ABC President Paul Lee Talks ‘S.H.I.E.L.D.’

During his executive session for the Television Critics Association, ABC Entertainment President Paul Lee spoke about the upcoming “S.H.I.E.L.D.” pilot. After his executive panel, we approached Lee for some follow-up questions. First, though the show has not been ordered to series officially, Joss Whedon is already writing beyond the pilot and ABC is coordinating his schedule with Marvel movies.

“He’s already working on the scripts for the series,” said Lee. “We will have to work. We shot it in Los Angeles to make sure that he is free to work across his feature life and his television life, but I love to see Joss who of course has made many great television shows in his day, enjoying television as much as movies. That’s flattering for us. We love that.”

We can assume the budget for a S.H.I.E.L.D. show will be high, but Lee is thinking long term economics. “On the one hand, we have to make shows that can sustain for many, many years and we’d love to see ‘S.H.I.E.L.D.’ go not just from pilot but to series, and not just from series but to last a long time. We’re a long way from that. We’d love to do that and we’re able to be much more ambitious on television because of the technology available. At the same time, look, we are ambitious with the show and we’re certainly investing to the levels of ‘Once Upon a Time’ and that’s an ambitious show.”

Lee is very excited about the synergy between Marvel film and television. “First of all, how wonderful is it, my boss Bob Iger buys Marvel and they have created the biggest franchise of the year with The Avengers,” related Lee. “How wonderful is it for ABC to be able to use the core talent from that and not just use the Marvel brand but the Avengers franchise for a show that is not exactly about The Avengers but is attached to it. For us to have Joss Whedon not only in the show, but passionate about the show, directing and writing the pilot, and he’s very engaged with the series if we go to series.”

During the panel, Lee said "S.H.I.E.L.D.” will be the first pilot he looks at for the fall. “We haven’t seen the pilot. We fast tracked that before the others. We’re going to see it before the others. We’re very hopeful that goes to series and we’re going to market it. We hope it will get both males and females. By the way, the script’s great. I don’t want to jinx it.”

From Lee’s description, it sounds like classic Whedon. “The truth about Joss is he has some great relationships in it so there are a lot of really funny male/female relationships that go through it,” Lee said. “But it’s also Joss too and there’s a lot of action. Look, what we do do, I talk about the emotion of the network, that it’s smart with heart. There is something which I talk less about, that’s very real about this network, is we have more co-viewed shows. Absolutely Marvel has the ability to bring the whole family around it.”