Lisa de Moraes
Lisa de Moraes
The TV Column

TV column: ABC cuts ‘Dancing With the Stars’ to one weeknight

NEW YORK — ABC has collapsed “Dancing With the Stars” to just one night a week — Monday — to give the show a “sense of occasion” and to make room for a “four-quadrant play” on Tuesdays, the network’s programming chief announced Tuesday.

You and I might call it “cutting their losses.”

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Pulitzer Prize winner, Peabody recipient, Medal of Freedom honoree -- Lisa de Moraes is none of these, but she is an authority on the bad direction, over-acting, and muddled plot lines being played out in the TV industry's executive suites.

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That new “four-quadrant” Tuesday includes four of ABC’s 13 new programs for next season. “Four-quadrant” is movie-industry-speak for content that appeals to men and women, as well as younger men and younger women. As opposed to “Dancing,” which appeals mostly to the old-viewer quadrant these days.

ABC Entertainment Group President Paul Lee declined to explain how ABC planned to mash together “Dancing’s” performance and results nights, telling reporters on a morning conference call that “Dancing’s” BBC producers had not yet “nailed it.”

ABC’s new Tuesday begins with Joss Whedon’s “Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.” superheroes drama; it’s based on the Marvel flicks — Marvel being a property of ABC-parent Disney.

A clip of “Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.” was shown to advertisers during ABC’s presentation at Lincoln Center. Imagine a trailer for every comic-book superhero movie you’ve ever seen.

“I wasn’t born, I was grown in a lab . . . and fed Marvel Comics and that turned out to be okay for me,” show creator Whedon told advertisers during the presentation. Advertisers applauded politely.

Whedon’s new show is followed by “The Goldbergs,” because Adam Goldberg, like so many writers in Hollywood, believes we never tire of watching shows about their childhood. It’s followed by “Trophy Wife,” in which Bradley Whitford picks a party girl to be his No. 3; Marcia Gay Harden was No. 1.

Wrapping up ABC’s Four Quadrant Tuesday: “Lucky 7,” about seven gas-station employees who buy a lottery ticket, hit the jackpot and mess up their lives. It would appear that TV viewers dream of winning the lottery and do not want to watch a show about how it messes up their lives — based on the previous series on this subject that have failed miserably, including NBC’s “Windfall,” which wound up being burned off in the summer of ’06.

“Lucky 7” is from Steven Spielberg, who went out of his way to make sure that the show felt — and the actors looked like — Middle America, Lee, who’s British, explained from New York.

On Wednesdays, “The Middle” and “Modern Family” are back in their regular time periods; hammocked in between: “Back in the Game,” in which James Caan plays the beer-guzzling loutish, ex-athlete father of a recently divorced single mom, who moves home with her son, who doesn’t make the Little League team.

“Super Fun Night,” in which Rebel Wilson plays a junior lawyer who, for 13 years, has gone out with her BFFs, is getting the super-cushy post-“Modern Family” time slot.

“Don’t worry, I don’t be doing a Lena Dunham,” Wilson promised advertisers. “I’ll only be putting my boobs out if it’s necessary for a story line — or it’s Wednesday.” After which Lee, onstage, wondered why his ancestors put her ancestors in prison. She’s Australian.

ABC’s “Once Upon a Time” spinoff — “Once Upon a Time in Wonderland” — kicks off Thursday nights in the fall. In this update of the Lewis Carroll classic, two guys (okay, one’s the White Rabbit) save Alice from “a doomed fate” in which doctors want to “cure” her of her dreams of hookah-smoking caterpillars, fading cats and the handsome genie she’d fallen in love with while down the rabbit hole and thought she’d lost forever — which Carroll forgot to mention in the book.

The addition of this new drama, about Alice and her demon lover, to a lineup that also includes soaps “Grey’s Anatomy” and “Scandal,” makes for a “powerful night of empowered women,” Lee told reporters on that phone conference call.

“Well, thank heaven for one good laugh today!” we replied, in our head.

“The Neighbors” survived for another season, but the comedy moves to Friday nights — wedded to “Last Man Standing.”

On Sunday nights, the new “Betrayal” caps a night that starts with utility player “America’s Funniest Home Videos,” followed by “Once Upon a Time” and “Revenge.”

“Betrayal,” as the name suggests, is a drama about female empowerment. Or at least it’s about a married chick photographer who has an affair with a lawyer, who winds up on the opposite side of a murder trial with her prosecutor husband, which makes her so unhappy she drops an expensive bottle of red wine, which pools on her expensive kitchen’s expensive floor.

And the comedy “Suburgatory” survived the purge, but it is on the bench for midseason, Lee announced. Other midseason contenders include:

l  “Resurrection,” about people whose deceased loved ones suddenly start to return.

l  “Mind Games,” starring Steve Zahn as a bipolar human-behavior expert and Christian Slater as a con man.

l  “The Quest,” a reality competition series.

l  “Killer Women,” about the only female member of the Texas Rangers.

l  “Mixology,” a sort of “24” in a bar. The whole season takes place one night in a bar and viewers don’t figure out until the end of the season who goes home with whom. Ryan Seacrest is among its exec producers.

“The reason we’re here is because you are about to invest billions of dollars in a network that rolled a 400-pound comedian off a diving board last week,” ABC late-night star Jimmy Kimmel told the packed hall of advertisers during the network’s presentation.

“You have a difficult job this week. You have to somehow figure out which, if any, of these new shows is going to be successful, which is something we can’t figure out, and we made them. But the thing that’s important to remember is that last year NBC made a show starring a monkey and a lot of you bought advertising on it.”

To read previous columns by Lisa de Moraes, go to washingtonpost.com/
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