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JAN
10
3 YEARS

TCA: 'Cougar Town' Likely to Return in March

One day after showrunner Bill Lawrence hosts his own TCA cocktail party, ABC Entertainment chief Paul Lee confirms that the show will return to the schedule.

Cougar Town
ABC

Cougar Town is likely to return in the March, said ABC Entertainment president Paul Lee. The news comes as Cougar Town showrunner Bill Lawrence – having been excluded from the network’s TCA day – hosted his own party for television reporters at the Langham Huntington Hotel in Pasadena on Monday night.

“We’re going to give [Cougar Town] a really good launch pad,” said Lee, adding that he thinks the show could be part of a block of “young comedies” with Happy Endings and midseason entrant Don’t Trust the B--- in Apartment 23.

For his part, Lawrence suspects that Cougar Town, which is an ABC Studios production, will get the nod when cross-dressing comedy Work It inevitably fails. Cougar Town had its original 22 episode order shortened to 15 after ABC announced a pickup for Work It. The latter show has been critically excoriated and had an underwhelming premiere Tuesday, Jan. 3 in the 8:30 p.m. slot after Tim Allen’s Last Man Standing.

Lawrence said he did not run his party plan by ABC brass. “I don’t work for ABC anymore,” he said, referring to his deal with Warner Bros. “I think they didn’t want me to do it before Paul does his thing tomorrow.”

Indeed, Lee was asked about Cougar Town early in his executive-session address to reporters on Tuesday morning.

Lawrence’s cocktail mixer, as well as the Cougar Town tour, are part of a “grass roots” campaign to keep the show – which will have been off the air for more than a year – in the minds of critics and fans.

“I love Bill. He does a great job of getting an audience around a show,” Lee said rather diplomatically.

But Lawrence is fighting an uphill battle.

“If this show is canceled three months from now, then I think ABC treated us like crap,” said the famously outspoken Lawrence. “If they pick the show up, I’ll be happy.”

The Cougar Town cast, which includes Courteney Cox and Lawrence’s wife Christa Miller (who attended the cocktail party), are now shooting episode 12.

Lawrence says he does not think he necessarily pays a price in Hollywood for being so outspoken.

“I think you could run over someone’s dog, and if you have something that’s worth money, they’ll put it on the next day,” he said.

Email: Marisa.Guthrie@thr.com

Twitter: @MarisaGuthrie