ABC Seeking Big Provocative Soap, Light Crime Drama & Adult Comedy This Development Season

Karey Burke
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In her first full development season, ABC Entertainment President Karey Burke will be pursuing the goal she set for herself when she joined ABC last December — to bring back female viewers to ABC and reclaim the title as No.1 network with women. She is looking to do that by developing shows that would attract women while also not alienating ABC’s male viewers.


Top priority is finding “a big, provocative soap,” Burke told Deadline. Provocative does not mean sexy, she was quick to clarify. Instead, the word refers to bold, loud storytelling. It could be a family soap but the setting also could be workplace or sci-fi, Burke said, pointing to past ABC hits Lost and Desperate Housewives as examples. Burke also is open to a franchise soap like ABC’s flagship drama, the venerable Grey’s Anatomy.


Also on the wish list for one-hour series is finding a strong “crimedy,” Burke said, using a term coined by Bones creator Hart Hanson. It refers to a crime drama with comedic elements in the vein of Bones or ABC’s Castle. Burke pointed to new ABC PI drama Stumptown, headlined by former How I Met Your Mother star Cobie Smulders as having some “crimedy” DNA but it also has dark moments, Burke noted.

On the half-hour side, ABC will continue to cater to its signature brand of family comedy but will also look to add adult comedy fare. Bless This Mess, which ABC added in midseason in turnaround from Fox, where it had been originally developed and piloted, is a good example of an ABC adult comedy, Burke said.


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