If the stars and negotiations align, Modern Family should continue as planned.
"I expect the season to start on time," ABC chief Paul Lee told reporters at the Television Critics Association fall TV previews on Friday. "We're in the middle of negotiations. We're hopeful and optimistic to resolve it."
Stars of the Emmy-winning comedy had skipped out of a scheduled table read on Tuesday over a salary dispute and filed a lawsuit against 20th Century Fox. They returned two days later for the table read, but the negotiations are still underway. When asked about a contingency plan, if no agreement is reached, he added, "I don't want to discuss hypotheticals... we'll come back to you guys with an answer."
Check out other highlights from the executive session with Lee:
Nashville strong: Lee is gung-ho about ABC's new country music drama starring Connie Britton and Hayden Panettiere. "There is a rhythm to that show that is so unexpected," he said. "Nashville transcends country music. It's one of those great dramas. I watched Dallas as a kid, but was I a fan of oil? I don't think so... the music is great with this. The fact that both Hayden and Connie are singing is gutsy for them. They're great singers."
Dancing with the Beek: After announcing the all-star cast of this season's Dancing with the Stars, Lee said it was likely that Apt. 23's James Van der Beek and Dean Cain may show up in the Dancing audience, considering the references to the reality show in the comedy. "I think it's a wonderful idea," he said. "James has a sense of humor."
The Rookie Blue model: "Rookie Blue is such a great player for us. It came out in the summer," said Lee. "We have not made a decision to put it in the season. We're actually looking for next summer to do more plays like that."
A twist of reality fate: Neither of ABC's new summer reality programs -- Duets and The Glass House -- connected with viewers and fizzled in the ratings. "I think the key is in the execution and in the hook or twist. [Duets' twist of having superstars sing with wannabes] did not resonate with the audience, but we love it." As for the CBS lawsuit accusing The Glass House of similarities to Big Brother, Lee said, "It was totally worth it... We were right. That lawsuit is over."
Sorry, soaps fans: There are no regrets about canceling All My Children or One Life to Live. "We're very pleased with The Chew. It has great energy," said Lee. "It'll be a huge asset for us in the holiday season... Our focus is on General Hospital and the crossovers."
Speaking of soaps: "Revenge has made soaps cool again. There's nothing wrong with serialized drama," said Lee.
And more action for the ladies: ABC expects its upcoming military drama Last Resort to appeal to both genders. "The story itself is very emotional," Lee said. "It definitely has action in it, but it'll be very strong for women too. Shawn Ryan is such a great showrunner. He knows exactly where the show is going. We very much feel ABC has a brand: smart with heart. We love great emotional storytelling, we take risks.