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Alphabet casts new leading lady

Lee lands ABC exec veep spot, replacing Blythe

ABC and Touchstone have found a new lead player for their casting division, tapping Keli Lee as exec VP of casting for the ABC Entertainment Television Group.

Gig gives Lee oversight of primetime casting for skeins set up at the Alphabet net and sister studio Touchstone Television. She’ll report to both ABC Entertainment prexy Steve McPherson and Touchstone topper Mark Pedowitz.

Lee, who has been at ABC/Touchstone since 1991, replaces longtime casting chief Gene Blythe, who retired from the post at the end of last season, having worked at Disney for 17 years.

McPherson and Pedowitz both cited Lee’s ability to find top thesps as a key reason for the promotion.

“She brings an incredible breadth of experience and … relationships to the job of casting our primetime series, and her eye for new talent is evident in her work on our showcases,” McPherson said.

Pedowitz noted Lee’s “talent for identifying actors who make a connection with the audience” as well as her “extensive knowledge of working actors.”

Lee, who had been senior VP of casting for the ABC Entertainment Television Group since 2003, joined ABC’s Gotham offices in 1991 and was upped to associate director of East Coast casting three years later. She moved to L.A. in 1995 to serve as director of casting for Touchstone/Walt Disney TV, working on skeins including “Home Improvement” and “Ellen.”

Blythe had been head of casting for ABC/Touchstone since 1999; before that, he headed casting for the studio side of Disney’s TV business, joining the company in 1988.

Thesps signed under Blythe include Tim Allen, Drew Carey, Salma Hayek and Dave Chappelle. Blythe will remain a casting consultant to the ABC Entertainment Television Group.

Before Disney, Blythe was director of casting at MTM Prods., working on skeins including “St. Elsewhere” and “Newhart.”

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