TV Upfronts: THR Live-Blogs ABC's Presentation

Get minute-to-minute updates from our staff inside Lincoln Center as network honcho Paul Lee sells his new schedule to advertisers.
Brigitte Sire
Paul Lee

After announcing its 2014-15 schedule and talking to reporters during an early Tuesday conference call, ABC took its turn presenting its lineup to Madison Avenue ad buyers during an afternoon presentation at Lincoln Center.

The Hollywood Reporter's TV Team is inside Lincoln Center in New York and brings you all the action as ABC Entertainment Group president Paul Lee pitches his slate -- including three Shonda Rhimes dramas and two Marvel shows -- to advertisers. Refresh for all the latest insights. (Check out NBC's live-blog here and Fox's here.)

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4 p.m. -- ABC starts with a clip of Walt Disney. And a clip from Frozen (huh?!). Then the standard clip montage still interspersed with movies -- The Avengers, Saving Mr. Banks -- even Return of the Jedi. (What?) Here's Anne Sweeney with her swan song. Maybe she'll announce that she's going to direct an episode of Modern Family (not).

4:12 -- "I love that sizzle!" Sweeney says of the intro clip -- giving nods to primarily cinematic properties Marvel, Pixar and LucasFilm. Together, they are "the force." Get it? Brace yourself for Paul Lee in Jedi robes ...

4:18 -- A new social media feature on its Watch ABC app that will allow viewers to watch a show from four different vantage points at the same time. Did we hear that right?

4:19 -- It's (almost) torch-passing time! Sweeney doesn't have Ben Sherwood share the stage with her, but he does get a shout-out in the crowd and they briefly share a split-screen. "I can't wait to see you up here next year," she says. "Don't forget, I'm still a shareholder."

4:21 -- Calling ESPN and ABC the top networks for men and women, respectively, Wang describes the TV siblings with the not-entirely-un-gross "Mars and Venus have aligned."

4:22 -- Geri Wang, head of sales, says ABC brings on the stats. "When you add up all the viewing on all the platforms, we've got another hit with Resurrection," she says. Hitting on social media stats, she invokes Ellen DeGeneres' Oscar selfie, "the selfie seen 'round the world."

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4:25 - OK, 25 minutes in and we're really talking about ABC shows now. There's an all-TV sizzle of returning properties that starts with Scandal (duh!) Agents of SHIELD (still a darling) and acknowledges those enviable Oscar telecast rights with the last "Adele Dazim" joke that will probably ever seem remotely original.

4:31 -- Paul Lee in the house. "Our shows rock. That's the upfront. Want to go to a pub?" If only. ABC is hitting the emotion, passion theme. A big graphic claims the network has 140 million "social connections." No footnote on what that is about.

4:32 -- Oops. Lee just said ABC has been the No. 1 network for the last four years. He meant weeks -- ABC is No. 4 again this year -- but given the high of a strong midseason, let's let it slide. (If you want unrelenting snark, by all means, head to Twitter.)

4:39 -- Laurence Fishburne and Anthony Anderson are introducing comedy Black-ish (EP Larry Wilmore otherwise engaged). Both go on about how grateful they are to be doing the show and how lucky and grateful they are. If you like Michael Jordan or Muhammad Ali, you might be a little Black-ish," Fishburne says. Based on the clips, it does smack of Bernie Mac, God rest his soul. Clips gets laughs.

4:40 -- Lee's profession of love for Rhimes falls a flat with the crowd: "I call her the Charles Dickens of the 21st century, if Charles Dickens had been black and a woman." (Uh, OK.) There's much more applause when he refers to her as the network's new president of entertainment on Thursday -- it's funny because it's true! -- and those claps had a lot to do with Rhimes gracing the stage with How To Get Away With Murder star Viola Davis. It's always harder to gauge how dramas play with a crowd, but the slick clip gets big big applause.

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4:47 -- Lees introduces midseason replacement for How To Get Away With Murder. More murder: Secrets and Lies, a 10-episode mystery with Ryan Phillippe and Juliette Lewis. Lee says the show will reboot itself for season two with a new cast and a new case at its center. The clip features another dead child -- flashback to Gracepoint on Fox. Moderate applause. Hard to differentiate these shows.

4:48 -- We're two-for-two with diversity in comedy. Highlights of the Cristela pilot lean heavily on the star's Latina-centric humor. Maybe it's the multicam of it all, but it doesn't seem to play half as well as Black-ish. Seems like as good of a pairing with Last Man Standing as any.

