Mcpherson speaks about network's internal issues

ABC has “reached out” to Paula Abdul about joining “Dancing With the Stars” in some capacity.

ABC Entertainment Group topper Steve McPherson told reporters Saturday that he’s interested in bringing the former “American Idol” judge to “Dancing” as either a judge or a contestant.

“I was a little stunned,” McPherson said of the split between Abdul and Fox, FremantleMedia North America and 19 Entertainment. “There’s a sensitivity and emotion to her that balances out ‘Idol.’ I’d love to get a piece of that.”

It’s not the first time the Alphabet has pursued Abdul; net has sent feelers her way for several years about crossing the hall (quite literally — “Idol” and “Dancing” are shot on adjacent soundstages at CBS Television City).

McPherson, a longtime personal friend of Abdul’s, said he placed a call to the “Idol” judge after she parted ways with the show. No formal deal has been presented to her yet, however.

“All possibilities are open,” McPherson said, noting that Abdul could help lighten the workload of “Dancing” judge Len Goodman, who travels back and forth between the U.S. and the U.K. and is recovering from prostate cancer.

Abdul wasn’t the only hot-button TV star addressed by McPherson. “Grey’s Anatomy” thesp Katherine Heigl has stuck her foot in her mouth several times, frequently at the expense of the show.

“People will behave in the way they choose to behave,” McPherson said. “People are busting their tail everyday (on ‘Grey’s Anatomy’) and feeling they’re either being looked down upon or criticized. I’m not going to begin to try and explain someone else’s behavior.”

Meanwhile, speaking on the final day of this summer’s TV Critics Assn. press tour, McPherson said the recent move to consolidate both the network and studio under his watch has allowed him “more flexibility” to control costs.

“We want to preserve as much of the core business as we can,” McPherson said. “The fact is, every show was starting to inch up. Shows were $3.5 million straight out of the box — you can’t have that.”

McPherson said belt-tightening was continuing on a show-by-show basis. The network/studio combo, he added, is constantly asking itself, “What does each show demand, and is it worth the risk/reward?”

Certain shows, like the frosh entry “Flash Forward,” “demand a cinematic feel,” he said.

Asked about NBC’s decision to air “The Jay Leno Show” five nights a week at 10 p.m., McPherson said he was “anxious” to see how it performs.

“I think a lot of viewers will be thrown up no matter what Leno does,” he said. “And a lot of those viewers will be compatible with our dramas.”

McPherson said he didn’t wish ill on NBC and he wants the broadcast system to remain “very vibrant” — but he nonetheless did get one dig in at the Peacock.

“NBC is doing their own thing (at 10 p.m.), and the other networks are trying to follow the tradition of putting on great material,” he said.

In other news, McPherson confirmed that half-hours “The Goode Family” and “Surviving Suburbia” are officially over.

Also, new laffer “Cougartown” is undergoing some reshoots, and some edgy scenes in the pilot will be toned down. “Hank” is being reshot as well, with new actors playing Kelsey Grammer’s kids. And in one scheduling tidbit, ABC announced that its reworking of “V” will air Tuesdays at 8 p.m. starting Nov. 3.

But McPherson wouldn’t take the bait when asked about the exit of NBC’s Ben Silverman. The two have exchanged harsh words in the past (via the press), but on Saturday McPherson said he didn’t “have a big reaction” to the news.

Earlier in the day, “Hank” star Grammer felt a little more free to speak his mind about rival network toppers — including Fox’s Kevin Reilly and CBS’ Leslie Moonves.

Grammer went as far as to intimate that his recent heart attack was the direct result of Reilly’s decision to cancel “Back to You.”

“I had an event that they think was stress-related. And you can make of that what you will,” he said.

“Back to You” was doomed in part because Reilly had passed on the show when he was at NBC, Grammer said.

“We actually were onto something pretty good,” he said. “Then Fox hired — what’s his name? Reilly? We had pitched it to him at NBC. So I had bad feelings about that.”

In the case of Moonves, Grammer said the exec originally wasn’t interested in “Medium” (which Grammer produces), “and then he spent the next four years trying to make the same show.”

Grammer, who sarcastically called Moonves a “selfless, egoless man,” was also taken aback by how the Eye spun its decision to steal away “Medium” from NBC.

“When they said in their press release that ‘Medium’ could be a nice offspring of ‘Ghost Whisperer,’ I thought that was sort of disingenuous and misrepresentative,” he said.

Others, however, called Grammer’s comments disingenuous. One insider pointed out that it was Reilly who ordered “Medium” at NBC in the first place, while CBS has been aggressive in working to keep “Medium” alive.

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