List of presidents of ABC Entertainment

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The following is a list of presidents of the entertainment division for the American Broadcasting Company (ABC). Prior to the mid 1970s, the role was essentially filled under the title Vice presidents of Programs.

Name Years Notes
James T. Aubrey March 1957 – April 28, 1958 As vice president in charge of programs (a title he gained before March 1957), he brought to the air what he recalled as "wild, sexy, lively stuff, things that had never been done before," shows such as Maverick, a western with James Garner, and 77 Sunset Strip, a detective show with Efrem Zimbalist Jr. (However, by the time Strip went on the air in October 1958, Aubrey had already left the network.) Oulahan and Lambert said Aubrey scheduled "one lucrative show after another ... and for the first time the third network became a serious challenge to NBC and CBS." Among the successes he scheduled were The Donna Reed Show, a domestic comedy; The Rifleman, a western with Chuck Connors; and The Real McCoys, a rural comedy with Walter Brennan and Richard Crenna.
Thomas W. Moore 1956–1957 Among the shows aired during this time were The Real McCoys, 77 Sunset Strip, My Three Sons, The Flintstones, Ben Casey, and The Untouchables. While he was network president, the network added, among other shows, McHale's Navy, Peyton Place, The Addams Family and Batman.
Edgar Scherick June 1963–1966 In June 1963, Scherick became Vice President of Programming for the ABC Television Network, where he created many popular shows including Bewitched, Batman, That Girl, The Hollywood Palace, and Peyton Place.
Leonard Goldberg 1966–1969
Martin Starger 1969–1972; 1972–1975 He led ABC during its boom period in the 1970s, pioneering the creation of television shows such as ABC Movie of the Week, Marcus Welby, M.D. and Happy Days. He also pushed the limits of television broadcast presiding over pioneering miniseries and specials such as Roots and Rich Man, Poor Man.
Barry Diller 1973–1974 He was hired as an assistant by Elton Rule, then west coast head of ABC, who was promoted to network President at the same time Diller went to work for him in 1964, taking him on to New York City. Diller was soon placed in charge of negotiating broadcast rights to feature films. He was promoted to Vice President of Development in 1965. In this position, Diller created the ABC Movie of the Week, pioneering the concept of the made-for-television movie through a regular series of 90-minute films produced exclusively for television.[1]
Fred Silverman 1975–1978 Silverman was named president of ABC Entertainment in 1975,[2] putting him in the awkward position of saving Happy Days, the very show that Good Times had brought to the brink of cancellation. Silverman succeeded in bringing Happy Days to the top of the ratings and generating a hit spin-off from that show, Laverne & Shirley. At ABC, Silverman also greenlit other popular series such as The Bionic Woman (a Six Million Dollar Man spin-off), Family, Charlie's Angels, Donny & Marie, Three's Company, Eight Is Enough, The Love Boat, Soap, Fantasy Island, Good Morning America, long form pioneer Rich Man, Poor Man and the award-winning miniseries, Roots. These moves brought ABC's long-dormant ratings from third place to first place. However, Silverman was criticized during this period for relying heavily on escapist fare (it was Silverman who conceived the infamous The Brady Bunch Hour with Sid and Marty Krofft in late 1976) and for bringing T&A or "jiggle TV" to the small screen with numerous ABC shows featuring buxom, attractive, and often scantily-clad young women (such as the popular Battle of the Network Stars). ABC Daytime had mediocre ratings, so in order to increase them, Silverman hired Gloria Monty to produce the ailing General Hospital. He gave Monty thirteen weeks to increase the serial's ratings or it would be cancelled. He later expanded General Hospital and One Life to Live to a full hour, and created a 3​12 hour afternoon serial block. Among game shows, Silverman introduced Goodson-Todman's Family Feud to the network. During Silverman's time at ABC, he overhauled the network's Saturday-morning cartoon output, dumping Filmation (which had produced the failed Uncle Croc's Block) and replacing it with content from Hanna-Barbera, including a continuation of Scooby-Doo. ABC abandoned the wiping of video-taped programs under Silverman's watch in 1978, as CBS had done while he was at that network.
Anthony Thomopoulos 1978–1983 His big break came in 1973, when Barry Diller hired him on at ABC to oversee prime-time programming. He was noted, among other things, for the tough position he took in dealing with the contract holdout of Suzanne Somers on the hit ABC show Three's Company,[3] and for his quick cancellation of the 1982 cult favorite Police Squad!, explaining that the show had been cancelled because, among other reasons, "it required constant attention".[4][5]
Lewis Erlicht 1983 – November 1985 After seeing Emmanuel Lewis in a Burger King commercial, ABC's programming chief, Lew Erlicht, wanted to give the actor his own series. At this time, Another Ballgame creator Stu Silver desired to develop an original show based on the lead characters portrayed by Katharine Hepburn and Spencer Tracy in the film Woman of the Year and saw Alex Karras and Susan Clark's on-screen chemistry as being strikingly reminiscent of this. The network felt the need to cast Lewis in a project quickly, before he grew another inch (like child actor Gary Coleman, who was also small for his age, Lewis would end up at 4'3".) With the number of comedy pilots ABC had greenlit for that fall's schedule, it was likely that Lewis would not be able to get his own series and timeslot unless he was worked into already-existing comedy projects. So, among others shows, co-producers on Another Ballgame were approached about working Lewis into the show. Stars Karras and Clark liked the idea of the sudden marriage and instant adoption of a young black boy, and the Webster character was thus created. Moonlighting was created by Glenn Gordon Caron, one of the producers of the similar Remington Steele, when he was approached by Erlicht. Erlicht liked the work Caron had done on Taxi and Remington Steele and wanted a detective show featuring a major star in a leading role who would appeal to an upscale audience. Caron wanted to do a romance, to which Erlicht replied "I don't care what it is, as long as it's a detective show.”
Brandon Stoddard 1985–1989 During his tenure as the head of ABC entertainment shows such as Roseanne, The Wonder Years and Thirtysomething were created.
Bob Iger 1989–1992
Ted Harbert 1992–1996 At ABC, Harbert was closely associated with groundbreaking programs such as The Wonder Years,[6]NYPD Blue,[7]The Practice,[8] and My So Called Life,[9][10] among many others, and, during his tenure, ABC moved to the top in primetime programs in 1995 for the first time in 17 years, and led all the networks in profits for several years.[11]
Jamie Tarses 1996–1999 Tarses was the first woman and one of the youngest people to hold such a post in an American broadcast network.[12] Tarses was the subject of a noteworthy "unflattering profile" written by Lynn Hirschberg in the New York Times Magazine in July 1997[13][14]
Stuart Bloomberg 1999 – January 2002
Susan M. Lyne January 2002 – May 2004
Lloyd Braun 2002 – November 2004 Braun was forced out of his position at ABC shortly after greenlighting the $13 million pilot to the television show Lost, one of the most expensive in modern broadcasting. His decision was vindicated, however, when the show went on to become a huge success. Braun and his partner, Susan Lyne, also greenlit other ABC shows that went on to great success in the years following his dismissal, including Desperate Housewives, Extreme Makeover Home Edition, Boston Legal and Grey's Anatomy. These shows began an unprecedented turnaround for ABC.[15]
Stephen McPherson 2004 – July 2010 With relatively little buzz surrounding its 2010–11 pilots, compounded by a sexual harassment lawsuit against him, Stephen McPherson resigned as ABC Entertainment Group president on July 27, 2010. Paul Lee (who previously served as the president of sister cable channel ABC Family) was announced as his replacement that same day.[16][17]
Paul Lee 2010 – February 2016
Channing Dungey 2016–present Dungey was hired as president on February 17, 2016, replacing Paul Lee.[18] Dungey oversaw the development of ABC Studio shows such as Scandal, Criminal Minds, How to Get Away with Murder, Nashville, Quantico, Army Wives and Once Upon A Time,[19] as well as the second cancellation of Roseanne on May 29, 2018.


