||Modern Family||Black-ish||Nashville|
|Thursday||Grey's Anatomy||Scandal||How to Get Away with Murder|
|Friday||Last Man Standing||Cristela||Shark Tank||20/20|
|Saturday||Saturday Night Football|
|Sunday||Once Upon a Time||Resurrection||Revenge|
5:41 And we're done.
5:38 "I want to close out with a salute to a moment that we at ABC are incredibly proud of," Lee says, leading into a celebration of Modern Family, which is airing Mitch and Cam's wedding tomorrow. Eric Stonestreet and Jesse Tyler Ferguson then emerge out of a cake, with champagne glasses.
5:33 Lee calls John Ridley's American Crime "maybe our biggest swing." He says, "I don't think I've ever seen a piece of television with as much raw power as this." Ridley and the cast come out to announce the show, which follows a crime through all the lives it affects and deals with questions of race in America. "In short, I think we've been very bold," Ridley says.
5:29 Now, The Whispers, an alien show from Steven Spielberg based on a Ray Bradbury short story. IN the show the aliens prey on the children.
5:25 "I promised you distinct voices and it doesn't get more distinct than this," Lee says of Fresh off the Boat, based on the memoirs of chef Eddie Huang. "This is the quintessential American story."
5:24 Onto ABC's live events sizzle reel and more mentions of the Oscars selfie. ABC just loves Selfies.
5:15 Kimmel opens with a timely groaner about the Solange-Jay Z elevator fight: "Sorry, I was late. I got stuck in the elevator with I think the guy's a rapper..." He quickly gets into the roast of executives. "The ABC I work at is not number one. In fact we might need to crash on your couch for a while," Kimmel cracks, and then moves into jokes about Sweeney's career change. Kimmel hits the network's superhero and fairytale programming: "We may be a terrible network, but we are a great birthday party for a six-year-old."
He throws shade at the now-number one NBC. "The fact of the matter is that CSPAN could have been number one with the Olympics," Kimmel says, and then mentions Bob Greenblatt's nipples. Of NBC's success: "It's like if your adult cousin who works at Arby's all of a sudden got a master's degree." Mark Burnett's pitch of his show A.D. at NBC's upfront as Game of Thrones meets The Borgias meets The Bible gets its deserved smackdown, however. "It's sounds more to me like total meets cluster meets fuck," Kimmel says.
CBS is an easy target, and Kimmel goes after their old viewers and CSI spinoffs. As for Fox, he goes after Gotham. "This is a show for people who love everything about Batman except Batman," he says. Andy Samberg made the same joke about SHIELD at Fox's upfront.
He tells the audience not to get too attached to the new shows. "It's like adopting a kitten with cancer," he says. "Oh, too much? Sorry, well you're going to hate our new show Kittens with Cancer"
5:10 And we're onto the Jimmy Kimmel portion of the event.
5:07 Next up is Agent Carter, which I can't help thinking is Marvel's Agents of SHIELD: The Beginning, but Hayley Atwell is appealing, and the show means Bradley Whitford stays on ABC after the tragic end of Trophy Wife. (Wait, sorry, no. That was apparently footage from the Marvel One Shot.)
5:05 Ioan Gruffudd of Forever is "the strongest male lead in it that we've seen in a very long time," according to Lee, who also notes that the audience will remember him from Fantastic Four. Gruffudd's character is cocky and can't die.
5:01 Lee bills Manhattan Love Story as adhering to traditional gender roles. "It's a classic romantic comedy that shows why men and women have such a hard time getting along," he says. The show has continuous internal monologues from each of its lead characters. The trailer ends with the woman suspecting the man is gay because he starts to cry. Uh.
4:57 Lee notes that ABC is the network with comedies at 8 on Tuesday. The Selfie trailer obviously uses hashtags in dialogue.
4:55 Menken comes out to sing and play a bit of a number about the titular character.
4:50 Lee is throwing a lot on John Ridley's American Crime. "It is such a game changer I want to keep it to last." Instead he goes to midseason's Galavant, a fairytale musical. "It's a literally Spamalot meets Princess Bride," he says. The music is from veteran Alan Menken, but they seem a little, well, lightweight.
4:48 "Cristela Alonzo is nothing short of a natural," Lee says of the star of sitcom Cristela. He compares her to Tim Allen.
4:45 Secrets and Lies with Juliette Lewis and Ryan Philippe is essentially ABC's attempt at a True Detective style anthology series. "We've designed the season vehicle for terrific actors," Lee says of the 10-episode series. He says the next season will be a new case.
4:41 Rhimes and Viola Davis introduce the newest entry. How to Get Away with Murder. The trailer shown at the upfront is initially scored by Lorde's cover of "Everybody Wants to Rule the World," which was also used for the promo for Fox's Hieroglyph. There's a little bit of the plot of Legally Blonde in this show.
4:39 Lee calls out the all-Shonda Thursday. "I call her the Charles Dickens of the 21st Century if Charles Dickens had been black and a woman," he says.
4:35 "You just want to hang out with this family," Lee says about Black-ish. Stars Anthony Anderson and Laurence Fishburne come out to introduce the show. "The opportunity to do our show foolish, I mean Turkish, I mean Yiddish," Fishburne says. Anderson corrects: "Black-ish."
4:32 Lee focuses on the network's diversity. He says the audience is going to see "shows that reflect the changing—no, already changed—face of America." He adds: "We set out to reflect America and we ended up releasing a whole new wave of creativity.
4:30 President of the network's entertainment group Paul Lee comes out. His opening line? "Our shows rock. Okay, that's the ufpront. Do you want to go to the pub?" He quickly segues into ABC's social media prowess. "We are the social network," he says.
4:29 We're onto another sizzle reel, with a bunch of dramatic moments from ABC shows. It then segues into a Jason Derulo montage, featuring John Travolta's Adele Dazeem slip-up prominently. And we're back to dramatic. Note: ABC is really into the Oscars selfie.
4:19 Geri Wang, the president of sales, comes out to give her spiel.
4:12 Co-Chair of Disney Media and President of the Disney–ABC Television Group Anne Sweeney comes out and highlights Disney CEO Bob Iger's attendance. Sweeney mentions all of the "powerful players" involved in ABC: ESPN, Disney, Marvel, Pixar, Lucasfilm. "They are all unstoppable a force as, this is so cool, The Force," she says. It's worth noting that ABC itself isn't doing that well. Sweeney also touts Watch ABC, and focuses on coming social media advances to the app.
4:09 And we're off, with a Disney homage sizzle reel that segues into a general ABC homage, with a lot of Disney thrown in. Now this is cross-promotion: Han Solo, Elsa, and Olivia Pope all make appearances, with "Part of Your World" providing the soundtrack.
4:03 Just like a movie theater, the screen at the upfront has trivia about ABC and its shows.
3:50 p.m. People are filing into Lincoln Center's Avery Fisher Hall. (And we're watching the live stream.)
Manhattan Love Story
How to Get Away with Murder
Fresh Off The Boat
Secrets and Lies
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.