ABC Network has named Channing Dungey as its newest entertainment president, replacing Paul Lee, who is officially resigning. The change is not only abrupt but also marks the first time an African American has held the position in the industry’s history.
The move has seemingly been in the works as tensions have mounted between Lee and Disney/ABC Television President Ben Sherwood. Sherwood took his current position last year, as Lee helped usher through some of ABC’s strongest and most diverse programming in years, including the entire Thursday night block, which features Shonda Rhimes-backed shows. Despite his many recent successes, Lee has struggled with keeping the network’s ratings as a whole competitive, a fact which is also being attributed to his replacement.
Dungey served as executive VP of drama at ABC prior to the promotion, which will see her reporting directly to Sherwood.
The Disney/ABC Television president had nothing but positive things to say about Dungey’s current and potential performance as the new head of ABC network programming decisions.
“Channing is a gifted leader and a proven magnet for top creative talent, with an impressive record of developing compelling, breakthrough programming that resonates with viewers,” said Sherwood. “We thank Paul for his many accomplishments at ABC and his devotion to the ABC brand, and we wish him continued success in the future.”
Lee first became president of entertainment back in 2010, after moving over from ABC Family.
It should come as no surprise that Dungey was Lee’s ultimate successor considering her longstanding relationship with the network as well as her involvement in some of its most successful programming. Dungey is credited with developing hit series Scandal, Quantico, How to Get Away with Murder, American Crime and Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Dungey has been involved with the network since 2009.
The new president of entertainment expressed excitement over her role in an official statement.
“I’m thrilled and humbled that Ben has entrusted me with this tremendous opportunity,” said Dungey. “And I am truly grateful to Paul for being a valued mentor and friend. I’ve had the great honor of working alongside the talented team at ABC for many years and look forward to starting this exciting new chapter with them.”