ABC entertainment president Paul Lee conceded to reporters Sunday at the Television Critics Assoc. press tour in Beverly Hills that Revenge “stumbled a bit” in its mythology-heavy second season, adding that new showrunner Sunil Nayar (who replaced series creator Mike Kelley) will “bring to us a slightly less complicated” storyline in Season 3. “The first episode back is a fantastic episode starting with a magnificent hook.”
Other highlights from Lee’s exec session:
NASHVILLE | Lee defended Nashville‘s super-soapy Season 1 car crash climax, calling the twist a “sweet cliffhanger… There’s an impending doom that leads you toward the car crash that is very Nashville.” In Season 2, Connie Britton’s Rayna will “really drive plot,” Lee added. “That particular rivalry with Connie and Hayden['s characters] is coming to a head. We’ve only seen a couple of outlines and a script, but we’re really happy with it.”
ONCE UPON A TIME IN WONDERLAND | On the decision to launch the Once spin-off in the fall as opposed to at midseason as a bridge between the first and second half of Once Season 3, “We just fell in love with it. We were looking to build a real block on Thursday of empowered women… This is Alice like you’ve never seen Alice before. She’s a truly kickass Alice.”
DANCING WITH THE STARS | On Maksim Chmerkovskiy returning for the next cycle, “Maks is part of the family; he may well be back [next season].” As for how the competition series will manage with no more results show, Lee would only say that Monday’s two-hour telecasts would “build to a climax at the end” and still involve some combo of judge and viewer votes.
HAPPY ENDINGS | Lee called the beloved comedy’s untimely cancellation “very upsetting,” but noted that the show failed to “attract an audience on its own” after it moved out of the post-Modern Family slot. “We never found in the places that we put it [that] we could [bring] an audience to it. We couldn’t find its sea legs away from a strong lead-in, so that’s how we ended up on that decision.”
GREY’S ANATOMY | The long-running medical soap is not heading into its final season, Lee maintained. “[Shonda Rhimes] is planning a number of [season's] out… We would like to see it on the network for many years to come.” Lee declined to comment on the future of original castmembers like Ellen Pompeo and Patrick Dempsey (whose contract expire in May), saying, “If I commented on who is coming in and out, I think Shonda would yell at me.”
CASTLE | When asked about Nathan Fillion’s recent unauthorized “day off” from Castle in the midst of a contract squabble with ABC, Lee deflected, “Nathan and Stana [Katic] are fantastic actors. We feel super-optimistic” about Castle‘s future.
SCHEDULING | ABC detailed its split-season schedule for its heavy hitter dramas, revealing that Nashville will return from its winter break on Feb. 26, Grey’s Anatomy and Scandal will resume their runs Feb. 27, and Once Upon a Time and Revenge will come back March 9 — with all of the above finishing their seasons with few or no repeats. (Lee told TVLine that midseason programs such as Tricia Helfer’s Killer Women will fill those midseason gaps.) The new reality series The Quest, meanwhile, will at least temporarily replace Once Upon a Time in Wonderland (Thursdays at 8) starting Jan. 2, while Resurrection will take over for Betrayal (Sundays at 10) on March 9.
The future is not looking good for Happy Endings.
Though initial reports indicated the comedy may move to a new home at USA after it was canceled by ABC last month, talks have ended and USA will not be picking up the show, Deadline reports.
Happy Endings‘ low ratings on ABC played a role in the decision, according to Deadline, and USA is instead opting to focus on its upcoming original half-hour series, Sirens and Playing House. Last week, it was announced that USA was also passing on another recently-canceled ABC series, Body of Proof.
Sony TV, which produces Happy Endings, is continuing to pursue conversations with other possible distributors, according to Deadline.
Will you miss Happy Endings? Which company do you think should pick up the cult comedy?
Happy Endings may get a happy ending, after all.
The cult-hit comedy, currently in its third season at ABC, might wind up at USA Network if the Alphabet Net chooses not to pick it up for Season 4.
Sony TV, which produces Endings, has approached a few networks about continuing the crew’s shenanigans; Deadline reports that USA Network has expressed interest.
The news is a welcome surprise for fans of the quirky ensemble series, which was exiled to Fridays — often a harbinger of cancellation — last month. Its first Friday broadcast drew 3 million total viewers and a 0.9 rating with the 18-49 demo (and its second that evening fared worse), falling below its average Tuesday-night numbers.
Happy news it’s not: ABC is exiling Happy Endings from Tuesdays to Fridays beginning in March, the network announced very late Wednesday.
ABC’s revised Tuesday schedule (which bows on Feb. 26) will consist of Celebrity Wife Swap at 8/7c leading into The Taste at 9/8c.
Happy Endings, which aired its final Tuesday episode last week, makes its Friday debut on March 29, airing back-to-back original episodes from 8-9 pm. (The current Friday-night comedy block of Last Man Standing and Malibu County will have finished their seasons prior to the Happy takeover.)
On the bright side for Happy Endings fans, at least ABC is allowing the ratings-challenged comedy to finish out its season. The same can’t be said for the show’s former Tuesday companion, Don’t Trust the B—- in Apt. 23.
ABC has cut short its attempt to double up on originals of Happy Endings and Don’t Trust the B—- in Apt. 23 before the Tuesday sitcoms make an early exit from the schedule in March.
The network said Tuesday that Sunday’s planned episodes of Happy Endings and Apt. 23, intended to air at 10 and 10:30 p.m., respectively, will be replaced by an encore of Shark Tank.
Both shows have had modest showings in their regular Tuesday time slots. On Sundays, both slipped to series low and this past week didn’t even reach a 1.0 rating among adults 18-to-49. Both will continue to air on Tuesdays at 9 and 9:30 p.m. until the Dancing With the Stars results show moves into the hour later this season.
“We love those two shows,” ABC Network Groups president Paul Lee told reporters at the Television Critics Association winter press tour just last week. “They’re incredibly distinctive, and they’re water-cooler shows.”
Although Lee would not comment on the future prospects of either series, he did note that the Sunday specials were intended to give audiences more of a chance to see the series.