Upfronts: Day Two – ABC

While MindShare's managing partner/director of broadcast, Lina Alles, is in New York doing her own thing at the upfronts, she's also kindly serving as MiC's on-the-scene reporter.

ABC unveiled its new fall schedule yesterday at Lincoln Center. Like NBC, they kept the presentation short, at an hour and a half. Unlike NBC, whose focus was the digital world, and going ‘beyond 30 seconds,’ ABC stated that TV is their primary focus and that they still believe in the power of television to reach and engage consumers. Not a bad move, given that they are a TV broadcaster, they’re still selling and we’re still buying 30 second ads. It is their bread & butter after all!

Of course, ABC recognizes the power of digital – as a complement to television – and its digital strategy is to create great programming for the network that becomes appointment TV, which then drives opportunity on every platform.

So what is this great programming that, if missed on television, we will search out online, download onto our iPods, and stream while at work? Well, unfortunately, I don’t think it’s on the schedule ABC unveiled last night.

Overall, ABC showed us 18 new shows! I won’t get into detail on all of them since it would make this column just a tad too long. What I will highlight is the bad, the good, and the ugly. Let’s start with the bad. Actually, most of the shows were bad, but the winner is Cavemen. Yes, the caveman featured in the Geico commercial now has his own show. It’s horrendous, but it will probably do well – although I heard a lot of people saying that if it does make it to top 20, they’ll resign from this business.

The good? Out of 18 shows, the only one that had some potential is a comedy: Sam I Am, about a woman who wakes up from a coma with amnesia. The ugly? It’s a toss-up between reality show America’s Bingo Night and drama Pushing Daisies, about a man who can bring dead people back to life by touching them, but if he touches them again, they die. Yep, someone spent time thinking that one up.

On to the party that was held in a large tent. Unfortunately, ABC invited about 500 more people than would fit, so we were all squeezed in like sardines. And it was hot! The stars were all there having their picture taken with us fans. And unlike NBC’s stars, they actually pretended to look happy. I’m guessing their PR people must have told them to look like they were enjoying themselves.

The Desperate Housewives were there, looking stunning, short and very skinny (I’m thinking they may have had some ribs removed – no one’s that tiny.) Dr. McSteamy and the cast of Grey’s was there, but no McDreamy, who was probably at home with the twins. And for all you Brothers & Sisters fans, yes, Rob Lowe was there. He is very nice and all I can say is that he has aged very well.

Stayed tuned for news from CBS tomorrow.

More on ABC’s 2007-08 Line-up from the MiC Team

The alphabet network introduced seven new dramas, four new comedies, and one limited reality series from Oprah Winfrey. Stating that it is concentrating mainly on remaking its Tuesday and Wednesday night strategy, ABC unveiled the buzzed-about Grey’s Anatomy spinoff, Private Practice (starring Kate Walsh as Dr. Addison Montgomery). It will air in the tentpole position on Wednesday at 9 p.m. – pitting it against NBC’s new Bionic Woman. The net is banking on Private Practice bestowing a halo boost to two other new Wednesday shows: Pushing Daisies (about a baker who can bring the dead back to life, albeit temporarily); and Dirty Sexy Money (starring Six Feet Under‘s Peter Krause as a wealthy but troubled NYC lawyer riding herd on his dysfunctional family).

On Tuesday at 8 p.m., ABC is debuting the sitcom that got so many thumbs-downs yesterday, according to Lina Alles – Cavemen. Adapted from the popular Geico commercials, it’s about a trio of real Neanderthals working in Atlanta. That will be followed by another new comedy, Carpoolers (men yakking about their lives while commuting). Both lead into ABC’s monster hit, Dancing with the Stars.

Boston Legal is currently skedded to return to the Tuesday 10 pm slot, but speculation was rife yesterday that ABC may bump the hit series till mid-season to give a fighting chance to Cashmere Mafia (similar to Sex and the City and also exec-produced by Darren Star).

Another theory making the rounds in New York yesterday is that ABC may try to avoid the fall crunch by airing repeats of Grey’s Anatomy and Private Practice and delaying the start of its Friday night shows – the returning Men in Trees and the new drama Women’s Murder Club (based on novels by bestselling James Patterson, it’s about a detective, district attorney, medical examiner and a reporter working on crimes in San Francisco).

Not expected to bow until later in the fall on Monday – to make room for several two-hour episodes introducing Dancing with the Stars‘s new season – is the half-hour Sam I Am (in which Christina Applegate struggles with amnesia after coming out of a coma caused by a car accident).

Also arriving mid-season will be: Lost; Oprah’s Big Give (in which contestants vie to make the biggest difference in people’s lives); Eli Stone (from Brothers & Sisters XP Greg Berlanti, stars Jonny Lee Miller as a man who believes he may be a prophet); Notes from the Underbelly (a comedy about parenthood from the Two and a Half Men producing team); Mis/Guided (comedy about a woman who returns to high school as a guidance counselor); and the returning October Road.

Also returning to the ABC line-up are: Ugly Betty, Brothers and Sisters, Desperate Housewives, Wife Swap, Supernanny, and Grey’s Anatomy – the latter acting as a lead-in to the new Big Shots (starring Canada’s Donald Sutherland and The Practice‘s Dylan McDermott as one of four dysfunctional CEOs trying to stay on top).

Biting the dust are: George Lopez, Knights of Prosperity, Big Day, Daybreak, The Nine, Help Me Help You, In Case of Emergency, Six Degrees, What About Brian; and According to Jim – although ABC execs said at a press conference yesterday that there’s a slight chance the series will escape the axe.