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Starting the day with a joke about a project it seems only he loves, cross-dressing comedy Work It, ABC Entertainment boss Paul Lee resolved that the as yet unscheduled Cougar Town will likely return in March, addressed ratings disappointments for Pan Am and Charlie’s Angels and touted the network’s success with Revenge and Suburgatory before rolling out a day previewing the net’s midseason offerings.
From Don’t Trust the B—- in Apartment 23’s title to Desperate Housewives’ legacy to showrunners discussing the state of comedy, here are Tuesday’s highlights from ABC’s second day at the Television Critics Association’s winter press tour.
Executive Suite: “So what do you think of Work It?” That’s how Lee opened his executive session. Peddaling the network’s midseason lineup, including The River, Scandal and Don’t Trust the B—- in Apartment 23, Lee defended his strategy to keep Cougar Town on the bench until March and insisted he wasn’t quite ready to give up on the network’s struggling airline period drama Pan Am.
Bitch Time: Don’t Trust the B—- in Apartment 23 producers talked skewering Hollywood via co-star James Van Der Beek, being fans of Dawson’s Creek and debated the title’s effectiveness. Creator Nahnatchka Khan noted the first two words set the tone for the midseason comedy about a naive girl from the Midwest (Dreama Walker) who winds up living with a morally challenged roommate (Krysten Ritter).
A ‘River’ Runs Through It: The River executive producers touted its ongoing mythology as well as its episode-of-the-week format, noting that each hour of the horror series will feature new monsters and mysteries. River, about a family who searching the Amazon for their missing father, a noted TV host who went missing looking for mystery deep in the jungle, will appeal to fans of the genre with characters viewers can invest in.
Belles of the Ball: GCB executive producer Robert Harling said the Dallas-set soap, about a reformed mean girl (Leslie Bibb) forced to move back to Dallas and face her old gossipy and church-going high school friends, will be respectful when it comes to organized religion. “We’re doing a show where the church is the center,” he noted. “A church is sacred and you have to be aware and respectful of faith systems. The joy of it is watching these people try to function within these rules. The goal is to watch people try to be good.”
The Business of Comedy: Eileen Heisler, DeAnn Heline (The Middle), Emily Kapneck (Suburgatory), Steve Levitan (Modern Family), David Caspe and Jonathan Groff (Happy Endings) touched on the state of comedy, the single-camera format and the laugh track during the Wednesday Comedy Showrunners session. “Living in L.A., you sometimes hear the sound of coyotes eating cats, that’s what a laugh track sounds like to me,” Levitan quipped. “I just can’t take it anymore.”
Scandalous: Grey’s Anatomy creator Shonda Rhimes noted she didn’t want to do another show until executive producer Betsy Beers insisted she meet with crisis consultant Judy Smith. A 15-minute meeting turned into a few hours and Rhimes “saw 100 episodes and an incredibly interesting world.” And so the Kerry Washington starrer was born.
‘Missing’ Action: Star Ashley Judd said she filmed a lot of the stunts that appear on the action drama — including jumping into the Seine — herself. Producers also used the TCA platform to touch on the creative direction of the series about a mother and former CIA operative on the hunt for her missing son. Hint: the story will self-contain this season.
Fond Farewell: The cast and creators of Desperate Housewives looked back on their favorite moments (Marc Cherry says Beau Bridges guest starring in the 100th episode), dropped cryptic hints about the series finale and plans for how they’ll spend their impending free time (lots of talk of sleep). Plus: Cherry put the kibosh on a potential movie and vowed to make good on his pledge to cameo in the series finale.
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