Now that the dust has settled on the ABC Entertainment-Disney TV consolidation, Steve McPherson has been tapped to run the Touchstone Television studio arm housed within the newly minted ABC Entertainment TV Group.
McPherson, who joined Touchstone last year as exec VP of creative affairs, will oversee the day-to-day development and production of shows for both ABC and outside webs. He reports to ABC Entertainment co-chairmen Lloyd Braun and Stu Bloomberg.
Reps for Disney and ABC declined to comment Thursday, but ABC brass have recently been meeting with talent reps and producers to outline the new structure of the studio wing.
McPherson will head a two-pronged operation in which he’ll work with the Alphabet’s comedy and drama programming execs on projects for ABC, while a separate staff is being assembled to develop and oversee non-ABC projects. The assignments of a handful of Touchstone execs slated to work under McPherson are still being finalized.
The new division of labor at Touchstone is designed to alleviate concerns around town that ABC brass would have direct oversight of the production of series for outside webs. Touchstone currently has two new series bound for the WB: the high- school drama “Popular” and the midseason drama “Brutally Normal.”
Touchstone, through its association with Imagine TV, also is home to Fox’s “The Pjs” and WB’s “Felicity.”
The Mouse is anxious to get the official word out about the new studio structure because there has been much debate about Disney’s viability as a program supplier to non-ABC outlets following the decision to merge the production arm with ABC’s primetime entertainment wing.
Layoffs spurred by the merger — coupled with last month’s hasty resignation of ABC entertainment prexy Jamie Tarses — added to the confusion.
When the studio-network streamlining plan was first confirmed in July, it was uncertain whether the Touchstone TV banner would be kept alive after the consolidation.
But Mouse House brass quickly decided that Touchstone would be the best vehicle for housing the studio’s talent deals and for keeping a healthy distance between ABC execs and projects for outside shops. Still, the Touchstone operation faces considerable skepticism among showbizzers as to whether it will actively court talent and develop promising properties for non-ABC outlets.