ABC at TCA: “The Middle” to say goodbye after nine years

‘The Middle” at TCA. Credit: Photo by Buchan/Variety/REX/Shutterstock

Network targeting families with single-cam comedies

It was ABC day Sunday at the Television Critics Association Press Tour and much like the CBS portion of the tour, there were some confrontational moments, and not just from network management.

The executive portion of the tour provided a lot of chatter on social media as entertainment president Channing Dungey took the stage to answer questions.

Dungey talked about the return of American Idol to the airwaves next year, saying she’s looking forward to putting their unique stamp on the show. She confirmed Ryan Seacrest would be back to host the show, but couldn’t confirm if Seacrest was being cloned given all the jobs he has (and hoping this isn’t the case.)

As for the cancellation of Last Man Standing, Dungey denied politics played a role in the cancellation as a few outlets (falsely) reported, but a desire to scrap the underperforming Friday block. She also pointed out the show is owned by another studio (20th Century Fox) and not ABC Studios, where the bulk of the network’s product comes from – and she isn’t backing away from the practice: “Ownership is a big priority for us,” she said. “I think you’ll continue see more and more close alignment with the studio going forward.”

Dungey also chatted about the Bachelor In Paradise controversy earlier this year, whose hijinxs led to the show temporarily suspending production. The investigation is closed, and Paradise premieres August 14.

Regarding the fourth season of black-ish, Dungey said it’s “going to be off the chain”. I assume reporters at the tour know what that meant (they don’t.)

In other ABC news:

– The network renewed its trio of game shows: Celebrity Family Feud, The $100,000 Pyramid, and Match Game. Alec Baldwin, whose production company co produces the latter show, also scored a first-look development deal with the network. All three are expected to return next summer, as is the yet-to-be renewed The Gong Show. No word however on Battle Of The Network Stars, which worked much better as specials back in the day.

The Inhumans panel was such a disaster on Sunday, critics mistook it for a CBS show (ha ha.) All kidding aside, the presentation went rougher than expected, with reporters questioning why the premiere show hasn’t been finished yet and whether or not the product was worthy to be presented in IMAX.

President of Marvel Television Jeph Loeb snapped at a reporter when asked a question: “I can tell you that it was written on the material that you were given that the show that you have seen is not the finished product. If you’re asking me whether or not it was done, it’s not. So to be perfectly honest, I don’t understand your question.”

The Inhumans panel at Comic-Con was also received poorly, as was the trailer.

Yours truly will have more on this in a future post. And boy, I will have a lot to say.

The Middle recently announced it is closing up shop after nine seasons, and at the TCA panel, the cast and producers promised fans they the wrap-up will be something “they will love.” The show’s creators said it was their decision to end. Co-creator DeAnne Heline pointed out the series’ appeal beyond Middle America, reaching into the urban cores and worldwide.

“What we find is that The Middle is now playing everywhere around the world, and what’s amazing is that whether you’re someone who’s in an urban city or in another country, everyone can identify with it.” Regarding the return of Roseanne – another series that ran for nine seasons on ABC with a similar concept,  Heline noted:” It’s great that “Roseanne” is coming back because it means in another eight years we can all come back!”

At the other end of the culture spectrum, believe it or not, there is a connection between the new show The Mayor and Chicago’s own Chance The Rapper. Creator Jeremy Bronson notes the show was inspired by Chance and Hamilton star Daveed Diggs, who is executive producer and writes music on the show.

“I knew Daveed was part of all sorts of community groups and these small collectives doing music together,” Bronson said at TCA. “And then when I read about Chance also starting out doing his poetry in the multi-purpose room of his high school, I thought it was very, very interesting.”

Chance The Rapper drew a huge crowd at Lollapalooza in Chicago over the weekend as the headlining act – more than 100,000 people were gathered at Grant Park to see him perform.

The premise of the show features a California rapper looking to promote his music decides to run for mayor as a publicity stunt and stuns everyone – even himself – when he winds up winning. And it could wind up as life imitating art: at the Lollapalooza concert, Chance openly dissed current Chicago mayor Rahm Emanuel on stage.

He’s got my vote.

Jimmy Kimmel is taking his late-night show back on the road to New York, heading once again to Brooklyn as he is taping shows at the Brooklyn Academy of Music from October 16-20.