TV Upfront

ABC Upfronts Diary: What's Old Is New Again

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A first-term 'Mayor'
A first-term 'Mayor'  Credit: ABC

What's old was new again at ABC's upfront on Tuesday afternoon. A "Roseanne" reboot, the return of "American Idol," a live staging of classic sitcoms hosted by Jimmy Kimmel and a surprise performance from the "Backstreet Boys" made it hard to tell exactly what year it was inside Lincoln Center.

It was also an emotional afternoon, as ABC dedicated a portion of its presentation to saying goodbye to "Scandal," which will conclude next season, and singing the praises of late-night host Kimmel, who was absent from this year's dog and pony show (he is staying close to his newborn son who, as he revealed in a tearful monologue on his show last week, was born with a heart defect).

But Kimmel still managed to get some laughs with a letter he sent to ad buyers that Ben Sherwood, Disney-ABC TV Group president, read.

"As many of you know, I am boycotting the ABC upfront this year to protest the cancellation of 'Dr. Ken,'" the letter began. "Sorry I can't be there with you this year if you believe that you are exactly the kind of ad buyers we want… I promise to be there next year on the off chance network TV continues to exist."

Lea Michele, who is starring in what is perhaps ABC's most promising new show, "The Mayor," opened the presentation. In a mark of just how much has changed, it was just last year that "Quantico" star Priyanka Chopra headlined the alphabet network's hoopla. This year the drama, which was renewed for an abbreviated third season, was barely a blip in the presentation.

Apparently cookies are a thing this year: Fox handed out chocolate chip cookies on behalf of celebrity chef Gordon Ramsey Monday. Wendi McLendon-Covey, in character as "The Goldbergs'" Beverly, doled out cookies that have faces of her show children.

The most awkward moment of the afternoon went to the cast of "Roseanne." The original cast members, including Roseanne Barr, received a warm reception when they were rolled out onto the stage on the couch from the series. But their interaction lacked charisma.

In the way of reboots, ABC announced Katy Perry would be the lead judge on the new "American Idol," but not much else was revealed about the revival.

While "Scandal" is starting its farewell tour, Shonda Rhimes' presence on the network isn't diminishing by any means. A new legal drama, "From the People" from her production company Shondaland will air midseason. It's essentially "Grey's Anatomy" set in the courtroom.

Speaking of "Grey's," the medical drama is getting another spinoff (remember "Private Practice"?) This one will be set in a firehouse. Apparently, some things do change.

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