ABC mulls post-merger exec plan

Potential picks emerge as McPherson assesses units

With the broadcast upfronts over, attention is focusing on ABC, which is piecing together a new executive structure.

ABC said in January it was merging ABC Entertainment and ABC Studios under president Stephen McPherson, but it opted to defer any executive changes until after the end of the development season, with McPherson spending the past few months examining the synergies between the units.

The network has not finalized its development chain of command, but sources have indicated that veteran ABC executive Suzanne Patmore-Gibbs, currently exec vp drama development, would be upped to oversee all scripted development as McPherson's No. 2. The position has been vacant since Francie Calfo left ABC in 2006.

With Patmore-Gibbs elevated, ABC Studios head of drama Channing Dungey is being rumored to step in for her, leading the network's drama development team, and Patmore-Gibbs' top lieutenant at the network, Josh Barry, is being eyed to take over for Dungey on the studio side.

Meanwhile, Rachel Bendavid, who recently left as co-head of Fox's drama department, is expected to join ABC's drama team, and ABC drama exec Jocelyn Diaz is being rumored to depart the network to join HBO, which is looking to fill two recently vacated vp-level development exec positions.

The situation remains murky on the comedy side at ABC/ABC Studios, but speculation is that things might remain status quo, with Samie Kim Falvey and Kevin Plunkett staying as comedy toppers at the network and the studio, respectively.

Additionally, ABC Studios' top creative executive, exec vp Barry Jossen, is being rumored to stay on in a top position.

ABC declined to comment.