Exec optimistic about future, sees 'no margin for mediocrity'

ABC execs believe the worst is behind them — and are now hoping to show signs of ratings recovery this fall.

Speaking at the Alphabet web’s portion of the Television Critics Assn. press tour Wednesday, ABC Entertainment Television Group chairman Lloyd Braun and entertainment prexy Susan Lyne laid out their primary goal this fall: exhibiting tangible proof of turnaround.

“We’re confident we’ve laid the groundwork for you to see a palpable shift in momentum for ABC this year,” Braun said. “We are fully aware that given our current position we have absolutely no margin for mediocrity.”

Braun also reiterated the network’s promise to practice more patience with its fall series.

Stressing patience

“The key of course is that we feel that the shows maintain, if not grow, in terms of quality from where we start off today,” he said. “It may take a little longer for us to grow these shows into hits. But if the shows have the goods, we’re really confident that they’ll find an audience.”

Lyne, meanwhile, said she was still enthusiastic with the job, calling it “more fun than anything I’ve done in my life.”

“This is a great network to be at right now,” she said. “We have a chance to rebuild and to create the shows that a whole new generation hopefully will be talking about 10, 20 years from now.”

Revamp may be imminent

The execs also hinted that the network is looking to reorganize some of its departments in a bid for greater efficiency.

As for the faceoff between primetime’s two major-network African-American family laffers, Braun pointed out that “My Wife and Kids” occupied the Wednesday 8 p.m. timeslot before Fox skedded “Bernie Mac” there next season.

“We found absolutely no reason to adjust the schedule and move away when, quite honestly, Wednesday at 8 is really one of the few successes we’ve had in the last year or two,” Braun said.

On other matters:

  • Touchstone laffer “Regular Joe” has been added to ABC’s roster of midseason skeins.

    The series, from exec producers Nina Wass, Gene Stein and David Litt (who created the laffer), stars Daniel Stern as a family man who helps raise his teenage daughter’s kid. Thesp Lisa Ann Walter, who had been cast as Stern’s husband, has departed the show.

  • Jimmy Kimmel’s untitled latenight skein will premiere after the Super Bowl on Jan. 26.?

  • Net has ordered a female version of its hit reality skein “The Bachelor” for midseason.

    “The Bachelorette” will follow the exploits of Trista Rehn, the runnerup contestant on last spring’s original “Bachelor.” Rehn will date 25 men onscreen and eventually pick a mate.

    “Bachelorette,” which comes from “Bachelor” exec producers Next Entertainment and Telepictures Prods., is slated to bow in January. Chris Harrison will host, while Mike Fleiss will exec produce. The next edition of the mother “Bachelor” ship airs Wednesdays at 9 p.m. this fall.

  • ABC will launch most of its fall series during premiere week, which kicks of Sept. 23, with a few exceptions, including Monday nights.

“Monday Night Football” returns Sept. 9, with a matchup between Pittsburgh and New England. Returning skeins “Drew Carey Show” and “Whose Line Is It Anyway?” also bow that night with their eighth and fifth season premieres respectively.

Web also announced plans to celebrate the 200th episode of “NYPD Blue” on Tuesday, Sept. 24, with a one-hour clip show at 9 p.m. followed by the new seg at 10.

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