BEVERLY HILLS - Each of the major broadcast networks is battling viewer defection caused in part by TV program overload (there will be more than 40 new series this fall and next spring).
ABC's solution? Load on even more programs. The network already has the biggest crop of new series -- 13 -- but entertainment chief Paul Lee Sunday told TV writers here at the biannual TV press tour that even more are under development, as ABC makes a push into the so-called "short-run" world, where shows air for only about a dozen episodes.
"We have a number of limited series in development, and 'Revenge' and [new series] 'Betrayal' are also limited," he said. "We'll be doing more and more of those," he said.
There are reasons for "limited," and not just cost ones. They require less time commitment from viewers, which -- paradoxically -- means they should (and on cable, often do) spend more time with them. Short runs also eliminate the need for repeats of full-run (22 episodes) series like "Grey's Anatomy."
In fact, after "Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D." (screened here Sunday for critics), probably the most anticipated new series of the season for ABC is a short-run one: "Resurrection." It's based on the novel "The Returned," about people who come back from the dead, and coproduced by Brad Pitt. ABC said Sunday that the series will join the schedule March 9, replacing "Betrayal" (a thriller about infidelity and a murder trial, which will air only 13 episodes, too.)
A DIFFERENT SOUND. Rebel Wilson -- the Australian comedienne who blasted into pop culture with the aid of "Bridesmaids" -- will star in ABC's highest-profile new comedy of the fall, "Super Fun Night," made even higher profile by its Wednesday lead-in, "Modern Family." But Wilson will also affect an American accent in the show -- that's a bit of a surprise considering most fans would reasonably expect from Wilson that slightly singsong Aussie cadence she used to considerable effect in "Bridesmaids." She explained, "The concept of the show was three girls who had known each other since 13 or 14 years of age, so I thought I had to make the character American."
Meanwhile, Conan O'Brien -- who is producing the series -- was here to explain why he chose her to headline a series about three young women who "have a standing date every Friday night:" "She is vulnerable, fearless, one of the most likable performers I've seen in a long career."