ABC President Stephen McPherson Abruptly Resigns

President of ABC Entertainment, Stephen McPherson, announced his resignation from the network yesterday. With his contract set to expire in September 2011, the resignation comes at a surprising time, with only two months until the fall TV season begins and six days until the ABC executives are set to tout the networks newest shows to TV critics in Beverly Hills.

The resignation comes, the Los Angeles Times reports, because of “repeated clashes with his bosses,” such as Anne Sweeney, the president of the Disney ABC Television Group. These clashes were said to have reached a climax recently for the executive of the somewhat struggling company. About his plans for the future, McPherson says:

“I will be announcing my future plans shortly which will include a new entrepreneurial venture in the spirits business. While I will continue with my ongoing wine business, I’ll also reveal plans for my involvement in a new media company.”

Expected to succeed McPherson in his position is Paul Lee, president of the ABC Family cable channel, who is responsible for such hits as “The Secret Life of the American Teenager” and the new show “Pretty Little Liars.” This would be the second time this year that Disney has moved an executive from its more successful cable division to head a larger, struggling division of the company, with former Disney Channels Worldwide President Rich Ross taking control of Walt Disney Studios last fall.

As president of the company since 2004, McPherson played a key role in ABC’s turn-around in 2004, leading the network to a string of hit shows such as “Desperate Housewives,” “Grey’s Anatomy,” “Dancing with the Stars,” and “Lost.” However, ratings have declined for the network recently, despite its newest hit show “Modern Family.”

“I’m just shocked. We’ve had a really good run with Steve. It would send the network into upheaval, which is always scary for everyone,” said Eileen Heisler, co-creator of “The Middle,” a first-year sitcom that ABC is bringing back for a second season. “There is lots of upheaval that goes on at the network level, you just keep trying to make the best show you can.”


5 responses to “ABC President Stephen McPherson Abruptly Resigns

  • After the drop in viewers LOST delivered after the 3rd season, the ending, the dismal “Flash Forward” and barely tolerable “V”, McPherson should end up on a mysterious island pushing a frozen donkey wheel while a undefinable monster and an enigmatic island protector swigging wine from a bottle play backgammon for all eternity. Eithher that or watch “Big Brother” forever.

  • Marshall,

    I have your antipathy for Big Brother etc, but you have to admit it’s a pretty short leash for the same guy who brought you “Desperate Housewives,” “Grey’s Anatomy,” “Dancing with the Stars” and “Lost.”

    He was at least in the building during those successes.

  • Many people forget that Lloyd Braun was really responsible for Lost, Desperate Housewives. It was McPherson that almost pulled the plug on Lost because of the 10 million 2 hour pilot cost, it was Lloyd Braun that pushed forward, Braun was let go and McPherson took over and fell into 3 hits in one season. Since then he really hasn’t has a hit, except for Modern Family, but many misses, this season alone The Forgotten, Eastwick, Hank. Maybe now ABC can go in a different direction.

  • LSB:

    At a bare minimum do you think he deserves any credit for not messing up the set-up he inherited? That being said, ABC’s fortunes look less than ideal at the moment, so I’m not sure what kind of grade we should give McPherson.

  • He is an excellent programmer, he took Grey’s Anatomy from Sunday night and put it opposite the number one show in broadcast TV CSI and it was the right move Grey’s won the timeslot, Brothers & Sisters was his baby that was a hit. As a grade I would have to give him a C not great, but, not a disaster either. I wish he would have chosen more shows from Disney’s ABC Studios and a whole lot less from other studios. Disney is synonymous with synergy, all divisions working together. It seems it wasn’t working that way with ABC and Disney.

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