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ABC chief blasts lack of Emmy nods for popular shows

July 19, 2006|Greg Braxton | Times Staff Writer

Memo from ABC Entertainment President Stephen McPherson to the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences: You blew it.

When he appeared in front of reporters Tuesday at the Television Critics Assn.'s press tour, McPherson blasted the academy for the absence of major nominations for the network's "Desperate Housewives" and "Lost," both top winners in last year's ceremony.

"To have that kind of oversight is just remarkable," bristled McPherson, saying he felt that new nomination rules and the creation of blue-ribbon committees that were intended to help open up the categories to oft-overlooked shows in fact ended up hurting those ABC series. (Last year, "Lost" won outstanding drama, while Felicity Huffman of "Desperate Housewives" scored outstanding lead actress in a comedy. Three of "Desperate Housewives' " four lead actresses were nominated last year.)

Noting those wins and nominations, McPherson said their omission this year was troubling: "There's a problem." He said he also felt there were a lot of "odd positives and negatives" with the nominations, and he advised the academy to reexamine the rules "and see that the changes weren't all good."

McPherson also took exception to a question from a journalist who said that "Desperate Housewives" had suffered a "creative collapse" following its barn-burning first season. "I completely disagree that there was a creative collapse," he said. "I think that's overstating it."

However, the executive noted that the show's creator, Marc Cherry, was back running the show full time, taking over from Tom Spezialy, who had taken the series in a more soapy direction over the last season. McPherson said that all the new scripts "were going through Marc's typewriter. I think it's going to be great." He added that Cherry was engrossed in crafting story arcs for the next season and promised that the show would return to a more wickedly humorous sensibility.

Though the network has several solid hits, such as "Lost" and "Grey's Anatomy," it is launching 10 new series this fall, which some critics said was unwieldy.

"It is an aggressive schedule," McPherson said. "We're rebuilding, and we've got a lot of work to do .... It's not the best scenario."

One key move is splitting up the "Lost" season. To appease viewers who had complained about the numerous repeats during last season, he said, six episodes would air in October; the series would then go on hiatus for 13 weeks until the spring, when it would return with new episodes. He said the strategy was also determined by the show's production schedule.

McPherson chuckled when told of CBS Entertainment President Nina Tassler's claim that the top-rated "CSI: Crime Scene Investigation" would be a Thursday night underdog against the new competition moving into that time slot: ABC's "Grey's Anatomy." He called the statement "a rope-a-dope. They are the champions of that night."

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