Familiarity breeds contentment ABC's fall season

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NEW YORK — With the TV industry in flux, ABC entertainment chief Karey Burke said a goal for the network's 2019-20 schedule is something network audiences might welcome — familiarity.

There are newcomers, notably Tiffany Haddish, and inevitable cancellations. But ABC said next season represents the lightest hand in more than a decade.

"Viewers love our shows and we are listening to the audience. So this year we're not trying to jam them with too many messages and too many new shows to watch," said Burke, presenting her first schedule since being named to the position last November.

Although ABC had a "tough" start last fall, she said, a ratings rebound since January justifies the approach.

That means nurturing the shows in place, such as long-time ABC successes "Grey's Anatomy" and "The Bachelor" and not "putting on something new for the sake of something new," she said. A marketplace increasingly packed with streaming content is another reason to hold steady, Burke said.

But low-rated series are out, and their replacements include Haddish as host and producer of a reboot of "Kids Say the Darndest Things." Burke told a teleconference the actress-comedian who gained fame in "Girls Trip" was the star she most coveted and other networks competed for her show.

There are three other newbies debuting in fall, including "mixed-ish," a "black-ish" spinoff that stars Arica Himmel as the preteen version of the mom, Rainbow, played by Tracee Ellis Ross in the original show.

Allison Tolman stars in "Emergence," described as a character-driven genre thriller, while the graphic novel-based "Stumptown" stars Cobie Smulders as an Army veteran turned private eye.

The midseason entries include the dramas "For Life," about a prisoner seeking freedom for himself and others, with Curtis "50 Cent" Jackson among the producers, and "The Baker and the Beauty," about the unlikely romance between a working man and a superstar.

The family comedy "United We Fall" also is on deck for midseason.

JIMMY AND OSCAR

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The host of late-night's "Jimmy Kimmel Live!" has signed on for three more years, Burke announced.

The new deal means that "we'll be able to celebrate 20 years together with Jimmy," she said.

He may not be required to rescue ABC from a repeat of this year's no-host Oscars. When controversy drove Kevin Hart from the job, the ceremony failed to woo a replacement and let presenters carry the show.

Although Burke was noncommittal about 2020, she expressed satisfaction with the ceremony and its ratings.

"We're extremely proud of how the show turned out creatively and how well it performed this year," she said. "I think you'll see us not messing with that formula, to the best of our abilities."

Asked if that meant two-time Oscar host Kimmel wouldn't be conscripted, Burke stopped short of ruling it out.

"I'm not being evasive. It's something that the (motion picture) academy makes decisions about later in the year," she said.

TOUGH CALL

Although ABC's cancellation slate is far from a Red Wedding, these seven shows got the axe: "Whiskey Cavalier," ''For the People," ''Dancing with the Stars: Juniors," ''Child Support," ''The Alec Baldwin Show," ''The Kids Are Alright" and "Splitting Up Together."

Add one more: "Speechless," a groundbreaking comedy about a teenager with cerebral palsy, played by Micah Fowler, and his family.

"It was not without great, gut-wrenching consideration that we ultimately made that call," Burke said. It drew an outcry from fans, but the end ratings ruled: it was decided that "Fresh Off the Boat" would do better in the time slot.

That outcome proved ironic for Wu, who experienced her own backlash after she complained online after learning that "Fresh Off the Boat" would return.


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