For far too long, broadcast networks have programmed shows that don’t accurately reflect the cultural backgrounds of the audiences watching them. ABC has been changing that with a far more diverse slate than its broadcast counterparts. As I wrote at Adweek, the network’s entertainment president Paul Lee talked about the strides ABC has made as he met with reporters at winter press tour.
“I think it’s our job to reflect America,” said ABC entertainment president Paul Lee at the Television Critics Association’s winter press tour this week. “I really believed from the beginning that the demographic changes in America were just as important to our revolution as the technological changes.”
At the same time, Lee noted, “We didn’t pick up these shows because they were diverse, we picked them up because they were great.”
Lee addressed a variety of other topics, including anthology-style series, the death of “least objectionable television,” and why binge-watching isn’t a bad thing. He also said that he has finally gotten the message about launching music competitions after last summer’s Rising Star fared even worse than Duets two years earlier. “I don’t think we’ll try that for a little bit,” he said. “I’m sure we’ll come back to that in the future.”
The network presidents spent much of 2014 bragging about, and defending, their various programming and scheduling decisions, no matter how foolish some of them turned out.
But some of those proclamations were so outrageous that they earned a well-deserved spot on this list of the 10 most ridiculous statements network presidents made this year. (I wanted to call this their “10 Biggest Lies of 2014,” but they actually believed at least some of these things to be true at the time they said them.)
From “Mulaney is the next Seinfeld!” to “We love Bill Cosby, and his troubles will sort themselves out,” see how many of your favorites made the list. And if you think Kevin Reilly, who stepped down as Fox entertainment chairman in May, is going to figure prominently … you would be correct.
The singing competition genre has gone off-key in the U.S., but ABC is hoping that a hit series from Israel — Rising Star, in which audiences vote in real-time, via the show’s app —will get it back on track. As I wrote at Quartz,
Speaking to reporters at the Television Critics Association’s winter press tour in January, ABC Entertainment Group President Paul Lee called Rising Star “the next generation of reality shows,” adding, “It’s almost like a modern Colosseum. I mean, people are literally voting up or down. … And it really has been a big hit over there. We think it will be a star maker over here.”
Easier said than done. After all, TV success in one country does not always translate to another. For every American Idol—based on the British series Pop Idol—there is an X Factor, which couldn’t replicate the UK original’s success here. (Rising Star has also been sold to France, Germany, Italy and Russia.)
I have my doubts for several reasons, most notably the fact that the show will air in four different time zones, meaning that not everyone will be able to vote “live.” And it was just two summers ago that ABC announced another heavily-hyped singing competition, Duets, which faded quickly. It seems unlikely that Rising Star will fare any better.