At ABC, ‘Idol’ will have to wait, and Fridays and Sundays get a makeover

Like Ryan Seacrest tossing to a commercial break for dramatic effect, ABC is saving the unveiling of its big bet to revive “American Idol” for mid-season.

The network revealed no details on a host or panel of judges, and there was no information about a firm premiere date or the show’s format when ABC Entertainment President Channing Dungey spoke with reporters during a conference call Tuesday morning ahead of the network’s presentation to advertisers in New York.

But one thing Dungey would say: “This is going to be ABC’s version of ‘American Idol.’”


As viewers wait to find out exactly what that means, the alphabet network is introducing five new series in the fall — more than any other network so far. And it’s doing some significant remodeling to its schedule for Fridays and Sundays.

For fall launch, the long-running reality series “Dancing ith the Stars” will serve as the springboard on Mondays for the new 10 p.m. drama “The Good Doctor,” about a young surgeon (Freddie Highmore, “Bates Motel”) with autism and savant syndrome.

Tuesday and Wednesday keep their funny bones intact, retaining their two-hour comedy blocks. “The Middle” once again leads Tuesdays at 8 p.m., followed by “Fresh Off the Boat” at its new time. And “black-ish” moves from its Wednesday slot to 9 p.m., paving the way for a new comedy, “The Mayor,” about a young rapper-turned-mayor.

“We feel that after three years behind ‘Modern Family,’ ‘black-ish’ is ready to anchor its own night of television. The show is creatively on fire,” Dungey said.

A new drama, “The Gospel of Kevin,” featuring Jason Ritter (“Parenthood”) as a down-on-his-luck guy tasked with saving the world, ends the night.

Wednesday keeps its lineup mostly the same, with “The Goldbergs” leading the night at 8, followed by “Speechless” and a ninth season of “Modern Family.” Taking over the 9:30 p.m. time slot formerly held by “black-ish” is “American Housewife.” “Designated Survivor” will cap off the night at 10.

The one programming night to go untouched by the network is Thursday, which returns with its lineup of Shonda Rhimes-produced dramas: “Grey’s Anatomy,” the final season of “Scandal” and “How to Get Away With Murder.”

With the cancellation of “Dr. Ken” and “Last Man Standing,” ABC is revamping Fridays. The newly retooled “Once Upon a Time” will kick things off at 8 p.m. and lead into a new superhero drama, “Marvel’s Inhumans,” about a royal family that rules a secluded race of genetically advanced humans.

Saturdays, meanwhile, will remain the home of college football in the fall. But the tweaks to Friday bring a reality check to Sunday. “America’s Funniest Home Videos” will still start off the night at 7, followed by fellow reality series “To Tell The Truth” and “Shark Tank.” The night is not a total fish bowl, however. New drama “Ten Days in the Valley,” which stars Kyra Sedgwick as a working single mom whose life is upended when her young daughter goes missing, will close the night.

As the season progresses, more unscripted series will roll out, including a kiddie version of “Dancing With the Stars” and “Bachelor Winter Games,” featuring past contenders on the dating show. The network also has plans for a “Little Mermaid Live” two-hour musical event in October and a three-hour live “Rolling Stone 50” musical tribute in February 2018.

In addition to “Idol,” other mid-season launches include two other comedies — “Alex, Inc.,” starring Zach Braff, and “Splitting Up Together” — and dramas “For the People,” produced by Shonda Rhimes, as well as “Deception” and “The Crossing.” The network also announced an eight-episode reboot of its groundbreaking comedy “Roseanne” for 2018.

The current political climate, Dungey acknowledged during the conference call, figured into the network’s show selection process.

“There’s a lot of news, and I think people are definitely looking to television as a place where they want to feel — they want to laugh, they want to cry, they want to enjoy,” Dungey said. “What the mood of the country has told us is that television is a little bit of an escape… That did frame a lot of our development thinking this season.”

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