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THE CORNER OFFICE / MARTIN MILLER

He's pushing 'Daisies'

ABC's entertainment president is high on the network's 'stunning' new show and Emmy windfall.

September 12, 2007|Martin Miller | Times Staff Writer

ABC heads into the 59th Prime-Time Emmy Awards on Sunday leading the network pack in nominations with 70 -- though just barely; NBC logged in with 69. Still, it's good to finish atop the network heap especially with multiple nods in prestigious categories like outstanding drama ("Boston Legal" and "Grey's Anatomy") and comedy ("Ugly Betty"). We talked with ABC President of Entertainment Stephen McPherson about the upcoming television awards and the fall season ahead.

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ABC received more Emmy nominations than any other network. What was your reaction?

I was just happy for everybody. It's a strong testament to all their hard work. You know you hear about what people really like, you hear the buzz, and then it's really nice for these shows to get their acclaim.

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Any Emmy predictions?

In the drama category, I'd have to say "The Sopranos." It's their last season and it's a great drama.

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What about ABC shows? "Boston Legal" and "Grey's Anatomy" are up in the outstanding drama category as well as "Ugly Betty" for outstanding comedy.

I've been so surprised by lack of nominations and award oversights over the years, I've given up trying to handicap the race.

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You mentioned oversights. "Lost" and "Desperate Housewives" did not receive any nominations in the major categories (though both garnered six nods each overall).

There's a bias against them and I don't know why. One year they get the Emmy and the next year they don't get nominated. "Desperate" has never been given its proper notice. But you know, it is what it is. We think they're both great shows.

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What could Emmys do to make the awards process as fair as possible?

I guess you'd have to look at the methodology. How big is the sample, how the academy is made up, who actually votes. It's a very complicated process. There's always going to be some good and bad things going on there and I wouldn't pretend to have a great understanding of how their methodology works at this point and whether it could be more fair. That's really a matter for the academy.

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Are nominations just as important as awards now?

I really think being nominated seems to be almost as important as winning the actual award. The nominations are a better representation of the overall audience and their feelings about the show I think. But at the end of the day, we're not doing any of this for Emmys or the academy, we're doing it for the viewers.

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ABC is rolling out the most new shows this fall. How does the upcoming season look?

We're excited to get going. We're in a more stable place than in years past and it's nice to go into September with a lot of hits -- "Ugly Betty," "Grey's," "Lost" and "Dancing [With the Stars]." We have Sunday, Monday and Thursday working well. And we've got some great shows coming up where we really took some chances -- "Dirty, Sexy, Money" and "Pushing Daisies."

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"Pushing Daisies" already has made an impression with the critics.

My hats off to Bryan Fuller, who created the show. It's his vision from beginning to end. Barry Sonnenfeld brought a great touch to the premiere episode. It's a truly unique, interesting, touching procedural show with romance, intrigue and comedy to it. Visually, it's the most stunning show put on television in years. We've had a lot of success taking chances -- whether it was "Lost" or "Ugly Betty." "Pushing Daisies" is one of those shows that stands out in a crowded market. It's wonderful doing shows like this and not just trying to copy what's already working out there.

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martin.miller@latimes.com

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