At ABC’s executive session this morning ABC chief Paul Lee fielded questions about the state of the cast salary renegotiations on Modern Family, which have been difficult and resulted in a lawsuit and a table read rescheduling this week. “I expect the season to start on time,” Lee said. “We are in the middle of negotiations, and we’re hopeful and optimistic we will be able to resolve it”. While negotiations are led by Modern Family producer 20th Century Fox TV, “we are with 20th in this, we are full partners”, Lee said. I hear Lee and ABC’s head of business affairs Jana Winograde have been very involved in the process. The network will take over production cost for the show in a couple of years.
Lee also was asked about the top BBC job that he was reportedly offered but didn’t pursue. “I’m living the dream why would I”, Lee said. “I have one of the best jobs in television, I love this job. I’ve been in the U.S. for 15 years, and my sons are American, my family are Americans. I love ABC, it’s a brand I’m loyal to”‘.
Despite the fact that ABC’s schedule only features two multicamera comedies next season, Last Man Standing and Malibu Country, both on Friday, Lee reaffirmed the network’s commitment to the multicamera genre and confirmed that ABC will be “re-piloting” its multi-camera pilot from this past season, Kings Of Van Nuys, which is based on one of Lee’s favorite British series, Only Fools And Horses. The pilot script has now been reworked, and deals are being made with the entire original cast, led by John Leguizamo, to return.
Lee also addressed the decision to move new comedy The Neighbors from 9:30 PM on Wednesday to 8:30 PM after a premiere behind Modern Family. “I did want to protect it; I certainly felt that suited the show better,” he said. “(Creator) Dan Fogelman is incredibly smart writer, and we are loving the scripts for this show.” Additionally, “I feel Neighbors sits better between The Middle and Modern Family the way Suburgatory is a really good bridge from Modern Family to Nashville.” Lee raved about new drama Nashville, which he said “transcends country.”
Lee has high hopes for the second season of Shonda Rhimes’ midseason drama Scandal. “It is still a little bit underrated, it started a little bit slowly but really found its punch towards the end of the (season).” As for Rhimes’ other two series on ABC, “I think you’ve seen the major moves,” Lee said of Grey’s Anatomy, which saw the departure of three regulars, Chyler Lee, Eric Dane and Kim Raver. “Shonda has maintained the the creative dynamism on the show for such a long time; I love to see her taking risks and reinventing the show every year.” There is no decision yet to brand the upcoming season of Private Practice a last one despite the pending departure of star Kate Walsh. “We’re looking at various options,” Lee said.
Lee also said he doesn’t regret going with summer series Duets and Glass House, none of which have performed well. “It was a good swing and we will continue to do it,” he said of Glass House.