Kiefer Sutherland Saved the World on 24, but Can He Rescue ABC?

Actor returns to TV in fall’s most anticipated new show

In May, media buyers and advertisers filing into ABC's upfront presentation at Lincoln Center's David Geffen Hall in New York were eager to see what the network's new entertainment president Channing Dungey had in store her first time on stage. Instead, it was ABC's other new president who stole the show. Near the end of the event, Kiefer Sutherland took the stage to discuss Designated Survivor, his new political drama for the network in which he plays the Secretary of Housing and Urban Development, who suddenly becomes president after an attack on the U.S. Capitol kills everyone ahead of him in the presidential line of succession. "I could go on and tell you about the story points of the script, but I promise you, it's much better watching it," Sutherland told the crowd. Then, instead of playing a standard upfront trailer, the network did something unexpected, airing the drama's entire, riveting first act. The last time ABC played something longer than a trailer for upfront audiences was seven years ago when it showed the full pilot of a little show called Modern Family, which went on to become one of TV's biggest hits.

@jasonlynch jason.lynch@adweek.com Jason Lynch is TV Editor at Adweek, overseeing trends, technology, personalities and programming across broadcast, cable and streaming video.
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