Channing Dungey is changing the face of prime time TV

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Sandy Kenyon talked with Channing Dungee, president of ABC Entertainment, about upcoming shows

Channing Dungey will mark her second anniversary as president of ABC Entertainment in February, a job that is a lot tougher than it was a generation ago.

Viewers have so many choices of what to watch, including streaming networks that spend billions of dollars each year on original content. I joined her in LA at the winter meeting of the Television Critics Association.

The first glimpse I got of her was standing next to the judges of the new ABC version of "American Idol" -- Lionel Ritchie, Katy Perry, and Luke Bryan. Orchestrating the return of that show is just one more indication that Dungey has made her mark, and a big hit this season, "The Good Doctor," proves she is meeting the challenge of what's been called "Peak TV." It is an era when the competition for the attention of viewers has never been so intense.

"For me, it's always going to be about great storytelling," she said.

The boss stepped up to the job after helping to launch shows like "Scandal" and "How To Get Away With Murder," both produced by Shonda Rhimes. The new series Dungey has commissioned, like Shondaland's "For The People" set here in the city, continue a trend which has brought new diversity to prime time.

"Whether that is economic diversity, racial diversity or religious diversity, so you see elements of that running through these shows," she said.

The original cast of "Roseanne" reunites this spring.

"We're really interested in looking at a family that is not kind of well-to-do and upper middle class, as so many of our comedies seem to be," she said. "So it's going to be a significant opportunity to explore and talk about people in this country who feel they've been forgotten."

Ever since the days of the original "Roseanne," ABC has been home to plenty of family comedies. But now, the head of the network is looking to push the boundaries of what's possible in the genre.

One case in point is "Splitting Up Together," about a couple with kids who are separated and still living on the same property.

"We're going to extend and redefine what the family comedy means," Dungey said.

The mid-season shows will premiere after the Oscars on March 4.
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