Cougar Town is coming back. We still just don't know when.
Addressing reporters at the winter TV previews, ABC Entertainment President Paul Lee said the network is fully behind the Courteney Cox-fronted comedy that has been on the bench since last May. He did not, however, give an exact premiere date for the show's third season.
"The reality is that Cougar Town is having one of its best [seasons]," Lee said. "I think you'll find when we launch it, that we'll bring a big, strong message that we love the show. We haven't yet landed where it's going to go, but it's tentatively in there for March. ... We have a good launch pad for it. We didn't have a place earlier on, but when it comes, we hope it will do extremely well."
In fact, Lee would love for the show to eventually be part of a second comedy block for the network, which could include Happy Endings and midseason comedy Don't Trust the B---- in Apartment 23. "It would be great to have a group of young irreverent comedies together," Lee said. "That's a little bit of a dream for the future, but I'd love to have Cougar Town as a part of that."
Speaking of Happy Endings and Apartment 23, the latter will take over the former's post-Modern Family timeslot beginning Wednesday, April 11 at 9:30/8:30c.
Other highlights from Lee's executive session:
What's in Grey's Anatomy's future if Ellen Pompeo or Patrick Dempsey don't renew their contracts? While Lee wouldn't comment on the ongoing contract negotiations, he made it clear that the show will soldier on no matter what happens. "Grey's [is] creatively still at the top of its form," Lee said. "And [creator Shonda Rhimes] has a vision like no one else. She knows what she's doing and she knows where she's going. We've heard her vision, not just for the end of this season but beyond, and it's really, really strong. I'm feeling very good about the show."
Private Practice is getting a tryout on a new night. ABC is giving Rhimes' latest show, Scandal, the post-Grey's launch pad beginning Thursday, April 5 at 10/9c. That means Private Practice's air on Tuesdays at 10/9c behind the Dancing with the Stars results show from April 24-May 15.
Seriously, Paul, what were you thinking with Work It? Lee stood his ground supporting the critically reviled cross-dressing comedy that premiered Jan. 3. "I looked at our portfolio of shows, and certainly, I wanted to bring some new types of shows," Lee said. "We certainly thought there was room for some ambitious shows, some really sexy, sticky shows like Revenge and Scandal, and some sophisticated, smart shows like Suburgatory. I thought there was room, personally, for a very, very, very silly show, and I tried it. We'll see where it goes."
Lee's proud of the network's strong fall launches of Revenge and Once Upon a Time. "We did a good job of standing out from the clutter," Lee said. "[Executive producer] Mike Kelley is doing such a great job with Revenge. I adore that show. It's sexy, it's sticky... you just want more of that show. ... We knew [Once] was an amazing piece of storytelling. ... You're always so disappointed that things don't work and so surprised that they do. And in this particular case, it was great to see that incredibly well-made television worked."
Is Body of Proof in danger of being canceled? Lee wouldn't say for sure, but he said that the producers are trying some things to boost the show's audience in the back half of the season. "I love Dana Delany," Lee said. "They're going to have more fun with her and really push more of the edgy elements that she brought in the early stages. It is a show that we would love to work long term. I'm hoping [those changes] work well and we can bring it back."
What went wrong with Charlie's Angels and Pan Am?
"We didn't breathe life into that franchise, but it was a really strong attempt," Lee said about Angels. However, Lee said he was pleased with Pan Am's progress. "There's such a feeling of goodwill toward that show. People really wanted to be in that place and time," Lee said. "We're working at the moment to make sure that the power of the emotional stories really drives through, and I think if we can do that, we can start bringing the audience back." Wait, it's still in consideration for next season? "We have new and original shows [through February], and it will be in contention as we go forward," Lee said.