ABC Entertainment Group President Paul Lee Talks about Network’s Relationship with Marvel, Conversations with LucasFilm, and More

     August 4, 2013


While at the ABC portion of the TCA Press Tour, ABC Entertainment Group President Paul Lee discussed the status of some of their current shows, as well as some of their upcoming projects.  During the interview, he talked about the networks relationship with Marvel, future plans to develop other Disney IPs, that they’ve started conversations with Lucasfilm about possibilities, whether they’re considering any other Once Upon A Time spin-offs, the expectations for Season 3 of Revenge, their hopes for Betrayal, how much longer Grey’s Anatomy could run, and the future of Suburgatory.  Check out what he had to say after the jump.

marvel-agents-of-shield-logoWhat will ABC’s relationship be with Marvel, going forward?  Do you have other things actively in development, or are you waiting to see how Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. does?

PAUL LEE:  We are loving this relationship.  We have lots of little schemes, in the back of our mind.  We haven’t quite got one ready that we can announce yet.  But the relationship with Marvel, and actually with other Disney IP, across the company, is something that we’re ambitious to build, absolutely.

Now that LucasFilm is part of the family, have there been any conversations about long-term plans that you might want to do there?

LEE:  Yeah, I certainly have a glint in my eye.  Look, they have a lot on their plate with the features that they’re planning and rolling out for the next few years.  But, we’ve started conversations with them, and it would be nice to see, over the next few years, that we could use other strong Disney IP, besides the ones lying behind S.H.I.E.L.D.  I would love to go there.  I’m a particular fan of LucasFilm.  It’s an amazing world. 

Wonderland was originally announced as a bridge between Once Upon a Time’s fall and spring.  What made you decide to move it to the fall?

LEE:  Well, we just fell in love with it.  Partly, we were looking to build a real block, on Thursday night, of empowered women.  This is Alice like you have never seen Alice before.  She’s a truly kick-ass Alice.  And our amazing creators with Adam [Horowitz] and Eddie [Kitsis] have created a very, very interesting story.  As we started to go down that rabbit hole, it was a rabbit hole that I wanted to go down for the full season.  They are excited about it.  We have great showrunners on it, and we think it’s going to be great on Thursday night.

once-upon-a-time-in-wonderlandAre you considering any other Once Upon A Time spin-offs?

LEE:  I think our guys have got a lot on their plates.  At this moment, we’re not considering any other spin-offs.  Once is heading into the world of Neverland.  Peter Pan is going to be a fascinating character, and I think Adam and Eddie have got a really good take on how the show continues, in that direction.  And then, we go down the rabbit hole on Thursday nights at 8 o’clock, and I think they’re having lots of fun with that.  So, at this point, we’re just concentrating on the two shows.

If Rebel Wilson is known for being Australian, why does she have to be an American in Super Fun Night?

LEE:  No, it was actually Rebel’s choice to put on an American accent, but she’s going to be fantastic at it.  She’s actually extremely good at it, and she has such a creative force.  She’s one of the writers, with John Riggi.  She’s so funny, and she brings such a presence to everything she does.  She has an in-built fan base, who are already very engaged with the show.  So, it was her choice, and we fully supported it.

What are your expectations for Season 3 of Revenge, with a new showrunner?

LEE:  I have to give Mike [Kelley] and Phillip Noyce, who directed the pilot, credit because it was fabulous.  I think we stumbled a little bit in second season, but Mike is one of the great showrunners.  What Sunil Nayar is bringing to us is a slightly less complicated and really interesting take.  I don’t know how much we’ve revealed, and we’re not allowed to reveal anything, but the first episode back is a fantastic episode, starting with a magnificent hook.  I think you’re going to see that one enjoying itself, in its third season.

revenge-posterWhat are your hopes for Betrayal?

LEE:  Well, we’ve constructed it as a 13-episode run and we’re really making it like a cable series, inasmuch as we are very happy to push the boundaries on that show.  We do think that it’s going to be a more natural pairing with Revenge.  We think those two will sit very well together.  We’ll market them both together.  Revenge has a bright, glossy, deliciousness about it, and Betrayal has a slow build that gives it a different tone.  On the other hand, I do think the two of them are very well matched together, and we’re looking forward to seeing the flow-through from those two.

Do you have a timetable for how much longer Grey’s Anatomy will run?

LEE:  Yeah, I think it should, and I hope it will, go on for many, many years to come.  Shonda [Rhimes] is an extraordinary creative force.  But, the reality is that she certainly is planning a number of series out.  She will, as she always does, bring changes that are extraordinary.  But, it is the #1 drama on television, when you look at the C3s, and that’s an extraordinary accomplishment, after so many years.  So, we would like to see it on the network for many years to some.  We’re very, very proud of it.

What do you see as the future of Suburgatory?

LEE:  We have a little inkling, in our mind, where that show is going to go.  I think Emily Kapnek’s got an extraordinary voice.  She’s going to bring the show back to the fish-out-of-water story that it was originally intended to be, and that the first season enjoyed.  I know she’s having a lot of fun with it. 

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