4:50 -- Lee says Sunday night will be intact. John Ridley's racially-tinged legal drama American Crime  will replace Resurrection after its run but Lee says he's keeping the details on the show under wraps.

4:52 -- People are suddenly singing about decapitations in the Galavant clip, and no one seems entirely sure what's happening. It's like Robin Hood Men in Tights meets a live-action Shrek. No one claps for the clip, perhaps because people don't know what coming, and all of sudden Alan Menken is on stage singing loglines at a piano. Wow. A lot just happened.

4:59 -- Monday is strong, Lee says, pointing to Dancing With the Stars and Castle. Tuesday, meanwhile, features two new comedies. Emily Kapnek's Selfie is the My Fair Lady update about Elizabeth Dooley -- get it? She's kind of gross and tacky vapid and social-media freak and Henry Higgins gives her a makeover. Seems so much more like a TV movie (Lifetime) than a series. Moderate applause.

5:00 -- It's been an hour and Manhattan Love Story is the first exclusively Caucasian show. Kudos, ABC. There are a few laugh-out-loud moments, courtesy of the leads' (Jake McDorman, Analeigh Tipton) internal monologues during their blind date, and a solid round of applause.

5:03 -- Lee calls star of Forever, set for Tuesday at 10 p.m., the "strongest male lead that we've seen in a long time." It's a procedural about an immortal medical examiner (Ioan Gruffudd). Tag line: "He can solve any mystery except his own." But he may not really be immortal, if you know what we meant.

5:07 -- It's Marvel time! Agent Carter, described as an origin story for ABC's Agents of SHIELD  with Mad Men's stylistic aspirations, doesn't really reveal what it's going to look like. But everyone claps for comics.

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5:14 -- What time is it? It's Jimmy Kimmel time! The clips from the shoe -- hilarious. Really. He starts: "Sorry I'm late I got stuck in the elevator -- I think the guy's a rapper and his wife's a singer?... I don't know. What this No. 1 brand bullshit is but the ABC I work at is not the No. 1 network. In fact we may be sleeping on your couch." He delivers a funny shot at Sweeney and her desire to direct. He's on fire. Citing ABC's multiple Marvel and fairytale shows: "We may be a terrible network but we are a great birthday party for a 6-year-old."

5:15 -- The ABC cracks are coming fast and furious! "Paul saying Black-ish is probably the most white-ish thing I've heard," Kimmel says. Sweeney is also poked fun at for her directing dreams, and Jimmy warns the audience they may soon be getting a LinkedIn invitation.

5:16 -- "The TVs at gas station pumps would be No. 1 with the Olympics," Kimmel says, "and yet [NBC's] Bob Greenblatt was onstage rubbing his nipples the whole time. It's weird seeing NBC doing well, it's like your cousin who works at Arby's."

5:17 -- Without a single "eventizing" mention on Tuesday, Kimmel mocks Fox's Kevin Reilly (and, technically Greenblatt's) use or the made up word to describe his programming.

5:19 -- "Kevin Reilly picked up Gotham -- a show for people who love everything about Batman except Batman. ... We get to watch Bruce Wayne's testicles descend." 

5:20 -- Line (almost) crossed! Kimmel compares buying advertising on ABC's new shows to "adopting a kitten with cancer." There are groans until he quickly responds, "Too soon? You're really not going to like our new show, Kittens With Cancer."

5:28 -- And now a montage of clips from live events. These include the selfie again -- Oscar, not the new series, that is -- and a bunch of awards shows. Unsolicited opinion: Kimmel should be the last thing because it's ending on a high note. But after these clips, we're talking midseason shows. Fresh Off the Boat is about an immigrant family and is offensive or funny -- or both. Possibly both.

5:30 -- Spoiler alert: invisible aliens trick a little girl into killing her mother in the opening of The Whispers promo, and there were multiple gasps in the room. Guess that's what you want from a thriller, though. Let's retroactively gauge every trailer from this week by its gasps. In all seriousness, the clip was slick and set a very different tone to anything else that's been trotted out so far.

5:37 -- OK, now Lee is talking about John Ridley's 10-episode series, American Crime. Ridley , hot off winning the Oscar for the 12 Years a Slave script, says ABC approached him with only one mandate: to be bold. Ridley says, "This challenges ideas about race in a way typically not done on television." We start with murder -- again. It looks very intense and indeed atypical. Timothy Hutton and Felicity Huffman star.

5:38 -- The presentation wraps with a wedding! Stars Eric Stonestreet and Jesse Tyler Ferguson roll out in a wedding cake, in honor of Wednesday's big gay Modern Family. It's a nice celebratory way to end the show.