ABC rolls out 10 new TV series, bets big on drama
NEW YORK (Reuters) - ABC introduced a prime-time TV schedule for next season that will feature 10 new shows, overhauling a lineup that has suffered ratings declines and will soon be without the hit supernatural thriller "Lost."
The majority of ABC's new programs are dramas, ranging from gritty police show "Detroit 1-8-7" to "My Generation," which centers on a group of fictitious high-school students from Austin, Texas, who reunite a decade after graduation.
In all, ABC, a division of Walt Disney Co will premiere six new dramas in 2010-11. ABC Entertainment President Stephen McPherson is formally presenting the schedule to advertisers and affiliates at a planned upfront event at Lincoln Center on Tuesday.
Meanwhile, ABC's sister network, ESPN, also owned by Disney, announced at its upfront presentation that it plans to roll out its 3D network on June 11. The launch will feature the first of 25 World Cup matches ESPN 3D aims to broadcast, including games involving favorites Brazil, Germany, Italy and Spain.
It is the second year in a row that ABC will make major changes to its schedule, after rolling out 11 new shows during last year's upfronts -- the period each May when U.S. broadcast networks introduce their lineups, then start negotiating with advertisers over billions of dollars in commercial time.
While last year's crop of programing resulted in some strong ABC comedies -- including the breakout hit "Modern Family" -- many of the dramas failed to find an audience and will not return, including "Flash Forward" and "Eastwick."
The result is that ABC, even with the success of "Modern Family" and "Dancing with the Stars," is battling with NBC for last place among the major networks in the ratings race. Adding to its headaches, "Lost" will soon run its final episode.
Hoping to retain some of the "Lost" audience, ABC will introduce a new supernatural show on Tuesdays this fall called "No Ordinary Family." It tells the story of a family that survives a plane crash, and, upon returning home, finds they possess special powers.
ABC will also roll out two more crime dramas. The first, "Detroit 1-8-7," the Detroit cop show starring Michael Imperioli of "The Sopranos," will appear on Tuesday nights. "Body of Proof" is planned for Fridays and features Dana Delany, previously of "Desperate Housewives," as a crime-solving medical examiner.
"The Whole Truth," a legal drama that examines cases from two angles -- the prosecution's side and the defense's side -- will also appear on ABC's autumn lineup. At midseason, "Off the Map," a medical drama set in an isolated rain forest, will debut.
ABC will try to bolster its Wednesday comedy schedule with "Better Together," a romantic comedy about three different couples sorting through relationships.
Two other comedies are due to arrive midseason. "Happy Endings" is about a group of friends, two of whom break up just as they are about to get married, while "Mr. Sunshine" stars Matthew Perry of "Friends" as the manager of a second-rate sports arena who is facing a mid-life crisis.
Fox, a division of News Corp, and NBC, in which Comcast Corp is about to buy a majority stake from General Electric Co, have already unveiled their 2010-11 schedules.
CBS Corp will announce its programing plans on Wednesday.
(Reporting by Paul Thomasch, editing by Maureen Bavdek and Gerald E. McCormick)