May 12, 2015 2:25 PM
ABC sets 10 new series for next season; Muppets on board
The Associated Press
NEW YORK (AP) ABC is adding a fourth drama next season from its favorite producer, Shonda Rhimes, and bringing the Muppets to prime time in a series with both adult and kid appeal, the network said Tuesday.
Shondaland production company's fraud investigation drama "The Catch," starring Mireille Enos, is one of 10 new series for ABC's 2015-16 schedule.
Rhimes' other series for ABC are "Scandal," ''How to Get Away with Murder" and "Grey's Anatomy," which is returning for its 12th season without the dearly departed Dr. McDreamy (Patrick Dempsey).
"The Muppets" is a mockumentary style comedy in the manner of "The Office" and "Modern Family" that looks at the famed puppets' personal lives.
"It's a grownup Muppets," said ABC Entertainment Group president Paul Lee.
ABC is extending the emphasis on diversity that brought "black-ish" and "Fresh Off the Boat" to its schedule last season.
Both comedies were renewed for next season and will be joined by the new "Dr. Ken," starring Ken Jeong of "Community" and "The Hangover" as a brilliant doctor with a poor bedside manner.
The major broadcast networks are unveiling their new season line-ups to advertisers in New York this week.
ABC's freshman slate will include six dramas and four comedies. Sharing network space with the Muppets is the drama "Wicked City," which aims to capitalize on L.A. history with such cases as a 1982 murder set in the "rock 'n' roll, cocaine-infused revelry of the Sunset Strip," as ABC put it. On the comedy front, there's a remake of the 1989 John Candy movie "Uncle Buck," with Mike Epps in the role of an irresponsible cutup.
The network is bidding farewell to canceled dramas "Forever" and "Resurrection" and the Latino family comedy "Cristela," which was part of the network's move toward diversity last season.
"The Real O'Neals," a comedy that drew criticism from religious and conservative groups even before ABC announced it would be airing, is described as a "fresh take" on a seemingly ideal Catholic family whose lives are upended when a son comes out as gay. The lightning rod: Among its executive producers is Dan Savage, a gay rights activist who writes a blunt sex advice column.
ABC, which doesn't shy away from over-the-top dramas (again, it is Rhimes' stomping ground) is adding what Lee called two "big, muscular" soap operas to its schedule. One is "Of Kings and Prophets," which continues the recent TV trend of using the good book as a source and which will offer "all the intrigue and sex and power struggles of the real Bible. ... It's truly the original dynastic soap opera," Lee said. The other is "Oil," set in the booming North Dakota oil fields and with an ensemble cast including Don Johnson and Delroy Lindo.
ABC is calling on the talents of respected actors including Joan Allen, who stars in "The Family," about the mysterious reappearance of a politician's son who vanished a decade before. British TV and film actor Ray Winstone will play King Saul in "Of Kings and Prophets," while "The Catch" star Enos made a splash in "The Killing."
ESPN is making moves in the morning designed to bask in the glow of ABC's top-rated "Good Morning America," its corporate cousin.
The network said Tuesday it is speeding up its morning "Sportscenter" to fit the pace of the time of day, and will work to share personnel and stories with "GMA." ESPN2's morning talk show "Mike & Mike" will move next year from its Connecticut studio to the same Times Square building where "GMA" originates in New York.
Not surprisingly, ESPN executives were quick to tell advertisers that it will sell ad packages that include all three shows.
The free-spending days when CBS hired The Who and Turner Networks brought in The Eagles to entertain at its advertising presentations are over. But Univision echoed those days Tuesday, when it booked Bill Clinton to open its show and Ricky Martin to close it.
AP Television Writer David Bauder contributed to this report