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Upfronts 2012: THR Live-Blogs Paul Lee's ABC Presentation

Paul Lee
© Disney

THR's Editor-at-Large Kim Masters provides live updates from New York as the network chief lays out plans for the 2012-13 season.

ABC Entertainment Group president Paul Lee prepares to sell “delicious” and “brilliant” new shows to advertisers at the Lincoln Center. New tagline: “Why just watch when you can feel?” (Shouldn’t it be, “Why just watch when you can taste?”)

4 p.m. It’s coming down in New York. Local weather guy Sam Champion is on the monitor in bright blue raingear giving the forecast and promising buses to Grand Central or Port Authority to calm nervous commuters. The games have yet to begin. Before they do, we remind you that the highlight of upfronts week is Jimmy Kimmel at the ABC presentation, eviscerating all the networks including his own. How fast can we type? We’ll do our best. Promise.

4:07 p.m. ABC kicks off with a video promoting the idea that TV promotes togetherness. “When we share great stories, they touch are hearts and feed our souls.” That’s definitely how we feel about Scandal. And here is the amazingly lifelike Anne Sweeney to warm up the crowd. She cites ABC stats. “Our bachelors may not stay engaged but our audience does.” She gets a laugh. She introduces president of ABC sales.

4:20 p.m.  Lots more stats from sales chief and highlight clips. Here's Paul Lee hitting the "why just watch when you can feel?" theme. Uh oh! Where is Kimmel? Lee is doing the spiel. "We've developed the technology to bring big-screen spectacle to television...Enough crowing--it's very un-British." He's going like lightning. Here's the cast of Once Upon a Time introducing clips of returning shows.

4:30 p.m. Lee is back. America's Funniest Vids returns after running through "eleven presidents of entertainment" on his network. Next is 666 Park Ave. Sexy and supernatural. Doesn't appear to take itself too seriously. Desperate Housewives tone. Moderate applause. Monday is intact. Lee's wife likes it.

Tuesday ABC launches "incredibly inappropriate" comedy block. Happy Endings, Don't Trust the B. A great lead-in to Private Practice, he says. Mid-season: How to Live with Your Parents etc. Moderate applause again. Then The Family Tools. Moderate applause.

4:38 p.m. On to Wednesday night. Winner! Modern Family--"the defining comedy of our time." Huge applause and cheers as Lee introduces the cast. Ed O'Neill intros clips from returning shows. This audience can laugh hard. Given a reason. (Modern Family, Suburgatory, etc. Especially Modern Family.)

New show getting prime spot behind Modern Family -- The Neighbors. Premise: Third Rock from the Sun. Aliens are neighbors. Moderate applause. Hard to see from the clips of it is worthy of that spot.

Finally, at 10, Nashville, the country soap. Looks kinda girly. From the writer of Thelma and Louise. So.

4:48 p.m. Kimmel!! Video package intro. He's celebrating 10 years on ABC. Tom Cruise: "Jimmy? I've been calling him Timmy."

4:52 p.m. Kimmel's best lines:

"I'll be honest, I'm sick of it. How many times do I have to tell you this is bullshit?"
"The fact that Paul Lee greenlit Work It tells you all you need to know about what the British think of us."
"Paul Lee stayed at the network because ABC has something the BBC will never have. Dental."
"NBC -- spinning chairs and a monkey. This is the golden era of television."

This audience definitely can laugh. Given a reason.

"Paula Abdul is the Rosa Parks" of crazy on television --"dedicated and medicated."
"CBS -- best in the '18 to 49 trips to the bathroom' demographic."

5:00 p.m. Lee is back to intro Last Resort. How good is Andre Braugher? He's an eye-magnet. This is the nuclear-sub-going-rogue show. Braugher makes it look smart. Creator Shawn Ryan is smart so maybe it's not just Braugher. Then Grey's Anatomy and Scandal.

Friday -- new comedy block. New show is Malibu Country. Reba McEntyre and Lily Tomlin as her mom. Tomlin doesn't get one funny line in the clips. Looks broad. Middle America might like it. The advertisers? Not so much.

5:10 p.m. Lee is ripping along. An hour in and he's rounding the bend. Midseason he'll have Mistresses. More soap. Mistresses of many ethnicities. Also Red Widow from Melissa Rosenberg -- did you know she wrote Twilight? That is, after it was a book. Story of a reluctant mob ally. Who knows?

Lee closes with producer Lorenzo DiBuonaventura's show, with Zero Hour, with Anthony Edwards. Conspiracy show: "If you knew the real truth, you would lose your mind." Feels like a set-up line for Jimmy Kimmel. Maybe.
Lee is done! Bravo for brevity. Nothing leaped out but it moved. We leave with Kelly Clarkson, John Legend and Robin Thicke of this summer's Duets singing us out.

That's all, folks.