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 official announcement of the Dancing with the Stars cast is just hours away—tomorrow morning on Good Morning America—but we have some casting scoop you need to hear right now. You will not believe who is coming to Dancing with the Stars, but you’ll be even more surprised by who is not going to be there. Trust me. Spoilers ahead:
Two Pros Out
Chelsie Hightower cryptically informed TMZ in a street interview that she is out of Dancing With the Stars for the foreseeable future. From the way everybody makes it sound it wasn’t exactly an amicable departure for the leggy blonde dance pro. The only thing Chelsie revealed for the cameras is that leaving was “not by choice.” She was, let’s say, diplomatic through most of the video so she is obviously not wanting to burn the bridge.
Maksim Chmerkovskiy, one of Dancing with the Star’s most popular, if not the most popular, dance pro has left the series to pursue acting opportunities in film and television. Have we ever actually seen Maks act before? I’m not recalling that. His loss will have a huge impact on the show since he was so popular on his own that anyone he partnered up with got an automatic boost.
So you can’t wait for the official cast list tomorrow? We have a treat for you then. Some of the new season cast has been leaked and we have the list right here:
Superbowl Hero and Baltimore Ravens wide receiver Jacoby Jones will be looking for some of that heat to prop him up on Dancing with the Stars as he trades the Grid Iron for the Ball Room. NFL stars typically do well with the audience so he is definitely someone to watch.
American Idol runner up Kellie Pickler puts down the microphone and laces up her dancing shoes. Surprisingly, Pickler is the first American Idon contestant to appear on Dancing with the Stars. Kind of surprising when you think about it. A polished performer, Pickler definitely has a shot at the Mirror Ball.
Country and western star Wynonna Judd is a bit of a surprise for me. Dancing With the Stars doesn’t seem like something she would have even remotely considered in her heyday. Is she possibly looking to revive her career with a little dancing action now? Regardless of her intentions, Wynonna has legendary stage presence, if her dancing skills are to match she’ll be a force to reckon with.
Captain of the Gold Medal-winning US Women’s Gymnastics team, you could think of Aly Raisman as Shawn Johnson 2.0. With her athletic background, there is no doubt she’ll be able to master complex dance moves quickly and might even prove a challenge for her partner. Speaking of partners, may I suggest Derek Hough?
How well received this year’s Bachelor is on Dancing With the Stars may have a lot to do with how his own show wraps up. All-Stars winner Melissa Rycroft migrated from The Bachelorette with great success, and Sean is certainly likeable enough to skate through on earnest effort and ample charisma, but break the wrong heart and look out.
The latest ‘rumored’, and therefore ‘unconfirmed’, cast member is boxer Victor Ortiz who recently suffered a career stalling broken jaw. Can he achieve the Mirror Ball while waiting for his glass jaw to mend? We’ll find out.
Kelly Monaco and Valentin Chmerkovskiy
Emmitt Smith and Cheryl Burke
Joey Fatone and Kym Johnson
Kirstie Alley and Maksim Chmerkovskiy
Bristol Palin and Mark Ballas
Pamela Anderson and Tristan McManus
Apolo Anton Ohno and Karina Smirnoff
Gilles Marini and Peta Murgatroyd
Drew Lachey and Anna Trebunskaya
Helio Castroneves and Chelsie Hightower
Melissa Rycroft and Tony Dovolani
Shawn Johnson and Derek Hough
ABC announced today at the Television Critics Association’s summer press tour in Beverly Hills the celebrities who’ll be participating in Dancing With the Stars‘ upcoming all-star edition. They include: Pamela Anderson, Kelly Monaco, Melissa Rycroft, Helio Castroneves, Drew Lachey, Joey Fatone, Shawn Johnson, Gilles Marini, Bristol Palin, Apolo Anton-Ohno, Emmitt Smith, and Kirstie Alley.
ABC will also allow the public to choose a “Viewer’s Choice All-Star” from the following three dancers: Carson Kressley, Kyle Massey, or Sabrina Bryan. Voting will take place at ABC.com/DancingwiththeStars, from today through Friday, Aug. 24 at noon PT. The thriteenth and final cast member will be announced live on Good Morning America, on Aug. 27.
DWTS pro partners will be announced on Aug. 13. “It’s impossible for [all of the celebs] to have the same partners. It’ll make a very intriguing mix once we announce the partners,” said executive producer Conrad Green.
“We’ve talked about doing an all-stars [edition] and thought about it a long time, [but] we felt we needed enough time to build up the stock,” Green continued. “I’m astonished at the people who said yes. We’ve got the crème de la crème. It’s almost our versions of The Avengers. These are the superheroes of their particular seasons.”
ABC president Paul Lee told reporters that DWTS producers got everyone on their wish list — with the exception of maybe two celebrities who were too busy with prior commitments.
Green went on to say that “there will probably be a few tweaks” for All-Stars judging, considering the competitors will all have ballroom experience going in. “We’re probably going to have to recalibrate the judges slightly” so everyone doesn’t get 9s and 10s right off the bat, says the EP. “But essentially, it will be the same show.”
Polarizing Season 11 finalist Bristol Palin was on hand to explain her reasons for taking another shot at mirrorbally glory. “God provides opportunities like this. I think the press is going to be talking about me no matter what, so I might as well be having fun,” she said.
Dancing With the Stars returns Sept. 24, 8/7c on ABC. Watch the promo video below, then sound off about which all-stars have you psyched, which ones you wish had stayed on the bench, and who you think was too busy for a second spin on the dancefloor.–Reporting by Vlada Gelman