“The reorganization has given me the space to really focus on creative matters, as the excellence of our programming continues to drive our business forward,” he told Variety ahead of Disney’s big upfronts presentation Tuesday afternoon.
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Now that Erwich is shepherding two networks, one headquartered in Santa Monica (Hulu) and the other located in Burbank (ABC), it’s not clear how he’ll be divvying up his time once staffers begin to file back into physical offices after the pandemic.
“We haven’t really made decisions around return to work yet,” he said. “I will tell you [that] I’m really, really, really proud of the teams and the way they came together as we worked from home. I thought the level of focus, the kind of dedication, the innovation was really unparalleled. And I think people could have shied away from this, but really they came together. And it was ultimately very galvanizing. And I think we have some best practices that we’re going to incorporate into our workflow going forward.”
As for ABC’s upcoming fall TV lineup, Erwich is bullish. One of its two new series for the fall, “Queens,” has prime placement after “The Bachelorette” on Tuesday nights, and the drama series’ story of female friendship feels “right at home on ABC,” he said, highlighting the network’s popularity with women ages 18 to 34.
“The unique setting of ‘Queens,’ the once-in-a-lifetime combination of Eve and Brandy is going to be something that people are going to be talking about,” he said.
Was he aware of “Girls5Eva,” Peacock’s well-received, recently released show with a similar conceit — albeit a comedy — of a former ’90s musical group that reunites when its members are in their 40s?
“That does not enter into our calculus in the same way that, when we greenlight additional seasons of ‘The Good Doctor’ or ‘Grey’s Anatomy,’ we don’t walk around and say ‘There’s other medical shows on the air,'” said Erwich. “We just say, ‘Is this the best medical show?’ And I think ‘Queens’ is the best version of itself, and ultimately, it’s really about kind of the underlying themes and characters versus just the concept in and of itself.”
“The Wonder Years” reboot, ABC’s other new show for the fall, is a series Erwich is “extraordinarily proud of.”
“You don’t take it for granted, when you bring something like that back. Given its place in our culture, and how revered it was and continues to be, you can only do that if you have the best of the best,” he said. “And between Lee Daniels, Saladin K. Patterson and Fred Savage, we knew we had a group of people who were dedicated to not just honoring it, but moving it forward.”
Separately, now that “Black-ish” is coming to an end, Erwich says there’s an effort to “event-ize” the final season of Kenya Barris’ hit show, which will debut mid-season for an uninterrupted sendoff.
“We felt by putting it at mid-season, it would give us more continuous runs, more episodes, that the concentration of those episodes would really give us something tangible to event-ize, and to honor,” said Erwich. “The show deserves to be platformed and have a spotlight put on it, given its contributions to our culture and to our company.”
When asked if there was potential to move canceled ABC series such as “American Housewife” or “Rebel” to Hulu, Erwich said that he is always “open to consideration” but added, “Often if audiences are not materializing on ABC, it’s often not materializing elsewhere. And we take a fairly holistic view of shows, as we consider their futures, regardless whether it’s at ABC or at Hulu.”
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