TCA Digest: ABC on Not Chasing Conan, Battling American Idol and Killing Off Hank

Twice a year, a Los Angeles-area hotel (this time, the Langham in Pasadena) fills 150 glass bowls with fruit-flavored Italian hard candies, schedules a week's worth of hot buffets and then waits for television critics to roll in from around the country for the semi-annual Television Critics Association Tour. The grueling schedule includes nearly 100 television panels and as much network-emblazoned swag as you can carry back to your room. So far, the festival's events have been overshadowed by the rumblings and change-ups at NBC, and today's ABC panels were no different. With Movieline's faithful foot soldier Louis Virtel manning the front lines, the team back at headquarters brings you the highlights and lowlights from today's panels, after the jump.

· ABC might be the only major network that does not want Conan O'Brien. ABC chief Steve McPherson (who is well-liked among critics for being the highest-ranking network executive that regularly appears at TCA events) announced that the network has not talked to to Conan and is instead focusing 100% on supporting Jimmy Kimmel.

· The Middle, Modern Family and Cougar Town have all been renewed for second seasons.

· Cougar Town and Scrubs creator Bill Lawrence quipped that his decision to extend Scrubs after its finale for another paycheck is "absolute proof that I've sold my soul to the devil" and that Jennifer Aniston will guest star on Cougar Town although "she's not aware of it yet."

· Although Modern Family is ecstatic about its freshman success, it is not too thrilled about going up against American Idol this winter, especially since Fox produces both shows.

· Ugly Betty fans seek solace in knowing that ABC loves the show and "wants to find a place for it."

· Lost news: Harold Perrineau and Cynthia Watros are returning this season. Josh Holloway joked that he is retiring after the series to focus on the convention circuit. Evangeline Lilly's favorite part of the season was Sangria Thursday.

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· Attention Better Off Ted viewers: time to get cracking on a new direction for your campaign because Steve McPherson seems to think that moving the show to Wednesday nights is not an option and continued: "I think we have obviously been disappointed with how that's performed...Whenever we put comedy on other than Wednesday, it's been an island and we haven't had a lot of success."

· For those ten Hank fans out in For Lauderdale, ABC attributes the show's failure not to its undeniable star power but its writing. McPherson explained, "Viewers are smart - they're not going to be sold something that just based on star value. They want a great show."



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