ABC’s Paul Lee Setting New Contract Amid Disney TV Shakeup

Paul Lee

The news of Anne Sweeney’s pending departure as Disney/ABC TV Group topper has stirred up a hornet’s nest of rumor and speculation about what happens next — and what it means for ABC.

ABC Entertainment Group chief Paul Lee has already been the subject of snarky gossip in TV circles about his being on thin ice because of the Alphabet’s struggles this season with new series. (Sunday’s solid opening for fantasy-drama “Resurrection” was a welcome respite after a string of misfires.)

But in fact, Lee is in the midst of setting a new long-term employment contract with the Mouse House, a process that was in the works even before Sweeney unleashed the surprising news that she would step down by January to pursue her goal of becoming a TV helmer. Sources say that news caught Lee and most of Sweeney’s direct reports by surprise when she disclosed it Tuesday morning at a hastily arranged staff meeting.

Lee is well regarded inside Disney, particularly by Sweeney and head honcho Bob Iger. He’s known for being analytical in his approach to programming and business decisions, and thus may be seen as a good fit in the higher-level managerial role that Sweeney is about to vacate.

Iger has made it clear he intends to move quickly to name a successor for Sweeney but sources cautioned that there is no slam-dunk choice for the job yet and that Iger is evaluating his options among several internal candidates. Despite instant speculation about external possibilities ranging from Gail Berman to Bruce Rosenblum, sources close to the situation assure that the new TV group boss will come from within Disney’s walls.

ABC News president Ben Sherwood is surely on the short list along with Lee, given the success that Sherwood has had in steering the news division and “Good Morning America’s” rise to No. 1 in the morning show wars.

Beyond that, the only certainty at ABC is that the palace intrigue surrounding the Sweeney successor selection will be as compelling to Alphabet insiders as any plot twists on “Scandal” or “Revenge” in the coming weeks.


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  1. Elizabeth says:

    All I can say is that whoever is named, PLEASE fire Ron Carlivati – he has turned GH into a stupid and campy cartoon full of mindless characters who are parodies of the long loved legacies that made the show iconic over the decades. He tweets pretty much every day to fill in the holes from the choppy writing and superficial plot points and people are sick to death of seeing the One Life to Live leftovers dominating their show day in and day out. There is a reason the ratings are languishing…. please…. get a clue!

  2. Xanna Don't says:

    “Shakeup?” You bet. Between 3 to 5 million loyal “All My Children” and “One Life To Live” fans have been boycotting all ABC programming since those iconic shows’ cancellations. If Paul Lee is truly analytical in his approach, he’ll find a way to settle with Prospect Park (pay the fine already; ABC behaved badly), regain the rights, and get AMC & OLTL back into production and on their airwaves where they began and thrived for decades. The fans are still here. It’s time to win us back.

  3. Jane says:

    Seriously, besides perhaps one person, who holds Lee in high regard at ABC? At least Ben knows the names of the people near his office, and watches his division’s shows.

  4. Vernette Griffee says:

    Well, it really doesn’t matter much to me that much anymore because there’s only a few of ABC shows I actually take the time to watch, “Castle”, “Modern Family” and “DWS”, but that might change if “IT” doesn’t get any better. I WAS an ABC NEWS regular until they started to become FAUX NEWS like, ABC spends more time “FACT CHECKING” the President and Democrats but does NOTHING to check the FACTS on all of the crap-lies the GOP spews on a regular basis. I do watch the “ABC LA NEWS and WEATHER” but switch right away when the “World News” comes on and move to “Al Jazeera” for the REAL WORLD-VIEW NEWS that REALLY IS “Fair and Balanced World News”! It’s become pretty obvious to most of us that are “New-zees” that just about all of the major networks are owned by Conservatives and the majority of their “News Coverage” is completely “UN-Balanced” toward the Conservative way of thinking! I enjoy the LA NEWS Team and appreciate the NEWS, WEATHER and TRAFFIC that are things that REALLY matter to me on a daily basis! So when ABC comes back to the REAL NEWS and quality programming “I’ll Be Back”!

  5. Sam says:

    Paul lee should be fired. He refuses to move dancing with the stars to Tuesdays to avoid facing the voice and continues to do everything to torpedo this show which still ranks number one in viewers. He keeps low rated shows like trophy wife and has a string of flops.

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