ABC chief on 'Work It' harming transgender community: 'I don't get it'

Paul-Lee

Image Credit: Bob D'Amico/ABC

Sorry, GLAAD — ABC Entertainment topper Paul Lee doesn’t get why you have issues with Work It.

While talking to reporters at the annual Television Critics Tour in Pasadena today, Lee said he was stumped by a campaign from the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) and the Human Rights Campaign that accuses the cross dressing comedy of being harmful to transgenders. “I didn’t really get it,” he said. “I loved Tootsie. I still love Tootsie. I didn’t get it. But that’s probably me.”

But he clearly realizes the polarizing show remains a hot topic — which is why he began his morning panel with his idea of a joke: “So what do you think of Work It?” The Brit was loath to say exactly how he feels about the comedy’s (dreadful) performance so far, other than to stick to his original mantra about developing “ambitious” shows. “We thought there was room for a very very very silly show.”But apparently, there isn’t room for another light comedy, Cougar Town. ABC’s still not ready to announce a start date.

Beyond saying it’ll come back in March, Lee said he’s yet to pick an exact date when the Courteney Cox comedy will make it to air. But he did have fond things to say about creator Bill Lawrence and his personally-financed marketing campaign to keep fans interested. “I used to be a pirate when I was a showrunner, and I’m now kind of the navy. He does a pirate job of getting his audience excited … We didn’t have a place earlier on.”

He also downplayed any potential troubles the network may have in marketing shows that imply the word “bitch” in the title but don’t actually use it. (See: Don’t Trust the B in Apt. 23 and Good Christian Belles, previously known as Good Christian Bitches.) But he’s not interested in changing them. “We think it reflected the irreverence of the show, but we can’t use [bitch] in broadcast titles. What I’m hoping for is that it piques people’s interest. I would love people to go, there’s something edgy here.”

Here are some other highlights from Lee’s appearance at TCA:

Pan Am is not dead — at least according to Lee. “When it opened, it really brought an audience. There’s such a feeling of goodwill toward that show. We have new and original shows right through February.

Private Practice will move to Tuesdays at 10 to make way for the debut of Shonda Rhimes’ latest drama Scandal on April 5. PP will air after Dancing With the Stars results show.

His final verdict on Charlie’s Angels? “They didn’t quite breathe life into that franchise. It was a really strong attempt.”

Sadly for soap fans, Lee had no update on the future of General Hospital. There are worries the sudser is next on the chopping block, given the cancellations of All My Children and One Life to Live. “I don’t know when we’ll make a decision on that. We’ll see. We’ll make a decision at some point. I just don’t know when.”

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