ABC Boss Talks Once Upon a Time's Fate, 'Cheeky' Bachelor in Paradise Promo, S.H.I.E.L.D. Status and More

Once Upon a Time Season 7

In success, Once Upon a Time‘s upcoming “reset” narrative could “absolutely” be renewed, network chief Channing Dungey said on Sunday at the Television Critics Association summer press tour.

“A lot of it is going to depend on how these new characters and this new storyline resonates,” she added, describing series creators’ Adam Horowitz and Eddy Kitsis’ plans as “really spectacular.” “If it does, we have the opportunity to tell multiple years with these new characters. And if not, we’ll talk about how we wind [the series] down” a la Lost.

Defending the decision to move Once (which last season averaged 3.2 million total viewers and a 0.9 demo rating) as well as Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. (2.3 mil/0.7) to Friday nights, Dungey explained, “Both have been very stable performers us,” namely by enjoying significant growth in DVR playback, as well as “very important shows” on the international sales front.

Other topics covered by Dungey during her semi-annual TCA appearance:

• Addressing the backlash ABC felt when a Bachelor in Paradise promo was seen to be capitalizing on the production shutdown precipitated by since-dismissed claims of sexual assault, Dungey said, “We were never looking for a way to sensationalize it,” noting that “the promo in question did not refer to the incident at all.” Instead, the promo was intended as “cheeky and funny,” and once it became clear it wasn’t being received that way, “we pulled it.”

• Regarding ABC’s decision to revive American Idol so soon after its Fox sendoff, Dungey argued, “Fans have been clamoring [for its return] since the day it went away.” As for what the “new” version will look like, even with Ryan Seacrest returning as host, “This is going to be ABC’s version, we look forward to putting our own stamp on it.”

• Dungey confirmed that Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. will return as soon as Marvel’s Inhumans wraps its eight-episode debut, and with “little interruption” in its 22-episode run. “Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. has continued to grow creatively every season,” she said. “And I’m very excited for what we have planned for Season 5.”

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