Stephen McPherson


Just got back from a chat session with ABC's big cheese Steve McPherson, where we dug into today's fall schedule announcement, what lies ahead for some of our favorite shows and stars—and why he didn't bring back two fan favorites.

Here's what we learned:

Scrubs: Sarah Chalke

Mitchell Haaseth/NBC

Scrubs Is Moving to ABC (Duh):  In the reveal of what is perhaps the worst-kept secret in the Industry, McPherson announced that ABC will air 18 episodes of Scrubs this fall. "Given the fact that it's been moved 17 times and still doing better than any other NBC comedy on Thursday than The Office...We think it's really a great addition for us." Holler.

Ted on How I Met Your Mother Is Screwed:  McPherson confirms that Sarah Chalke is most definitely back on Scrubs for the new season on ABC. Full-time. Stelllllaaaa! If she is the mother, Ted's gonna have to wait.

Men in Trees and October Road Are Gone:  On behalf of all you heartbroken fans (I feel your pain), I asked McPherson if this call was made purely from a ratings standpoint. "It was, yeah," he replied. "It was a really hard decision. I think both shows were incredibly well done and we have a fantastic relationship with (Men in Trees creator) Jenny Bicks. We're hoping to do some great things with her. But even when we gave it a pretty decent run on Thursday, I would have loved to see it pop."

As for October Road"It was like the little engine that could. It was a pilot that was picked up late and the series was picked up late. It was a terrific show—it just had a very, very small but dedicated core audience. [Road producers] [Josh] Applebaum] and [Andre] Nemick and [Scott] Rosenberg are going to work on our new drama Life on Mars and have some great ideas about this version. So we love the people, but it's just unfortunate that we couldn't find the kind of audience that would make it worth keeping."

McPherson Calls the New Fall Schedule "Incredibly Stable":  With only one new drama and two new unscripted series, there isn't much change at all. Still, he adds that there are 17 pilots still in development for midseason, so clearly, thanks to the strike, there wasn't a lot of grooming time this year.

Life on Mars Looks Pretty Awesome:  Cherry-picked as the only new scripted series coming to ABC this fall, this British import about a cop who gets sent back to 1973 actually looks pretty engaging. (They showed a clip.) Jason O'Mara (most recently McDreamy and Meredith's latest brain-tumor patient on Grey's) stars and the series is produced by David E. Kelley and the brain trust behind October Road (Applebaum and friends). It will air after Grey's on Thursday nights at 10.

Also Coming to ABC:  Opportunity Knocks, a game show from Ashton Kutcher that McPherson describes as "Extreme Home Makeover meets Millionaire" (the show comes to your house with a truckload of prizes and asks you to answer trivia about your own family and community) and an untitled Ashton Kutcher-Tyra Banks reality show, which is "a beauty pageant like you haven't seen before" that McPherson says "we are keeping under wraps for now at their request."

Ugly Betty

Karen Neal/ABC

Ugly Betty Is Most Definitely Moving to NYC:  Says McPherson, "The pilot was shot in New York. The show is based in New York. And the studio made the decision that given the current climate in New York, it made a lot of sense to move it back. We're excited from a production standpoint to have that real New York quality, because as much as people try to cheat New York, it's really hard to do so. So I think it's sort of funny that people are taking issue with the fact that it's cheaper to do a show in New York about New York." McPherson also says all castmembers will be on board, but that Rebecca Romijn has "left the show." When asked why, he says Rebecca's run was always supposed to be a limited engagement and now that run is over. (Something tells me that's news to Rebecca.)

Ugly Betty Is Getting Back to Betty:  "Silvio [Horta] is very smart to do what he's doing. I think that on Ugly Betty, there was sort of a flight of fancy that was going on there and it was funny, but I think it got away from the core that really is the heart of the show. And some of the episodes at the end of this year have gotten back to that." Also, LiLo will be back. "[Lindsay Lohan] is going to do more episodes next year. I don't know that the New York move will affect that, but she is doing more than one episode next season."

Is Edie Gone from Desperate Housewives?  When asked if Nicollette Sheridan will return, McPherson initially gives a firm "Yes." When pressed for clarification, given that Marc Cherry was just quoted as saying that's the last we're gonna see of her for years, McPherson just smiles and says "Maybe." Hmmm...

Pushing Daisies Love:  My beloved Pushing Daisies, which will back next season in its old time slot, is still all about the love. The ABC new-season video they showed us featured Lee Pace saying, "I've fallen in love with Anna Friel," and how that's a good thing because they can't touch on the series so they really have to sell the love through their eyes. Awww...

Ellen Pompeo, Grey's Anatomy


Grey's Anatomy Is Planning Something Big:  "Grey's has got a big idea for next year that Shonda's getting ready to launch on people," says McPherson, but wouldn't go into further detail (shocker). "But the other shows we feel like are firing on really good waves, so there's no big kind of shift." (Read into that transition what you will.)

Why Eli Stone Got the Pickup (Hurrah!):  "In comparison to the big shows we have it's not particularly expensive," McPherson explains. "And we just felt like it had a very tough launch amid the strike without our original programming to really launch it. And creatively we felt like it grew from the beginning to the end of the first 13, so we really feel like it's got a big up side...We also think we have a better lead-in for it with Dancing With the Stars." As for the big twist in the 13th ep, McPherson says: "That was always Greg Berlanti's design of where it would go."

Lost Time Slot for Midseason? TBD, according to McPherson. "At this point, we still like this 10 p.m. on Thursday, and we could move Life on Mars at that point. But it's also been a great 9 p.m. performer and 8 p.m. performer, so I think quite honestly we have to see how the fall plays out."

Questions? Rants? Raves? Post them below...

—Additional reporting by Jennifer Godwin

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