"We wanted ABC to be a smart, emotional network," Paul Lee, president of ABC Entertainment Group, said at the Television Critics Association winter previews on Wednesday. "That's starting to be successful for us."
Lee also claimed that branding is a huge part of ABC's strategy that includes diversity. "It's our job to reflect America," he said. "We didn't pick up these shows because they were diverse. We picked them up because they were great." For the most part, ABC does well with diversity. But on a network that includes Grey's Anatomy, Scandal, How to Get Away with Murder, Black-ish, Cristela and the upcoming Fresh Off the Boat, the Bachelor franchise sticks out with its mostly monochromatic leading men (see: Farmer Chris).
"You are going to see diversity," Lee promised, although he acknowledged that Farmer Chris was not a shining example. Sadly, the last time the Bachelor franchise tried to "reflect America," we got Juan Pablo Gavaris, who was not a great representation of humanity, never mind Latinos.
Lee skirted many questions with double-speak, but here's what else we learned from the executive session:
Dancing with the Stars, ABC's reality dancing series will premiere its next season on Monday, March 16 at 8/7c.
AFV The long-running parade of schadenfreude will celebrate its 25th anniversary with a special milestone episode on Sunday, Feb. 15 at 7/6c and will feature celebrity guests from ABC's comedies Black-ish and Cristela.
Jimmy Kimmel Live! Kimmel will be taking his show to Texas to film during the South by Southwest festival in March.
Revenge Lee said that the series is critical to ABC's brand, but that the network has yet to decide where to go with it. He did say that it has great story lines coming up and has ways to reinvent itself.
American Crime, Secrets and Lies Both crime series are "constructed in the True Detective mold," so that they could return with new crimes in subsequent seasons. American Crime would bring back its core characters — which includes those played by Felicity Huffman and Timothy Hutton — but with Secrets and Lies, most likely only Juliette Lewis' detective character would return.
Fresh off the Boat Eddie Huang, the restauranteur who wrote the memoir on which the upcoming series is based, is not a fan of how his book has been adapted for television and detailed his disgruntlement in a piece for Vulture. "We love Eddie. He's a firebrand," Lee said, but added that the series is a comedy and not a documentary.
Shark Tank Lee said that the show is in good shape and that ABC is "optimistic" about negotiations to get Mark Cuban and the other Sharks back for the future.
Reality In a few weeks, ABC will announce a "really cool reality show" for the summer that will not include singing because obviously the network has learned from the disasters that were Duets and Rising Star. A new person will also be announced to take over for Lisa Berger, who was fired as the head of ABC's unscripted division in November.
Nashville Similarly, ABC will make announcements soon about high-profile guest stars coming to Nashville.