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January 18, 2014

ABC entertainment head Paul Lee says soaps are the network's "brand" at 2014 TCA Winter Press Tour

With ABC's newest show pilots slated for spring and summer out for review by TVcritics, Paul Lee, President of ABC Entertainment met with the press at the ABC portion of the Winter Press Tour to share his thoughts on the network's body of shows. As he gave his "State of the Union" for sorts on how the shows currently on the lineup are fairing, Lee feels that serialized dramas such as "Scandal," are the network's bread and butter.

When asked about the now canceled "Body of Proof" starring Dana Delaney, which was a procedural, Lee noted that he hopes the new drama "Mind Games" would be the show that could capture audiences in a serialized way. Lee admits that he didn't think that "Body of Proof" could grow anymore in its time slot. He also feels that serials can be allowed a little more time to find an audience as it plays on other sites such as or Netflix.

"I do think that we're entering a period that we can afford to be a lot more patient, and I for one absolutely welcome that," Lee said of launching shows where 7-day ratings, for example counts. "'Scandal'" was the poster child for this ‑‑ to have a show that's really excellent but people don't discover until maybe they watch on it or Netflix allows you to be more patient and to have shows that stay there for longer.

"We didn't think that "Body of Proof" could grow and we wanted to take two or three swings this season," Lee continued. "We think "Mind Games" is a great example of that, where we could really grow that in that slot, but that is a procedural. To your point, we're not trying to do another serialized show [in that time slot].

Lee also hopes to expand even further on the net's serialized shows, which with "Scandal," "Revenge," "Once Upon a Time," "Grey's Anatomy" and "Nashville," have become the network's most successful format.

"We made it our mission to try and reinvent the soap as we came in," Lee said.
 "We started with"Revenge" and moved on to "Scandal" and "Nashville." It's something that we think fits perfectly with this what I call "Smart with heart" brand and we certainly have some really, really cool soaps that we're developing for next year. So we love soaps. We think they can be classy, which they never had that aura of being. But, look, "Castle" is one of the greatest assets on the network. Love to have it. And if "Mind Games" can become that, we'll be thrilled."

Lee also sited the success of ABC's fall schedule with a look at November sweeps and how the shows grow from their original overnight rating. "Not every show that we do works," Lee admits. "But we've now built up, you know, "Revenge" and "Once" and "Scandal" and "Nashville" and "Middle” and "Modern," and because our audiences are so passionate about those shows, because we have an upscale audience, we get a bigger bump than most of the other networks do, and that's what drives those numbers to grow...shows like "Nashville," when you look at its overnight number ‑‑ you know, and it does a mid 1s. It doesn't look like a great number ‑‑ that show grows 75 percent and does a mid 3s, and many other shows 4s and 5s that go through that. And as you start to look across our schedule as we rebuild it, we now really have building blocks on every night."

The network head also has set his focus on a few time slots that they haven't been able to successfully fill, such as Tuesday at 10:00 p.m, Thursday at 8:00 p.m. and Sunday at 10:00 p.m. Lee had hopes that "Marvel's Agents of the S.H.I.E.L.D" would be the show to start off Tuesdays.

"In these broadcast jobs, you've got to add a couple of assets a year," Lee said. " If you don't do that, you sort of pay for it in the next year, and we really feel now with "S.H.I.E.L.D." and "Goldbergs," we've got a couple of assets that can stay on the network for a very, very long time."

On "S.H.I.E.L.D.," Lee said, "There's going to be this really cool arc to the end of the series ‑‑ to the season -- to the end of the season, and you're going to find out who the Clairvoyant is, and it's going to be very, very cool. So we're very excited about the creative now as we go to the back nine of "S.H.I.E.L.D." We're feeling very, very good about that."
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