ABC boss Paul Lee talks ‘Muppet’ issues, new ‘Game of Thrones'-like Bible drama


Paul Lee, president of ABC Entertainment Group, touted new drama “Quantico,” but mentioned disappointment at “The Muppets” during the 2016 Television Critics Association press tour.

(Bob D’Amico / AP)

ABC boss Paul Lee acknowledged the network’s much-hyped revival of “The Muppets” didn’t quite bring the warm fuzzies.

Lee, president of ABC Entertainment Group, talked about the freshman reboot’s lackluster appeal during his presentation Saturday at the Television Critics Assn. press tour in Pasadena.

Before that, Lee topped things off by touting a particular bright spot in the network’s fall rollout: its Sunday FBI whodunit drama “Quantico.” Lee characterized the Priyanka Chopra-led freshman series as an important asset to ABC -- “We really think the show has legs.”

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But when it came to the network’s heavily publicized reboot of “The Muppets,” Lee was blunt about its unevenness.

The series put much-beloved Kermit, Miss Piggy, and friends back onto the TV screen. And while it brought in decent returns ratings-wise, the comedy’s personality wasn’t quite what Lee had in mind.

“The show itself didn’t quite feel it had the joy and the laughter and the heart that it should have,” he said.

New showrunner Kristin Newman was recruited last year to replace Bob Kushell. Lee said he was encouraged by the five scripts he’s seen so far.


Lee also expressed enthusiasm that the network can turn around its troubles in the 10 p.m. hour on Tuesdays following the flop launch of serial killer drama “Wicked City,” which was canceled after three episodes.

In March, the network will launch the biblical saga “Of King and Prophets,” a retelling of the Old Testament story of David and King Saul that seems to be aiming for the feel of “Game of Thrones.”

Producers of the drama, which will air Tuesdays with “Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD,” repeatedly made reference to HBO’s fantasy drama during the show’s panel on Saturday--like in noting its crew is just as big as “Game of Thrones” or pointing out that, like “Game of Thrones,” the pilot to “Of King and Prophets” was reworked. 

Lee, for his part, said “Of Kings and Prophets” is a “muscular, theatrical, brilliantly done show.”

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