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ABC's McPherson pressed by the press.

ABC's McPherson Divulges Lost News

A.J. Frutkin

JULY 25, 2007 -

The press got into a tussle with ABC Entertainment president Stephen McPherson. And the press won.

It all happened at the network’s executive session today, the last one being held at the TCA’s summer convention in Los Angeles. Several reporters apparently had learned that the producers of Lost were set to make a major announcement tomorrow at Comic-Con, a convention of comic book/fantasy devotees held annually in San Diego.

One journalist asked McPherson to divulge the contents of that announcement early. But McPherson declined to do so, after which, several reporters expressed a growing indignation at this slight, asking whether the 300 or so outlets present in the room were no longer of importance to the network.

Even as McPherson held off these queries, ABC publicists were working behind the scenes to assuage the press, ultimately contacting Lost executive producer Damon Lindelof, who OK’d leaking the announcement early (a PR exec whispered into McPherson’s ear).

So what was all the fuss about? Harold Perrineau, who played single dad Michael Dawson on the show’s first two seasons, was returning.

Take that, you withholding network executives!

In other news, McPherson said the network is disappointed with the performance of its summer reality shows. While expressing support for the surprisingly strong performance of the hidden camera/video-based series Just For Laughs, McPherson addressed the under-performance of the high-profile kids weight-loss show Shaq’s Big Challenge.

“I still really love that show,” McPherson said. “Maybe the subject matter is a little too serious and too consuming for people over the summer months. I don’t know. It would all be hindsight at this point. And I don’t want to second guess it. We thought it was a good show, we stood behind it. And I think it’s a great message. And I think the production team and Shaq did a great job. So, it’s just frustrating.”

McPherson also copped to making several missteps with the Geico ad-based comedy Cavemen, acknowledging that the network was perhaps too ambitious in the production of the pilot sent out to advertisers and journalists immediately following the upfronts last spring.

“We’ve recast one of the leads, and the pilot that you have seen will not be the pilot, because I just think it just goes way too far into the development of those characters, and kind of right into the frying pan,” McPherson said. “I think we made a mistake there, and tried to do too much. So we’re going to take it back, that episode, with some re-shoots, and obviously the recast, and it will probably be, you know, [I’m] guessing, episode 5 or 6 in the run. So we’re, in essence, shooting a new pilot.”

McPherson later went on to explain what the new pilot must accomplish. “We have to develop those characters, and the dynamics, to get a sense of who they are, and what’s in that world, so you’re not just diving right into relationships that you might not understand,” he said.

Cavemen premieres Tuesday, Oct. 2, at 8 p.m.


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