8:00am PT by Rick Porter
Live 'Young Frankenstein,' 'Conners' Set at ABC
ABC is expanding its commitment to live programming, slating two events for 2020: a live episode of The Conners in February and a presentation of Mel Brooks' Young Frankenstein musical in the fall.
The Conners will air live Feb. 11, the night of the New Hampshire primary, and will feature a storyline centered on the election results — with actual ABC News coverage incorporated into the broadcast. The cast will perform live for East Coast and West Coast viewers, with election results incorporated into the story in real time.
The episode will have Mark (Ames McNamara) watching primary results for a school project with Harris (Emma Kenney), who's apathetic and believes money's influence on politics makes real change impossible. The rest of the family will also weigh in with their opinions, including that sometimes voters have to choose the candidate who will "screw them the least."
Meanwhile, Louise (Katey Sagal) gets an opportunity that could take her away from Lanford, prompting the family to interfere in Dan's (John Goodman) complicated relationship with her by throwing Louise a surprise going-away party, creating new tension between Dan and daughters Becky (Lecy Goranson) and Darlene (Sara Gilbert).
Young Frankenstein Live will be ABC's latest live musical event, following the successful airing of The Little Mermaid Live in November. That hybrid presentation of live performances mixed in with a showing of the 1989 animated movie drew 9 million viewers for its initial airing, growing to almost 11.7 million after a week of delayed viewing.
The musical is based on the Broadway version of Young Frankenstein, with music and lyrics by Brooks and a book by Brooks and Thomas Meehan. The 2007 Broadway production, which in turn was based on Brooks' 1974 film starring Gene Wilder, Peter Boyle, Cloris Leachman and Marty Feldman, was nominated for three Tony Awards. Casting and an airdate will be announced later.
ABC also aired its most recent Live in Front of a Studio Audience comedy special in December. The restaging of episodes of Norman Lear's All in the Family and Good Times drew 6.68 million viewers with a week of delayed viewing. A third special is set for the spring.
Also at the network's TCA session Wednesday, ABC announced series finale dates for flagship comedy Modern Family and Shondaland drama How to Get Away With Murder. Modern Family will end its 11-season run, during which it won five straight Emmys for best comedy series, on April 8. Additionally, ABC will air a three-hour block of episodes March 11, starting with the 2009 pilot from creators Steve Levitan and Christopher Lloyd and including five other viewer-selected episodes.
How to Get Away With Murder will air its series finale May 14, wrapping six seasons of the legal/mystery thriller starring Viola Davis. The series, created by Pete Nowalk and executive produced by Shonda Rhimes, is set to return from hiatus April 2.
Following Modern Family's finale, American Housewife will move into the 9 p.m. Wednesday slot (it will air at 9:30 p.m. Wednesdays starting March 18). Shark Tank will move from Sunday to Friday nights, where it aired for its first eight seasons, starting Feb. 28.