After weeks of headlines about its revival of the not-yet-classic “American Idol,” the competition series was hardly the main attraction Tuesday evening at ABC’s upfront presentation to advertisers in New York.
Sure, it got some stage time, with ABC Entertainment President Channing Dungey officially announcing pop star Katy Perry as the show’s anchor judge.
But there was other business to tend to, such as performances from Lea Michele (who stars in the network’s upcoming comedy “The Mayor”) and the Backstreet Boys (member Nick Carter will judge on ABC’s other singing competition series, “Boy Band”), who naturally sang “Everybody (Backstreet’s Back)”. There were also appearances by “Designated Survivor” star Kiefer Sutherland and Anthony Anderson of “black-ish.” Plus official news of “Scandal’s” farewell season and the return of “Roseanne” (more on that later).
The 100-minute presentation at Lincoln Center marks Dungey’s second upfront as entertainment chief. Last year, she was just three months into the job. But the 2017-18 lineup marks her first comprehensive slate.
There was an emphasis on “moments” and “connection” during the pitch to advertisers — with references to the “black-ish” election episode and Jimmy Kimmel’s recent, moving monologue about his newborn son’s heart condition.
Here were the highlights and one noticeable absence:
“Roseanne” is indeed returning: As we told you earlier on Tuesday, the groundbreaking comedy that ran for nine seasons on the network is making a return to TV screens. Roseanne Bar and the show’s entire cast will reprise their roles — and many were on hand, plopped on the now-iconic couch to share their excitement.
“Revisiting the family is the kind of thing we think about all the time,” star John Goodman, who played patriarch Dan Conner, told the packed room.
Barr added: “We did this show for years, and we thought we were done talking. But we found out we got a whole lot more to say...This is going to be fun!”
“Scandal” is ending: It’s unclear if Olivia Pope will ever have a handle on all the shenanigans inside the Beltway, but “Scandal” is bidding adieu, nonetheless. The cast of the popular Shonda Rhimes series was on hand to start the show’s farewell tour.
“We are extraordinarily proud of what we’ve created with ‘Scandal’ at ABC,” star Kerry Washington said.
She continued by reading a note from Rhimes, who was finalizing edits on the show’s upcoming season finale, that read in part:
“Deciding how to end a show is easy. Deciding when to finish is quite simple when the end date is years away. But actually going through with it, actually standing up to say, ‘This is it,’ not so much… Next year, we are going all out — leaving nothing on the table.”
Kimmel’s absence was felt but he still managed to get off a few zingers: The late-night host, who has become a perennial fixture at ABC’s presentation, sat this year’s out to be home with his family. But Kimmel, who will return as host of the Academy Awards next year, sent along a note that Disney/ABC TV Group chief Ben Sherwood, Disney/ABC TV Group chief read on his behalf.
First off, the real reason for his absence, he joked: “As many of you know, I’m boycotting the ABC upfront this year to protest the cancellation of ‘Dr. Ken.’”
He continued by adding that his son, Billy, is doing well and promised to make his return next year — that is, “in the off chance network television continues to exist.”