ABC chief Paul Lee defends moving 'Grey's Anatomy' earlier

By Daniel S Levine,

ABC Entertainment President Paul Lee defended the network’s decision to air Grey’s Anatomy earlier than past seasons this fall. The idea of airing the steamy Shonda Rhimes-created medical drama at 8 p.m. may be questionable, but Lee said he didn’t think labeling that timeslot as a family hour works any longer.

“I think it’s much less relevant than it was than five years ago,” Lee said during a press conference, reports Entertainment Weekly. When another reporter suggested that ABC has been known for family-friendly programming in the past, Lee said that their sales department was not worried. He called it a “non-issue.”

By moving Grey’s to 8 p.m., ABC had the opportunity to make Thursday a night full of Rhimes projects. They have scheduled Scandal for 9 p.m. that night and will air her latest, How To Get Away With Murder, at 10 p.m. The new show stars Viola Davis.

Scandal has been a huge hit with Kerry Washington as the main character. According to the Hollywood Reporter, Lee noted that diversity is important for the network. That’s why it picked up Black-ish, about a middle class black father raising his kids; Cristela, which centers on a Latin American woman; and American Crime from 12 Years A Slave writer John Ridley.

“We wanted to reflect the changing face of America,” Lee said. He later said that the country has changed, explaining, “We saw that in the election cycle, we see it in everything that's happening. [To air these shows is] perfectly appropriate for a network like this; and, in fact, I think it's the right thing to do now.”

Lee was also asked about cancelled shows, like Trophy Wife and Suburgatory. According to Deadline, one reporter said it was wrong to not give Trophy Wife the post-Modern Family slot. Lee claimed that Trophy Wife was promoted “in a whole lot of different ways…and in the end I’m sorry it didn’t come back.”

top image courtesy of ABC/Bob D'Amico

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