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ABC: Lee Looks to Build on Drama Successes

Complete coverage of the 2012 upfronts
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NBC: Betting Big on Comedy, 'The Voice'
CW Shifts Six of Its Seven Returning Series
USA: Expanding Beyond Drama
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ESPN: Promoting 'Face' Value
Univision: Getting Into the TV Everywhere Game
Telemundo Media Hopes to Capture 'Duality' of Hispanic Audience
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Discovery en Español Gets in the Game

STRATEGY: Grow newer drama hits like Revenge with strong scheduling while expanding comedy success beyond Wednesday nights.

After a season that bid farewell to Desperate Housewives and saw new hits in Once Upon a Time and Revenge, ABC is looking to build its next franchise, ordering six new dramas, along with putting a comedy stake in the ground on Tuesday and Friday.

"We need to solidify our successes and we need to build for the future," ABC Entertainment Group president Paul Lee said last week on a conference call with the press.

In that spirit, ABC will move the buzzy Revenge to Desperate Housewives' old 9 p.m. slot on Sunday to lead out of Once, the top-rated new drama of the season, in an effort to pump up the former's ratings in its sophomore year. Lee sees it as a good pairing for appointment television, saying, "Both shows have real cinematic ambition."

Capping Sunday at 10 p.m. is the new 666 Park Avenue, about an unsuspecting young couple who agree to manage a residential building with supernatural forces. Soapy musical drama Nashville, about a waning country legend (Friday Night Lights' Connie Britton) and the young star (Heroes' Hayden Panettiere) threatening to steal her spotlight, will inherit Revenge's old slot on Wednesday at 10, a move Lee calls a "win-win" for both series.

ABC's final fall drama is the action thriller Last Resort, from creator Shawn Ryan (The Shield), about the displaced crew of a nuclear submarine who must seek refuge on an exotic island. The network will attempt to self-start the drama on Thursday at 8 p.m., a problem time period for ABC in recent seasons.

While Lee said ABC made a great start this season with hits like Once, Revenge and Suburgatory, he acknowledged to the network's upfront audience last week that, "We have a lot of work to do" and said next season will be "about doubling down."

On the comedy side, that means relocating Happy Endings and Don't Trust the B---- in Apartment 23 to Tuesday to create a "wildly inappropriate comedy block," countering the new Tuesday comedies that Fox and NBC announced last week.

Lee expressed confidence that the ABC sitcoms' passionate audiences will find them on a new night, while also downplaying any head-to-head competition between those shows or NBC's The Voice and the Dancing With the Stars results show, which will shift ahead an hour in the fall to Tuesday at 8 p.m.

"I do think there's room on all broadcast networks to get big ratings, despite what's on other networks," Lee said.

ABC is also looking to breathe new life into DWTS after the reality stalwart's ratings tired during this cycle with weak casting. Dancing's next season in the fall will be an all-star edition, seeing the return of fan-favorite contestants.

When Dancing is off cycle next January, Tuesdays will expand to two hours of comedy to launch the self-explanatory Sarah Chalke starrer How to Live With Your Parents (For the Rest of Your Life) and The Family Tools, about a man who takes over the family handyman business, at 8 and 8:30 p.m., respectively.

ABC's most choice time slot, Wednesdays at 9:30 p.m. following Modern Family, will go to The Neighbors, which Lee billed as "a family comedy with a twist," about a family that moves to a New Jersey community only to find that all their neighbors are aliens.

Lee will also take ABC back to its T.G.I.F. roots, programming an hour of family comedy on Fridays, "something that I have wanted to do since I came to this network," he said. Starting in November, the returning Tim Allen comedy Last Man Standing will lead into the new Malibu Country, which stars Reba McEntire as a recently divorced woman who moves her mother and two kids to California to pursue a country music career.

New ABC series presently unscheduled are action drama Red Widow, paranormal thriller Zero Hour and female friendship soap Mistresses, the latter of which will likely bow next May after The Bachelor.

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