ABC doesn't lose its head

McPherson stays put with multiyear extension

After months of negotiations, Stephen McPherson has inked a new multiyear deal with ABC to continue as entertainment president.

The pact eliminates any uncertainty about the network's leadership days before the network's brass is slated to unveil its fall lineup to advertisers at its upfront presentation in New York.

With his previous pact set to expire in the spring, rumors were swirling early in the year that McPherson might leave the network he helped turn around.

Under McPherson, ABC has significantly improved its fortunes in the past four years, moving up from fourth to second place among adults 18-49. The network also netted about $2.4 billion in last year's upfront market.

"Steve is one of the most influential programmers of his generation," said Anne Sweeney, co-chairman of Disney Media Networks and co-chairman of Disney-ABC TV Group. "Under his leadership, ABC has become a primetime powerhouse."

McPherson took the reins of ABC in April 2004, following a stint as president of Touchstone TV.

Shortly after his move to the network, he picked up three projects that he had developed at the studio — "Desperate Housewives," "Lost" and "Grey's Anatomy" — have become ABC staples.

During his tenure at ABC, the network also added to its lineup hit "Dancing With the Stars," solid performers "Brothers & Sisters" and "Ugly Betty" and, most recently, the strongest slate of last year's fall freshman series with "Dirty Sexy Money," "Private Practice," "Pushing Daisies" and "Samantha Who?" (partialdiff)