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ABC’s Karey Burke Confident That Oscars Will See ‘Big Turnout’

New ABC Entertainment president Karey Burke expressed bullishness at the Television Critics Association winter press tour that this year’s Academy Awards telecast would be sure to draw in viewers, and downplayed the recent controversy surrounding Kevin Hart that led ABC to a host-less Oscars.

When asked if the issue was prompting worry, Burke responded: “I have to be honest – it did. It no longer does. I’ve ironically found that the lack of clarity around the Oscars has kept the Oscars really in the conversation and the mystery has been really compelling. People really care.”

And she believes that the popularity of the films up for awards will ensure that viewers across America tune in.

“At no time in history have there been three movies nominated for Best Picture each having grossed over $200 million (at the box office),” she said. “I think we’re going to see a big turnout for this, because these are big, popular movies that are being nominated.”

“A Star is Born” and “Bohemian Rhapsody” each racked up over $200 million in lifetime grosses at the domestic box office. “Black Panther” has grossed over $700 million domestically and over $1.3 billion worldwide.

Separately, Burke acknowledged ABC’s slide as the top network watched by women, and expressed determination to reclaim that title.

“I’m quite aware that we have our work cut out for us,” said Burke. “For starters, whether we’ve been up or down, ABC has a long history of being No. 1 with women. We lost that mantle this season and I am determined to get it back. Luckily, programming for women has long been a passion of mine, and I’ve always had a personal goal to create the best opportunities for women in front of and behind the camera.”

She attributed part of that dip to strong dramas from other networks, in particular NBC’s “This is Us,” but said that the upcoming crop of pilots she and her team have chosen are “much more female forward than in past years.”

Burke assured critics and reporters at TCA that the ABC slate would “have a lot of male appeal,” though they are choosing a few more shows that have strong female leads and points of view.

Commenting on individual ABC series and franchises, Burke also discussed:

  • “The Bachelor.” The reality show franchise has “done a remarkable job over its many seasons.” And in reflecting how, as a feminist, she could allow her kids to watch the show, she asserted, “If you don’t think those women have power, you aren’t watching the show correctly.
  • “Grey’s Anatomy.” She is “thrilled” with the long-running series’ performance, and is “in conversations about continuing the show.”
  • “Bewitched.” She and Kenya Barris decided that “the script wasn’t quite there.”
  • “Modern Family.” The show is returning for its 11th and final season.
  • “Designing Women.” When asked about the possible reboot, she said the show is “still in the mix” of pilot season.

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