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So, When Will ABC Admit Paul Lee Is McPherson’s Replacement?

Apparently a done deal, it may not be announced until after ABC’s appearance on Sunday at the Television Critics Association press tour

Most everyone agrees it's "a done deal" that ABC Family President Paul Lee will succeed departed Steve McPherson as President of ABC Entertainment and as head of ABC Studios. So why is ABC or parent company Disney not making the announcement?

And will the company address the reports about a sexual -harassment investigation swirling around McPherson?

As for the latter, it's not likely anything will be said, beyond McPherson's lawyer's statement Wednesday: "It is not uncommon for high level executives to be the subject of gossip and innuendo. That would includes rumors of internal situations which can easily be misinterpreted or misrepresented."

Certainly, however, that subject will come up at the Television Critics Association summer press tour, where ABC will be appearing all day this Sunday.

As for Lee, some individuals at ABC are saying there's no rush to announce his appointment since the fall schedule is already in place. Others say he may be still mulling over the terms of his new contract before signing on the dotted line.

But the real reason could be that Disney and ABC officials do not want to throw Lee into the "belly of the beast" by sending him to the press tour.

And Lee himself could be thinking along the same lines. If he has not yet taken the job officially, he can skip TCA and start his job afterwards in the safe confines of his new ABC office in Burbank and his assistants can keep the reporters away. They won't be able to shield him at TCA.

Makes sense.

If Lee is announced before Sunday, it would be very strange not to have him take the stage Sunday morning for the scheduled ABC Entertainment president's remarks and questioning by reporters.

And if he were to attend, he would be asked questions in areas that he is in no way prepared to answer: Questions about McPherson and questions about McPherson's primetime schedule and reported behavior.

Right now, it appears that ABC is leaning toward just eliminating the one hour scheduled for the Entertainment President's talk.

The network could, of course, put Jeff Bader, ABC's executive VP of planning, scheduling & distribution, a long-time network executive, who clearly worked with McPherson to put the fall schedule together, on stage. But that wouldn't be fair to him. Although Bader will be at TCA and no doubt be swarmed by reporter questions in the hallways of the Beverly Hilton.

Anne Sweeney, co-chair, Disney Media Networks, and president, Disney/ABC Television, and McPherson's former boss, could take the stage. Not likely either since in recent years she had an icy relationship with McPherson and couldn't be expected to talk about his programs and development.

And really, the whole purpose of TCA's meetings are to talk about the scheduling and the shows.

So … unless Disney/ABC brass reads this and wants to make an announcement just to prove the reasoning of this article wrong, it is very likely that Paul Lee will be announced as the new president of ABC Entertainment and head of ABC Studios sometime after Sunday.
 

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