“Stories tell us who we are, what we believe in. They let us see ourselves in others. Stories let you go on that journey. They let you live in that house, sit around that dinner table and be a part of that family… And ABC is defined by distinctive storytelling—inclusive, empowering stories that are true to who we are and who we aspire to be,” ABC Entertainment President Channing Dungey said at the network’s Upfront presentation in New York City yesterday.
Dungey unveiled the network’s 2016-17 slate of programming, which includes returning comedy and drama favorites, nine new series and a variety of specials as well as the limited series event When We Rise, created by Oscar®-winning screenwriter Dustin Lance Black.
“We’ve created shows that are innovative, forward-thinking, and can engage our audience across all platforms. We’re expanding our signature brand of family comedies, adding to our slate of powerful, compelling dramas and creating buzzworthy nights throughout the week,” Dungey stated.
ABC’s fall primetime schedule includes new dramas Conviction, starring Hayley Atwell of Marvel’s Agent Carter; Designated Survivor, with Emmy® and Golden Globe® winner Kiefer Sutherland (24); and Notorious, which is inspired by the true-life stories of famed criminal defense attorney Mark Geragos and cable news producer Wendy Walker. Still Star-Crossed, a period drama from executive producer Shona Rhimes’ Shondaland, and Time After Time, based on the novel and movie of the same name, and created by executive producer/writer Kevin Williamson (Scream, Dawson’s Creek) will follow later in the season.
On the comedy side this fall, ABC will premiere American Housewife, which stars Katie Mixon (of Mike and Molly) as a confident, unapologetic wife and mother of three, raising her flawed family in the wealthy town of Westport, Connecticut, filled with “perfect” mommies and their “perfect” offspring; and Speechless, starring Minnie Driver as a mom on a mission who will do anything for her husband, Jimmy, and kids Ray, Dylan, and JJ, her eldest son with special needs. Coming mid-season are Downward Dog—based on the web series—which is about a struggling millennial, Nan (Emmy®-nominated Allison Tolman of Fargo), from the point of view of her lonely and philosophical dog, Martin; and the live-action/CGI hybrid Imaginary Mary, which stars Jenna Elfman (Dharma & Greg) as a fiercely independent career woman whose life is turned upside-down when she meets the love of her life—a divorced father with three kids. This triggers even more upheaval when the slightly unhinged imaginary friend she created as a child suddenly reappears to help her navigate the transition from single girl to a woman ready for a family.
Viewers can also look forward to Dirty Dancing, a three-hour filmed musical event that’s an adaptation of the beloved 1987 romantic drama and instant music classic; a new primetime special from David Blaine and a two-hour special that honors athlete, humanitarian and civil rights activist Muhammad Ali. The limited series event When We Rise chronicles the real-life personal and political struggles, setbacks and triumphs of a diverse family of LGBT men and women who helped pioneer one of the last legs of the U.S. Civil Rights movement from its turbulent infancy in the 20th century to the once unfathomable successes of today. When We Rise is written and created by Dustin Lance Black (Milk, Big Love); stars Guy Pearce, Mary-Louise Parker and Rachel Griffiths; and is executive produced by Black, Laurence Mark (Dreamgirls, Jerry Maguire), Bruce Cohen (American Beauty, Milk) and Gus Van Sant (Good Will Hunting, Milk).
“What used to be a one-way conversation has turned into a robust dialogue between storytellers and the audience. And it’s wonderful to be making TV at a time when we can all be a part of this artistic collaboration,” Dungey said.