TCA Recap: Disney-ABC's First Day Boasts Teen Growth, Throws Daytime Gauntlet
ABC Family chief talks about solidifying the network's voice, while ignoring Pat Robertson, and News president Ben Sherwood makes a bid for "Today" ratings.
The Disney and ABC Television Group kicked off the first of its two-day Television Critics Association winter press tour stint with cable net ABC Family on Monday morning. Network president Michael Riley touted the network’s success with millennials – especially young women – that allowed the Disney-owned network to launch a third night of original programming in 2011, even if they must still play host to controversial television evangelist Pat Robertson’s 700 Club. After a parade of tween-friendly fare and an introduction to the cast of ABC Daytime's soap replacement, The Revolution, ABC News president Bob Sherman made official his intentions to have Good Morning America take down Today. Here are those and other highlights from Monday's sessions in Pasadena.
Regarding Robertson: ABC Family, which acquired the channel from Pat Robertson’s Christian Broadcasting Network, is still obligated under the terms of the sale to air 700 Club, a program that strays quite far from the tone of flagship Pretty Little Liars. “It’s not a show that we put there,” admitted Riley. “I think most viewers understand that. They come to the network to watch the shows they want to watch.”
Switching Gears: At the panel for successful freshman drama Switched at Birth, conversation among the cast and creators focused on the series' deaf characters. "It's shining a beautiful spotlight on the deaf community," co-star Constance Marie told reporters, adding that people are now petitioning their high schools to have American Sign Language (ASL) as a second language. Deaf actor Sean Berdy praised his co-stars for their quick study in sign.
Custom Design: Plugging new series Jane By Design, star Andie MacDowell addressed coming to TV -- and aging in the industry -- while brushing off comparisons to Meryl Streep's character in The Devil Wears Prada. "It's easy to equate them because there are some slight similarities but they really aren't the same thing," she said. Even so, other reporters compared the series to Don't Tell Mom the Babysitter Is Dead, the 1991 film about a teen who scams her way into working at fashion company to help her family, which creator April Blair says she never saw.
The Revolution will be Televised: In response to continued outcry over the cancellation of All My Children and One Life to Live, the cast of soap timeslot filler The Revolution said they hoped viewers won't hold a grudge. "We can't replace that show. What we offer is something different," said co-host Ty Pennington. "I come from Extreme Makeover: Home Edition. That show got canceled too, and that's something that's very very special to me."
Here Today, GMA Tomorrow: ABC News president Ben Sherwood said his goal is to knock Today off of its perch as the top-rated morning news show, a position the NBC News program has occupied for more than 15 years. “The Today show is very mighty and they’ve been very mighty for a very long time,” said Sherwood during the news division’s session on Monday. Joking about the "10 billion weeks" that Today has been No. 1, Sherwood said he wants ABC’s Good Morning America to “topple the Today show.”