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ABC at the January TCA Press Tour, wants to start a Show-Runner Culture

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   As we wrap up January, I'm looking back on some of the highlights of the Winter Press Tour for the Television Critics Association. It's been a treat to be a member of the TCA for about 25 years, and I think I've heard it all, good and bad, from the network suits and producers.
   Over the years I've found that it is very rare to hear top network executives acknowledging that the creative, hands-on, show-running producers know more about the programs then they do. Usually the suits like to tinker with things, even when everything is going well.
   Well, that's why it was so refreshing to listen to ABC Entertainment President Paul Lee at his TCA session.
   Lee said, "My real ambition is to make the ABC studio and the ABC network a real show-runner culture. I think we did a lot of development with very established, great show-runners, and we're also looking to find those new voices that could really redefine television into the future. That combination between a potent brand and empowered show-runners can really give us a chance to succeed going forward."
   ABC is developing shows and its schedule from a position of strength thanks to its mega hit Dancing with the Stars. And the network can be proud of reviving the sitcom genre with its sophomore comedies Modern Family and The Middle, and Cougar Town, all of which got early renewals, along with Castle, Grey's Anatomy, and Private Practice, for the 2011-12 season.
   "You're going to see us pick up comedies and dramas and a combination of procedurals and serialized risk taking shows on different sides," Lee explained.
   He added, "The ABC brand, as I see it, really combines smart with heart, and that is a really unusual combination. We don't always live up to it. But at its very best, we really make culturally defining, smart, big tent, inspirational television. And that's how I see this brand and this network going forward into the future." A good example of that was the phenomenal Lost series, which wrapped its run last season with great fanfare.
   Kudos for Lee and ABC for trusting the creative forces in our industry.

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Guest Sunday, 05 July 2015