You needn’t remind the head of ABC how much time effort was put into touting the return of Thursday’s #TGIT lineup, only to have that date pushed back a week by a Donald Trump pre-inauguration special.
“It was a very hard call. Believe me,” Channing Dungey, President of ABC Entertainment, shared with TVLine at the network’s Television Critics Association press tour soiree. “Nobody else has been waiting for it bigger than me.”
To recap: Grey’s Anatomy and How to Get Away With Murder were to resume their seasons on Thursday, Jan. 19, bookending the already delayed premiere of Scandal Season 6. But just last week, it was announced that the 20/20 special America’s First Family: The Trumps Go to Washington would instead air that night (at 10/9c, leading out of Grey’s and Scandal repeats), bumping #TGIT’s well-promoted return to Jan. 26.
Explaining the switch-up, Dungey said there had been “an ongoing conversation” with ABC News about possibly leading into Inauguration Day with a Thursday special. “Everyone is always jockeying for what is going to be the best story, the best opportunity,” she said.
At first, ABC News pitched a two-hour profile of the new First Family, but that was cut in half as ABC mulled keeping #TGIT’s return partially intact. “But then in conversations, we felt like it was better to move all of #TGIT to the following week, and have it come out at once,” she said.
Presented with the fact that ABC News aired no such similar pre-inauguration profile eight years ago, the night before President Barack Obama took office, Dungey conceded that coming off of the November 8 election, the country has faced a more “complicated and difficult” transition process.
“There’s a lot to be said,” she explained, “and [ABC] News is very anxious to be saying it.”