BBC courts, but Paul Lee sticks with ABC

Alphabet exec was approached for director general post

LONDON — ABC Entertainment Group prexy Paul Lee is being courted for the top job at the BBC.

It’s understood that Beeb-affiliated execs have reached out to the Alphabet topper in recent weeks, though sources say that Lee has no intent of taking the post.

Lee is coming off a strong season at ABC in which the network fielded successful new series in “Once Upon a Time,” “Revenge” and “Suburgatory,” plus other promising newcomers.

The Beeb’s search for a new topper is heating up as current director general Mark Thompson prepares to step down later this year following the broadcaster’s coverage of the summer Olympics and the Queen’s Jubilee celebration. Thompson, who announced his plan to exit in March, has led the Beeb since 2004, making him one of the longest-serving director generals since the 1970s.

Lee first joined the BBC in 1984 as a general trainee and in 1990 moved to drama, where he produced, directed and wrote TV movies. He ultimately served as channel editor for BBC Prime, the company’s 24-hour entertainment channel.

He moved Stateside in 1998 to develop and launch the BBC America cabler. In 2004, Lee was recruited by Disney-ABC TV Group topper Anne Sweeney to run cabler ABC Family cabler. Under his purview, the teen-centric cabler turned around its ratings performance with a series of young adult hits including “Kyle XY,” “The Secret Life of the American Teenager” and “Pretty Little Liars.”

In July 2010, Sweeney tapped Lee to head ABC Entertainment following the departure of Stephen McPherson.

Stuart Levine contributed to this report.

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