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ABC unveils 2014-15 slate

MUMBAI: While it is struggling in fourth place, US broadcaster ABC has said that it continues its commitment to world-class storytelling and new creative voices with the announcement of its 2014-15 slate of programming.

Twelve new series were introduced by ABC Entertainment Group president Paul Lee to the advertising and media communities at Lincoln Center’s Avery Fisher Hall.

He said, “Our schedule reflects a judicious mix of boldness and stability. ABC is finishing the season with momentum — we now have building blocks on every night of the week, and we’re using them to launch our new series. This season we set out to develop passion projects from world-class storytellers and showcase the faces and voices of America. Both plans unleashed a wave of creativity and we’re extremely excited about the new slate.”

In a nutshell the new series for the 2014-15 season are ‘American Crime’, ‘Black-ish’, ‘Cristela’, ‘Forever’, ‘Fresh Off the Boat’, ‘Galavant’, ‘How to Get Away with Murder’, ‘Manhattan Love Story’, ‘Marvel’s Agent Carter’, ‘Secrets and Lies’, ‘Selfie’ and ‘The Whispers’.

Returning this season are ‘America’s Funniest Home Videos’, ‘The Bachelor’, ‘Castle’, ‘Dancing with the Stars’, ‘The Goldbergs’, ‘The Great Christmas Light Fight’, ‘Grey’s Anatomy’, ‘Last Man Standing’, ‘Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.’, ‘The Middle’, ‘Modern Family’, ‘Nashville’, ‘Once Upon a Time’, ‘Resurrection’ ‘Revenge’, ‘Scandal’, ‘Shark Tank’, ‘The Taste’ and ‘20/20’.

One big piece of news is that three new shows will air on Tuesdays. One is the comedy ‘Selfie’. It is about a socialite Eliza Dooley (Karen Gillan) who has 263,000 online followers but realises that being friended is not the same as having actual friends. She asks marketing guru Henry (John Cho) to ‘rebrand’ her self-obsessed reputation and teach her how to connect with people in the real world.

Up next is ‘Manhattan Love Story’, a romantic comedy that exposes the differences between men and women through the unfiltered thoughts of a new couple who just started dating. Lee called it a classic romantic comedy about why men and women have such a hard time getting along.

‘Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.EL.D’ returns and airs at 9 pm slot. This serves as the lead in for the new drama ‘Forever’; it is about a medical examiner who is looking for answers about his own inexplicable immortality.

Another big piece of news is the plan for Thursdays. The returning shows ‘Grey’s Anatomy’ and ‘Scandal’ will each air an hour earlier, a move that has been questioned by some. All the shows that air on primetime on that day have been produced by Shonda Rhimes. These two shows serve as a lead in for a new show ‘How to Get Away with Murder’ in which Viola Davis plays a law professor turned sleuth.

One show that Lee is excited about is ‘American Crime’ that kicks off during mid-season. The creator of the show is John Ridley who earlier this year won an Oscar for writing ‘12 Years A Slave’. He said that he came to ABC “to write and direct a television pilot, and the only mandate I was given was to be bold.” The drama deals with racial tension in the aftermath of a young couple in Modesto, California, who were attacked in their home.

Matt Skokie, a war vet, was killed, and his wife, Lily, is unconscious, barely hanging on. Both sets of parents are at her bedside hoping for a miracle while four suspects are about to be arrested. The case sends shock waves into the community stirring up tensions across racial lines. It stars Timothy Hutton and Felicity Huffman. ”I could not be more proud of ‘American Crime’,” Lee said.

ABC ad sales head Geri Wang has promised media buyers better measurement on expanded platforms and an aggressive push on dynamic insertion on VOD.

When the current season ends in a few weeks, ABC will, for the third straight year, be in fourth place among viewers under 50. Clearly Lee is hoping that the new shows and scheduling will help the network get back to the strong position that it enjoyed during the early seasons of ‘Desperate Housewives’ and ‘Lost’.