EXCLUSIVE: Michael McDonald, SVP of Drama Development at ABC Studios, has launched his own production company, Stearns Castle, which will be based at the studio. He will be succeeded in running ABC Studios’ drama department by VP drama development Nne Ebong, who is being elevated to SVP, reporting to ABC Studios EVP Patrick Moran. The changeover follows the recent executive restructuring at ABC and ABC Studios by ABC Entertainment Group president Paul Lee, which included Moran taking the full reins of ABC Studios and EVP Barry Jossen segueing to a producing pact with the studio, ABC head of drama Channing Dungey adding movies and miniseries to her purview and the network’s head of comedy Samie Falvey also taking on international scripted development.
McDonald has been at ABC Studios for nine years, the last two heading the drama department. He had been looking to start a production company for awhile, finally getting a green light by ABC and ABC Studios’ new regime. He will develop both comedy and drama series for network, cable and alternate platforms. Additionally, he will creatively consult on various ABC shows. “After 9 amazing years as an executive at ABC Studios, I am finally able to return to my roots as a producer and fulfill the dream of starting my own television company,” McDonald said. “When I first got to Hollywood, I would sit on my stoop on Stearns Drive and talk and dream about this day. It’s finally here. And to do it with the support of Paul, Patrick, and Channing I couldn’t ask for more.“
As head of drama, McDonald shepherded the development of the recently renewed Nashville as well as ABC Studios’ seven new drama series slated to debut this coming season. He previously served as VP current series, supervising the launches of such series as Revenge and Scandal. Prior to that, he was involved in the development of ABC Studios’ Ugly Betty, Desperate Housewives, Reaper and Commander in Chief. Before joining ABC Studios, McDonald worked at UPN, where he developed Kevin Hill and Veronica Mars and oversaw current for Buffy the Vampire Slayer. He started off in producing as VP of Television at Sam Raimi’s Renaissance Pictures, where he served as producer on the syndicated series Xena: Warrior Princess and Hercules: The Legendary Journeys.
Ebong has been with ABC Studios since 2006, when she joined as director of current programming, overseeing Lost, Brothers & Sisters and The Ghost Whisperer. As VP of Drama Development, she has developed such series as Scandal, Once Upon A Time, Revenge and Mistresses as well as the upcoming Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., Once Upon A Time in Wonderland, Betrayal, Lucky 7, Resurrection and Killer Women for ABC and Intelligence for CBS.