ABC’s New President Makes Her Mark With Major Schedule Changes for Fall

TGIT gets its first non-Shonda Rhimes show

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For her first fall schedule, new ABC Entertainment president Channing Dungey proved she's not afraid to shake things up in an attempt to reverse ABC's slide to fourth place among adults 18-49 this season.

Not even the TGIT lineup of all Shonda Rhimes-produced shows was left intact—Dungey's new schedule upends five nights of television. (Last fall's schedule, under previous chief Paul Lee, kept four nights the same as the previous fall.)

"Our new shows reflect the inclusive and empowering storytelling that defines the ABC brand. We will continue to raise the bar for our audience, investing in great storytellers and reflecting the authentic faces and voices of the world around us," said Dungey, who took over from Lee in February, in a statement.

Last week Dungey canceled Castle and Nashville, which opened up spots on Monday and Wednesday. Kerry Washington's pregnancy, meanwhile, required Scandal to delay its premiere until midseason.

Dungey told reporters that her top priorities this fall were extending ABC's brand of family comedies (especially after this year's comedy development was "very, very strong"), strengthening her 10 p.m. shows and giving her new series "prime spots" to launch in.

On Mondays after Dancing With the Stars, Dungey has scheduled drama Conviction, in which Hayley Atwell (whose Marvel's Agent Carter was canceled last week) is a lawyer and former First Daughter who is forced to head up L.A.'s Conviction Integrity Unit, looking at cases in which the wrong person might have been convicted. "This is the procedural we've been looking for," said Dungey.

The Middle has broken off from Wednesday's comedy block to kick off a new two-hour comedy lineup on Tuesdays. American Housewife (previously called The Second Fattest Housewife in Westport), a comedy about a woman (Mike & Molly's Katy Nixon) raising her family in a "perfect" Connecticut town, follows at 8:30 p.m. Marvel's Agents of SHIELD moves back an hour to 10 p.m. for a second hour of comedy featuring Fresh Off the Boat and The Real O'Neals.

Dungey said SHIELD's later time slot should allow the show to go "a little bit edgier, a little bit darker and take some risks."

ABC's Wednesday comedy lineup will look a bit different in the fall, as The Goldbergs moves up to 8 p.m. to make way for Speechless, a family comedy starring Minnie Driver as a mom with a special-needs child. Modern Family and Black-ish stay put, while Designated Survivor—starring Kiefer Sutherland as a cabinet member who becomes president after a State of the Union attack leaves him the only surviving successor to the Oval Office—replaces the canceled Nashville at 10 p.m. "It's perfectly within his sweet spot, and ours," said Dungey.

TGIT will no longer feature all Shonda Rhimes shows, all the time. Scandal is being pushed to midseason. And while ABC had another Rhimes show on the bench (Still Star-Crossed), it opted to slot Notorious—a drama about how criminal law and the media intersect, based on stories of criminal defense attorney Mark Geragos and cable news producer Wendy Walker—at 9 p.m. in between Grey's Anatomy and How to Get Away With Murder.

Dungey explained that Still Star-Crossed was always intended to be a midseason show, because "it's a big, epic, sweeping period saga" that requires additional production time. Meanwhile, the network's other Rhimes-produced drama, The Catch, was already tapped to take over for How to Get Away With Murder in midseason.

Friday is unchanged from last year: Last Man Standing, Dr. Ken, Shark Tank and 20/20. And Saturday's college football games will also air as usual.

Sundays remain semi-stable, with America's Funniest Home Videos, Once Upon a Time, Secrets and Lies (which airs in fall for the first time, as a 10-episode closed-ended season), and Quantico.

Two comedies have been held for midseason: Downward Dog (Alison Tolman's dog narrates her life for the camera) and Imaginary Mary (Jenna Elfman falls for a divorced father of three, and her imaginary friend from childhood, Rachel Dratch, reappears to help her become a mom). ABC also has two dramas in reserve: Still Star-Crossed (Rhimes' latest drama continues the story of Romeo and Juliet, and how the fallout from their story affects the Montagues and Capulets) and Time After Time (based on the Karl Alexander novel about a young H.G. Wells and his time machine), which Dungey said will air Sundays at 9.

Also at midseason, American Crime will return, along with When We Rise (a limited series about the LGBT rights movement from Milk screenwriter Dustin Lance Black); a Dirty Dancing three-hour filmed musical event (starring Abigail Breslin as Baby); a special honoring Muhammad Ali; and a new David Blaine special.

"The schedule very much reflects my sensibility about where I think the network is and where we want to be going," said Dungey.

ABC Fall 2016-2017 Schedule (new programs in bold)

Monday

8-10 p.m. — Dancing With the Stars

10-11 p.m. — Conviction

Tuesday

8-8:30 p.m. — The Middle (new time slot)

8:30-9 p.m. — American Housewife 

9-9:30 p.m. — Fresh Off the Boat (new time slot)

9:30-10 p.m. — The Real O'Neals (new time slot)

10-11 p.m. — Marvel's Agents of SHIELD (new time slot)

Wednesday

8-8:30 p.m. — The Goldbergs (new time)

8:30-9 p.m. — Speechless

9-9:30 p.m. — Modern Family

9:30-10 p.m. — Black-ish

10-11 p.m. — Designated Survivor

Thursday

8-9 p.m. — Grey's Anatomy

9-10 p.m. — Notorious

10-11 p.m. — How to Get Away With Murder

Friday

8-8:30 p.m. — Last Man Standing

8:30-9 p.m. — Dr. Ken

9-10 p.m. — Shark Tank

10-11 p.m. — 20/20

Saturday

8-11 p.m. — Saturday Night Football

Sunday

7-8 p.m. — America's Funniest Home Videos

8-9 p.m. — Once Upon a Time

9-10 p.m. — Secrets and Lies

10-11 p.m. — Quantico

Midseason

American Crime, The Bachelor, Beyond the Tank, The Catch, Downward Dog, Imaginary Mary, Scandal, Still Star-Crossed, Time After Time


@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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