×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

ABC Chief Channing Dungey Talks ‘Scandal’ End Plan, TGIT’s Future

Through five seasons, “Scandal” has consistently been among broadcast’s highest rated dramas. With the sixth season of the Shonda Rhimes-produced series set to debut Jan. 26, ABC entertainment president Channing Dungey discussed with Variety whether a plan for when and how to end the show is yet in place.

“I would say yes, in Shonda’s head,” Dungey said in an interview Tuesday at the Television Critics Association winter press tour in Pasadena, Calif. “I know already that she has some great ideas for next season, which will be season seven. We have not really talked about what happens after that. But I love the show and I would happily keep the show on as long as she feels that she has creative runway to write the show.”

Dungey was promoted to programming head of ABC last year after six years of leading drama development for the network. In that role and in her new position, she developed four of the five Rhimes-produced dramas set to air on ABC this season: “Scandal,” “How to Get Away With Murder,” “The Catch,” and a still-untitled forthcoming drama based on “Romeo and Juliet.”

In addition to those series, ABC also has Rhimes’ “Grey’s Anatomy,” currently in its 13th season and the network’s highest rated drama. According to Dungey, there is no cap on how many shows Rhimes could potentially have on the network.

“I will take as many things as Shonda will give me,” Dungey said. But the network may in the future place less emphasis on the Thursday-night “TGIT” programming block that has clustered “Grey’s,” “Scandal,” and “Murder” on one evening. That strategy originated two seasons ago under Dungey’s predecessor Paul Lee as a way to counterprogram against “Thursday Night Football” with female-friendly dramas. But it was less successful last season, as “Scandal” ratings began to lag and critics raised concerns about the creative quality of the show.

“The truth of the matter is we’ve kind of been spinning things mostly around Thursday,” Dungey said. “There certainly is an opportunity for us to pepper them throughout the schedule.”

Rhimes also has two more projects in development at ABC: a legal drama and a comedy from writer Liz Tuccillo.

Dungey has sought to broaden the creative scope of the network’s drama offerings, which under Lee tended to skew heavily female. Among ABC’s fall freshman dramas this season, female-leaning “Notorious” and “Conviction” floundered in the ratings, while the more balanced “Designated Survivor” has been a solid performer, particularly in delayed viewing.

“When I first stepped into this role and did my first upfront, one of the goals that I set out was to bring more men into the tent,” Dungey said. “I felt as through we had gotten to a place where we were very heavily skewing [female] not so much in terms of the audience per se, but in terms of some of the content.” The appeal that “Designated Survivor” has shown among male and female audiences, she added, has been a positive for the network. “So I think we’re going to continue to look for shows in that vein.” In November, ABC announced that it had ordered a new superhero series, “Inhumans,” from Disney sibling Marvel Entertainment.

Dungey also points to the network’s past as an indicator of what it might look like in the future. She has emphasized to her drama development team her desire to seek out shows that are “a little lighter, brighter, more hopeful,” she said.

“I think that that’s again a space that broadcast can occupy differently than cable or streamers,” she said. “There was a point I felt like everyone was heading in that direction of ‘How can we be darker than ‘Breaking Bad’?’ While I think certainly there is a place for darker shows on our air, I look at things like ‘Desperate Housewives’ and ‘Ugly Betty’ and ‘Brothers and Sisters,’ and would love to bring a little bit more of that tone back to our air as well.”

More TV

  • Inside Taronga Zoo

    Nat Geo Wild and More 4 Snap Up Australian Doc Series 'Inside Taronga Zoo'

    Cineflix Rights has pre-sold Australian wildlife documentary series “Inside Taronga Zoo” to Nat Geo Wild for the U.S. and More 4 for the U.K. The 10 part series is produced by McAvoy Media for Nine Network Australia, where it will air as “Taronga: Who’s Who In The Zoo.” “Inside Taronga Zoo” follows the 240 keepers and vets caring for [...]

  • Watchmen HBO

    TV Review: 'Watchmen'

    “Watchmen,” the 1980s DC Comics series whose popularity demands adaptation and whose singular vision makes that near-impossible, might be too much itself to bring out the best in any artist. But it has brought out the most in Damon Lindelof. As a follow-up to HBO’s “The Leftovers,” Lindelof returns to the cabler to remix and [...]

  • Mary Higgins Clark

    Reel One, Element 8 and La Sabotière to Develop Mary Higgins Clark's Crime Novels

    Montreal-based producer and distributor Reel One Entertainment has partnered with U.S. producer Element 8 Entertainment and Paris-based La Sabotière to develop an anthology series based on the novels of American crime writer Mary Higgins Clark. U.S. screenwriter and author Ilene Rosenzweig, whose credits include “Station 19” and “Girlfriend’s Guide to Divorce,” is attached as writer [...]

  • Informer

    Mipcom Roundup: All3Media and Blue Ant Sell in Asia, Lagardère Buys in Spain

    In Variety’s third Mipcom Roundup Alibaba’s streaming platform Youku gets BBC programs, Lagardère buys full ownership of Barcelona’s Veranda, Banijay rolls out Guinness World Records series, Blue Ant International sells and renews and All3Media Intl. extends into Japan and Taiwan. All3Media Strikes Deals in Japan, Taiwan All3Media has grown its footprint in Asia thanks to newly announced [...]

  • Help Wanted: Amazon Studios International Execs

    Help Wanted: Amazon Studios International Execs Talk European Expansion

    If there’s a perfect example of Amazon Studios’ strategy with its local-language international TV content, Japan’s “Documental” would be it. The series revolves around 10 comedians who battle to make one another laugh in an elimination-style competition. James Farrell, Amazon Studios’ head of international originals, said it was a good example of an unconventional idea [...]

  • vernon-subutex

    Studiocanal Closes North America SVOD on ‘Vernon Subutex’ with Topic (EXCLUSIVE)

    CANNES —  Forging what could well be a fertile relationship, Studiocanal has sold North American SVOD rights on Canal Plus Creation Original “Vernon Subutex,” and “Pros and Cons,” from Denmark’s SAM Productions, to First Look Media’s Topic. Targeting “culture cravers,” “an audience deeply involved in social, political and cultural issues of today,” general manger Ryan [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content