ABC adds 14 new shows for next season
This publicity image released by ABC shows Clark Gregg, left, Brett Dalton, standing, and Chloe Bennet in a scene from "Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.," a new series picked up by ABC for the 2013-2014 season. (AP Photo/ABC, Bob D'Amico)
NEW YORK (AP) — ABC is cutting its aging "Dancing With the Stars" back to two hours and one night next season, creating a slot for a new drama series based on the Marvel Comics world that's aimed at expanding the network's audience, its programming chief said Tuesday.
Condensing the celebrity dancing contest on Monday night "opens up Tuesday for a pretty aggressive play," said Paul Lee, ABC Entertainment Group president, whose network became the third of the major broadcasters to announce its 2013-14 schedule. The network's entire Tuesday lineup for the fall is made up of new series.
"Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.," from hit-maker Joss Whedon of "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" and "The Avengers" films, will help broaden the audience for ABC, which is the network leader among young adult women, Lee said. The comic-book based series presumably will attract some younger men to the network. "Dancing With the Stars" is big with older women.
The celebrity dancing contest, although still a ratings winner for ABC in its 16th season, has seen its overall audience decline and grow older, an issue for networks that get higher commercial ad rates for younger viewers.
Asked about how he felt putting "S.H.I.E.L.D." on at 8 p.m. EDT Tuesday against TV's top-rated drama, "NCIS" on CBS, Lee said the ABC drama will draw a different audience and has a built-in fan base from the Marvel franchise.
During a Tuesday afternoon network presentation to advertisers that included clips of the new series, Whedon said that "what I loved about 'The Avengers' became 'S.H.I.E.L.D.'"
The audience's warmest response, including a standing ovation, was for Barbara Walters, 83, who announced this week that she planned to retire from television, including as co-host of ABC's "The View." ABC late-night host Jimmy Kimmel's barbed jokes also went over big with the crowd.
He chided Madison Avenue for spending millions of ad dollars on a "network that rolled a 400-pound comedian off a diving board," a reference to the ABC reality show "Splash" and contestant Louis Anderson. Kimmel also took shots at the competition: "NBC is on a roll, aren't they. ... No, not a roll. A spiral."
Among ABC's other new dramas are "Once Upon a Time in Wonderland," a spinoff from the fairy tale series "Once Upon a Time," and the Steven Spielberg-produced "Lucky 7," about a group of gas station employees who win the lottery.
Lee also touted the network's new comedies, especially "Super Fun Night," written by and starring "Bridesmaids" breakout star Rebel Wilson as a single young attorney, and "The Goldbergs," about a geeky preteen growing up in the 1980s who puts his family's antics on videotape.
ABC is introducing a total of 14 new shows next season, following other networks that also have hefty freshman programming slates: Fox said Monday it's adding 11 new shows and is making its largest financial investment ever, and NBC said it would introduce 17 new series.
ABC will take a less traditional approach to scheduling, Lee said, breaking some of its series into two sets of 12 episodes with a break between them to avoid airing repeats. The gap will be filled by limited-run shows, including dramas, he said.