Upfronts 2017: ABC Talks Up ‘Defining Moments’

Upfronts 2017: Complete Coverage

ABC said it has a vast array of “defining moments”—memorable instances with a lasting impact on viewers—at its upfront presentation at Lincoln Center Tuesday. Lea Michele, who stars in new comedy The Mayor, started things off with a song before Anthony Anderson, star of black-ish, stepped on the stage to offer his take on defining moments.

Anderson then introduced Ben Sherwood co-chair, Disney Media Networks, and president, Disney|ABC Television Group, who he described as “the whitest person in America.”

Sherwood acknowledged that ABC must do better than it has. “We have higher standards for our performance,” he said.

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The network president added that ABC favors shows that are “universal, addictive, binge-worthy, and, most of all, noisy.”

Sherwood then shared a letter from late night host Jimmy Kimmel, who could not attend due to the birth of his son. Kimmel’s letter joked that he did not make it to the presentation because he was boycotting it over the cancellation of Dr. Ken.

Next up was Rita Ferro, president of Disney|ABC ad sales, who vowed to break down the walls between Disney’s broadcast and cable channels. She added that a dollar spent on ABC has 22% more ROI than its nearest competitor.

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Kiefer Sutherland next stepped on stage to talk about the next season of Designated Survivor, then introduce Channing Dungey, entertainment president.

“Great storytelling is always the goal here at ABC,” she said.

Dungey announced that Katy Perry will be a judge on American Idol. “Get ready for a bold American Idol!” she said.

ABC is also resurrecting comedy Roseanne, with the cast and much of the writing staff back on board for the show that signed off in 1997. “There’s no one better to comment on our modern America than Roseanne,” said Dungey.

The cast then came out. “This is gonna be fun!” enthused Roseanne Barr.

Dungey then saluted Jimmy Kimmel, and said he and screenwriter Justin Theroux are teaming up on a live sitcom special, as yet untitled, that sees classic sitcom scripts acted out live by the biggest names in comedy.

Mid-season shows include Shonda Rhimes’ legal drama For the People. A Grey’s Anatomy spinoff, about firefighters, is also on for the mid-season.

The presentation then offered a salute to Scandal, before the cast came out. The show’s next season will be its final one. “We are, and we will always be, citizens of Shondaland,” said Kerry Washington. “And ABC.”

Michael Malone

Michael Malone, senior content producer at B+C/Multichannel News, covers network programming, including entertainment, news and sports on broadcast, cable and streaming; and local broadcast television. He hosts the podcasts Busted Pilot, about what’s new in television, and Series Business, a chat with the creator of a new program, and writes the column “The Watchman.” He joined B+C in 2005. His journalism has also appeared in The New York Times, The Philadelphia Inquirer, Playboy and New York magazine.