  1. ^ Karol, Michael (June 2005). The ABC Movie of the Week Companion: A Loving Tribute to the Classic Series. iUniverse. p. XIX. ISBN 978-0-595-35836-6. Retrieved October 10, 2010.
  2. ^ Smith-Shomade, Beretta E. (January 10, 2013) "Watching While Black". Rutgers University Press, p. 21, 280 pages. Retrieved August 20, 2014.
  3. ^ Tom Shales, "Behind 'Three's Company,' Somers and Smoke", The Washington Post, May 12, 2003  – via HighBeam Research (subscription required).
  4. ^ Barbara Holsapple, "Do Viewers Need Help With 'Police Squad?', Pittsburgh Press, July 1, 1982.
  5. ^ Steve Weinstein, "Never Ready for Prime Time? : 'Doctor, Doctor' is the latest wild and crazy comedy to find the going tough on network TV", Los Angeles Times, March 4, 1990."
  6. ^ Heisler, Steve. "How Does The Wonder Years Hold Up?". August 8, 2012. Vulture. Retrieved March 21, 2013.
  7. ^ Tucker, Ken. "NYPD Blue Review". October 1, 1993. Retrieved March 21, 2013.
  8. ^ "The Practice". IMDb. Retrieved March 21, 2013.
  9. ^ Jensen, Jeff. "Life As We Knew It". September 10, 2004. Retrieved March 21, 2013.
  10. ^ Lippman, John. "ABC's Golden Boys". August 5, 1990. Retrieved March 21, 2013.
  11. ^ Carter, Bill. "The Other Shoe Drops: Executive Quits ABC". January 8, 1997. Retrieved March 21, 2013.
  12. ^ Carter, Bill (August 7, 1996). "At Lunch With: Jamie Tarses – A Soap Opera Ends: Let the Comedies Begin". The New York Times. Retrieved January 10, 2015.
  13. ^ Hirschberg, Lynn (July 13, 1997). "Network Drama at ABC: Jamie Tarses' Fall, as Scheduled". The New York Times. Retrieved January 10, 2015.
  14. ^ Bart, Peter (July 23, 1997). "More than meets the eye in Tarses-bashing". Variety. Retrieved January 10, 2015.
  15. ^ Craig, Olga (August 14, 2005). "The man who discovered 'Lost' – and found himself out of a job". The Daily Telegraph.
  16. ^ "ABC programming chief Stephen McPherson abruptly resigns; network was No. 3 last season". The Washington Examiner. Associated Press. July 27, 2010. Retrieved July 27, 2010.[dead link]
  17. ^ "ABC Family's Paul Lee Taking Over ABC Entertainment Group After President Steve McPherson Resigns". Deadline Hollywood. July 27, 2010. Archived from the original on August 9, 2010. Retrieved August 13, 2010.
  18. ^ Joe Otterson (February 17, 2016). "Channing Dungey Replaces Paul Lee as Head of ABC Entertainment". TheWrap. Retrieved February 17, 2016.
  19. ^ Nellie Andreeva (February 17, 2016). "ABC Shakeup: Paul Lee Out As President, Channing Dungey To Succeed Him – Deadline Hollywood". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved February 17, 2016.

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