In a major shakeup at ABC on the eve of the annual summer tour of the Television Critics Association in Los Angeles, Steve McPherson, President, ABC Entertainment Group, has submitted his resignation. He will likely be replaced by Paul Lee, President, ABC Family, according to a number of media reports.
According to James Hibberd and Kim Masters at The Hollywood Reporter’s Live Feed blog, McPherson said in a statement, " ‘I want to thank the wonderful team of individuals who have worked with me throughout my time [at ABC] and wish them nothing but the best,’ McPherson said in a statement. ‘I will be announcing my future plans shortly which will include a new entrepreneurial venture in the spirits business. While I will continue with my ongoing wine business, I’ll also reveal plans for my involvement in a new media company.’ "
Later, ABC officially released a statement that was far more minimalist: "Steve McPherson today submitted his resignation as President, ABC Entertainment Group, and the Company accepted. Mr. McPherson said, ‘I want to thank the wonderful team of individuals who have worked with me throughout my time here and wish them nothing but the best.’ A replacement for Mr. McPherson will be announced shortly."
Though ABC won’t officially confirm it, most media reports say Lee will likely replace McPherson.
According to ABC’s oficial bio about Lee, here’s what it says:
"Upon arriving at [ABC Family] in 2004, Lee conceived its mission to represent "A New Kind of Family" with an ambitious slate of original and acquired programming that reflect today’s families and relationships and that tell relevant stories with diversity, dysfunction, passion, humor and heart. He launched a plan to target the young adult Millennial audience on multiple platforms with relatable programming that is about family, not for family.
"The network has shown six years of consecutive growth, was 2009’s ad supported cable’s No. 1 destination for original movies, has the biggest programming event on cable with "25 Days of Christmas," and launched "The Secret Life of the American Teenager" — currently one of cable’s highest rated original scripted series. The ABC Family brand is among the most relatable on television with Millennials, and Lee has begun the process of taking ABC Family global…"
Reflecting on McPherson’s tenure at ABC, Hibberd and Masters wrote, "Though McPherson was credited for ordering last season’s breakout comedy hit ‘Modern Family’ (which rival studio 20th Century Fox TV produced) he’s had a modest track record in recent years for finding successful shows. ABC routinely develops more programs than any other major broadcaster, yet has had difficulty following up on aging hits like ‘Grey’s Anatomy,’ ‘Lost’ and ‘Desperate Housewives’ — all of which McPherson helped develop while president of Touchstone TV."
The Live Feed article also mentioned that McPherson had an up and down relationship with both Disney/ABC TV Group president Anne Sweeney and Disney CEO Bob Iger. Iger once ran ABC himself.
The article also said that "Last season, [ABC] tied NBC in the ratings for third place, averaging a 2.7 among adults 18-49."
"Last year [McPherson] took control of ABC Studios as well, a shakeup that resulted in the departure of studio chief Mark Pedowitz," the story noted.
One veteran Hollywood TV wag told TVWeek this about McPherson’s six-years atop ABC’s entertainment division: "As everyone in Hollywood knows, these jobs running the broadcast entertainment networks are singularly particular because the moment you take the job everyone’s doing a countdown until, inevitably, you get fired. Given the history of these things, Steve lasted on the longer side and had, in my opinion, anyway, a pretty good track record."