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May 19, 2009

ABC upfront presentation blog

ABC's upfront presentation is 90 minutes long. The network plans to screen the entire pilot of sitcom "Modern Family" and the first act of "Flash Forward." Presumably ad buyers in the audience will not be told this until after the doors are locked.

Still can't get "You can't portray us in a negative light..." from the "V" clip out of my head...

Random thoughts on ABC's schedule: Does any other network have a new reality show on their fall schedule? Not counting NBC's entire 10 p.m. hour? ABC's "Shark Tank" is, I think, the only one. Very curious about this show. "Dragon's Den" is fantastic, but will a bunch of people chatting alone in a room be enough to break out on broadcast? 

ABC chairman Anne Sweeney opens the show, touting that live ads during "Jimmy Kimmel Live" doubled audience recall according to studies. "You may not know it yet, but your intent to purchase ABC just went up 13%," she said of her pitch.

ABC's ad sales president Mike Shaw comes out with the sales pitch: ABC has the most ratings in upper income households, engagement scores highest in television, "ABC delivers consumers, not just viewers."

"The writers strike makes it more difficult to gauge our performance," Shaw says. "It essentially lasted until January 1."

Which is probably news to writers.

Since January 1, he continues, the network is up 8% in adults 18-49.

"It's been almost two years since we had a regular pilot season," adds entertainment president Steve McPherson.

Essentially, what ABC is asking for here is a bit of a do-over. The current broadcast season, the same one where CBS made "The Mentalist" and Fox made "Fringe," wasn't really fair and didn't count.  

Now ABC screens the first act of "Flash Forward" and some drama series clips.

And the overall impression is ... well, rather good actually.

As much as I'm tempted to call ABC on it's "last two years doesn't count" stuff, McPherson could be right when he says this is the best year of development he's had yet.

On balance, the clips are firmly better than ABC's presentations from the past two years.

"Flash" looks grown-up, solid.

Midseason legal dramedy "The Deep End" has an modern-day "Ally McBeal" vibe.

"Eastwick" is very-very ABC, but doesn't look half bad. Jerry Bruckheimer's "Forgotten" looks solid, better than Fox's similar feeling "Past Life." "Happy Town" looks pretty good.

And ABC ... every trailer they cut tries to make the audience laugh, then cry. Quit it. It's exhausting.

Among comedies, "Hank" looks very standard sitcom.

"Middle" a bit "Malcolm in the Middle" typical.

"Cougar Town" gets a big response; the full trailer is pretty good.

Then ABC offers the full pilot for Steve Levitan's "Modern Family" and that goes over very well. It's funny in a single-camera Christopher Guest-comedy way, though the risk, of course, is making a comedy that's smart and doomed.

Okay, then Jimmy Kimmel takes the stage, and that deserves its own post, which is coming shortly.


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