ABC Daytime president Brian Frons, a primary target of soap fans angry over the cancellation of the network’s veteran daytime dramas All My Children and One Life To Live, will depart ABC after the end of his contract in January, which coincides with the end of OLTL. The Disney/ABC Television Group will consolidate the development and current programming for daytime and syndication with the formation of Times Square Studios, a new division that will be added to the portfolio of ABC Entertainment Group president Paul Lee. It will be run by Vicki Dummer, SVP Current Series & Specials at ABC Entertainment Group, who will be promoted to EVP Times Square Studios, Current Series & Specials. She will also keep her existing responsibilities of head of current for ABC and will continue to report to Lee. (Frons used to report to Disney-ABC TV Group president Anne Sweeney.) With her background as a long-time ABC reality executive and co-head of the unscripted department, Dummer is a suitable choice to lead Times Square Studios as the division will focus its development in the areas of non-scripted lifestyle and health (no more soaps!). The current series that will be folded in the new division going forward include ABC Daytime fare The View, General Hospital, The Chew and the upcoming The Revolution as well as the syndicated Katie and Who Wants To Be A Millionaire. Fellow syndicated series LIVE! With Kelly remains part of the ABC Owned TV Stations Group division. Ann Lewis Roberts, who has overseen development of syndicated programming for Disney’s Buena Vista TV, will serve as SVP West Coast Current Programming & Development, Times Square Studios, while Abra Potkin has been hired as SVP East Coast Programming & Development. Both will report to Dummer.
Frons will assist in the transition to the new structure and provide counsel to the management team. “Brian Frons has been the driving force in our successful Daytime division since joining us in 2002, and while we understand his decision to leave at the end of his contract, we’re sad to see him go,” Sweeney said. “We took this opportunity to rethink our business, and the result was the creation of Times Square Studios. Having it be part of the ABC Entertainment Group, under the supervision of proven executives Vicki Dummer and Paul Lee, provides us the opportunity to bring greater creative resources, development strength and operational flexibility to this key area of our business.”
Frons has been at ABC Daytime for nine years, for the past 5 1/2 years serving as president, Daytime, Disney/ABC Television Group, overseeing the creation and production of all programming on ABC Daytime, SoapNet and ABC Media Prods. “While my decision to try something new was not arrived at easily, nine years is a long time in television terms,” he said. “I’m proud of the performance of ABC Daytime over that time, and of all of the accomplishments that our team achieved along the way. I’m especially pleased by the early results for The Chew and excited for the launch of The Revolution, which will be one more positive step in transforming ABC Daytime for our viewers. I’ll miss my colleagues and the wonderful talent that makes our shows, but know they are in very capable hands with Vicki going forward.” Cooking talk show The Chew, which replaced All My Children, has been doing well in the ratings, posting a series of all-time highs in the past few weeks. Still, he will remain in the annals of daytime history as the man who killed the soaps on ABC.