ABC Unveils 2011-12 Primetime Schedule
We may have the first head-to-head faceoff of two-hour comedy blocks in years this spring. ABC, which is launching a new Tuesday 8-9 PM comedy block with the Tim Allen starrer Last Man Standing and Chris Moynihan’s Man Up, leading into the Dancing With the Stars result show, plans to extend the block to two hours between the two cycles of Dancing, ABC Entertainment Group president Paul Lee announced at a press conference this morning. In what could be dubbed “men vs. women,” the two comedies with male leads will be followed by Courteney Cox’s Cougar Town and freshman Apartment 23 starring Krysten Ritter. Fox, of course, already has a 8-10 PM comedy block anchored by Glee at 8 PM and announced yesterday that it will convert it into a four-show block in March when Glee goes on hiatus. Since Dancing usually returns at the end of March, there is a good chance for the two four-comedy blocks to go toe to toe for a couple of weeks, a return to the old times when comedy ruled primetime with blocks on virtually every night of the week.

As for choosing modestly rated midseason comedy Happy Endings to replace Cougar Town in the post-Modern Family Wednesday 9:30 PM slot, Lee called the freshman “the new buzz show,” adding, “we think has a huge potential.” He also echoed NBC’s Bob Greenblatt’s sentiment about putting equal emphasis on fall and midseason. “We’re just as ambitious about our midseason launches as we are about the fall,” Lee said, singling out midseason shows Good Christian Belles and The River.

Lee called newbie Charlie’s Angels “pure candy.” When he was later asked about the overall escapism theme in ABC’s crop of new shows, he said: “It’s a time in which we’re looking for pure entertainment. It’s a balance between comfort and escapism.”