ABC to Launch Tuesday Comedy Block with Tim Allen's 'Last Man Standing'
Paul Lee’s first slate as ABC Entertainment Group president is in keeping with the network’s current DNA of soapy, female-skewing dramas. But it also harks back to the net’s roots in comedy with a new Tuesday block anchored by Tim Allen’s Last Man Standing at 8 p.m. leading into Man Up, about a trio of male friends who decide to take a stand against emasculation. See ABC's entire schedule.
“It’s part of my job to be inclusive and bring men in too,” said Lee during a press briefing on Tuesday.
He stressed that Wednesday sitcom Modern Family – which will stay put at 9 p.m. next season – is popular with female and male viewers. But he acknowledged that he would like to have more men watching the network in general.
“I think the comedies give us a chance to be balanced,” he said. “But I don’t want you to get the impression that we don’t love and don’t love to super serve our core female affluent audience.”
To that end, ABC this fall will bow Once Upon a Time, Charlie’s Angels, Revenge and Pan Am. All four dramas have female leads and most are serialized a la Desperate Housewives.
Angels – which Lee described as “pure candy” – will lead off Thursday night, while Once Upon and Time and Pan Am will air Sundays at 8 p.m. and 10 p.m., respectively. If introducing two new dramas on one night is something of a gamble, Lee expects the aging but still successful Housewives to provide a “great launch pad.”
Suburgatory, about a single father raising his teenage daughter in the suburbs, is the lone new comedy entry on Wednesdays in the fall. It will air at 8:30 p.m. after The Middle while Happy Endings will move to 9:30 p.m.
All in all, Lee ordered 13 new series – eight dramas and five comedies – a hefty slate to fill a schedule that this year will see only two new series return: Happy Endings and the Dana Delany drama Body of Proof.
The network will use big event telecasts including the NBA finals, the Oscars and its New Year’s Eve special to give new series a promotional push.
Lee has a lot on the shelf for midseason – or earlier if schedule holes arise – including: dramas Good Christian Belles; Paranormal Activity writer/director Oren Peli’s The River; Shonda Rhimes’ Washington, D.C. set Scandal; and Missing starring Ashley Judd. Comedies waiting in the wings are Apartment 23 and Work It. And Lee said he's likely to expand the Tuesday comedy block to two hours next season with Cougar Town and Apartment 23 going into the 9 p.m. hour between cycles of Dancing with the Stars.
Lee stressed the need for fresh content throughout the season and said that at the moment he is eyeing Good Christian Belles and The River for next spring. “We’re just as ambitious in midseason,” he said. “We want to have more sustained originals. We felt that we had a very strong development season. We wanted to have launches year-round. And it’s a combination of a few holes that we absolutely had to fill and we wanted to take advantage of a strong opportunity [with development].”