NEW YORK – ABC is cutting its aging Dancing With the Stars back to two hours and one night next season, creating a slot for a new drama series based on the Marvel Comics world that’s aimed at expanding the network’s audience, its programming chief said Tuesday.
Condensing the celebrity dancing contest on Monday night opens up Tuesday for a pretty aggressive play, said Paul Lee, ABC Entertainment Group president, whose network became the third of the major broadcasters to announce its 2013-14 schedule. The network’s entire Tuesday lineup for the fall is made up of new series.
Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., from hit-maker Joss Whedon of Buffy the Vampire Slayer and The Avengers films, will help broaden the audience for ABC, which is the network leader among young adult women, Lee said. The comic-book based series presumably will attract some younger men to the network. Dancing With the Stars is big with older women.
Among the other new dramas are Once Upon a Time in Wonderland, a spinoff from the fairy tale series Once Upon a Time, and the Stephen Spielberg-produced Lucky 7, about a group of gas station employees who win the lottery.
Lee also touted the network’s new comedies, especially Super Fun Night, written by and starring Bridesmaids breakout star Rebel Wilson as a single young attorney, and The Goldbergs, about a geeky preteen growing up in the 1980s who puts his family’s antics on videotape.
ABC is introducing a total of 14 new shows next season.
ABC will take a less traditional approach to scheduling, Lee said, breaking some of its series into two sets of 12 episodes with a break between them to avoid airing repeats. The gap will be filled by limited-run shows, including dramas, he said.
Other new ABC dramas include Betrayal, about a photographer and her husband with political aspirations, with James Cromwell in the cast; Killer Women, a Texas Rangers drama focused on a female ranger; Mind Games, with Steve Zahn and Christian Slater as problem-solvers for hire; and Resurrection, starring Omar Epps, about a small town where the dead return to life.
The new comedies include sitcom Back in the Game, about a single mom and her estranged dad, played by James Caan; the singles sitcom Mixology and Trophy Wife, starring Malin Akerman as a newlywed who gets a husband (Bradley Whitford) and three stepchildren.
Also on tap for next season is The Quest, a reality series from producers whose credits include The Lord of the Rings and The Amazing Race, and the special Toy Story of Terror, which puts the characters from Toy Story on a scary road trip. Original cast members Tom Hanks and Tim Allen are among the voice actors.
A move is afoot for The Neighbors, which will be paired with Last Man Standing on Friday.
Among the network’s canceled series are Body of Proof, Malibu Country and Happy Endings, which Lee called a favorite but which failed to draw ratings.