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Upfronts 2018: ABC boosts fall's comedy content lineup with new sitcoms


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Upfronts 2018: ABC boosts fall's comedy content lineup with new sitcoms

Keeping three nights intact, ABC (US) added a couple sitcoms to its already comedy-centric lineup and a pair of dramas that will cap two of the evenings on its upcoming fall programming schedule.

Channing Dungey, president of ABC Entertainment, walked media buyers through those and other changes for ABC and cable network Freeform (US) during an upfront presentation on the afternoon of May 15. The event marked just one in a day of ad pitches for Walt Disney Co.: sports programmer ESPN (US) held a separate presentation ahead of the ABC event.

The second season of a "Roseanne" revival — which ABC executives continually noted was broadcast's No. 1 show this year, a distinction held by ABC for the first time in 24 years — will be used to launch "The Kids are Alright" on Tuesday. The new ensemble comedy offers a look at what it was like to grow up in an Irish-Catholic family with eight boys in the 1970s. Michael Cudlitz and Mary McCormack play the parents of the Cleary clan.

"Black-ish" will follow at 9 p.m., with the recently launched "Splitting up Together" serving as a lead-in to "The Rookie." The new crime drama stars Nathan Fillion ("Castle") as John Nolan, who encounters a life-altering experience that prompts him to pursue his dream of being a cop at age 40.

Wednesday begins with "The Goldbergs" at 8 p.m., ahead of "American Housewife" at a new time. The 10th season of "Modern Family" will launch the new comedy, "Single Parents" in which a groups of moms and dads lean on each other to help raise their 7-year-olds, while looking to retain some measure of themselves beyond parenting. The 10 p.m. slot will be occupied by "A Million Little Things," a drama about a group of friends in Boston whose lives and paths are disrupted after one commits suicide. The show gave off an emotional "This Is Us" feel in ABC's sizzle reel.

On Fridays, which Dungey noted has long been a staple of comedy for ABC, the network has shifted "Fresh Off the Boat" and "Speechless" into the 8 p.m. hour. The sophomore season of game-show series "Child Support" follows at 9 p.m., while "20/20," celebrating its 40th year, is on tap at 10 p.m.

Sunday is a combination of the tried and the new. The 29th season of "America's Funniest Home Videos" starts at 7 p.m., with "Dancing With the Stars: Junior," which elicited strong applause from the media buyers attending the event at David Geffen Hall, slated at 8 p.m. "Shark Tank" is at 9 p.m., while "The Alec Baldwin Show," which had a sneak preview in February, closes the night.

Mid-season replacements include "Schooled," a spinoff of "The Goldbergs"; "The Fix" about an L.A. district attorney who relocates to Washington, D.C., after a major loss; and "Grand Hotel," about the last family-owned hotel in Miami Beach. Dungey said that she loves that the new upstairs/downstairs drama features Hispanics on the top floors.

The fourth mid-season replacement, "Whiskey Cavalier," tracks the professional and personal relationship between an FBI agent Will Chase, portrayed by Scott Foley, and CIA operative "Frankie" Trowbridge, played by Lauren Cohan.

As to Freeform, Ben Sherwood, co-chair of Disney Media Networks-president of Disney|ABC Television Group, said its inclusion at the upfront for the first time this year was aimed at appealing to a wider range of viewers, from "teenagers to baby-boomers and everyone in between."

Freeform President Tom Ascheim told media buyers that the network has "hit our stride" two years after its brand relaunch and that it ranks second this season among women 18 to 34. The cable network was touring new hits "Grown-ish" and "Siren," upcoming Marvel series "Cloak and Dagger" and "Pretty Little Liars" spinoff "The Perfectionists."