By Zach Johnson
ABC, the season’s No. 1 entertainment network among adults 18-49 two years running, today showcased the new and returning shows for the upcoming fall season as part of the Television Critics Association’s summer press tour. The virtual press conferences included conversations with the casts and creative teams behind The Wonder Years, Queens, Big Sky, and Dancing with the Stars. ABC also hosted a panel with some of the stars and executive producers behind the comedy series The Conners, The Goldbergs, Home Economics, and The Wonder Years.
The Wonder Years
Following the highly anticipated debut of ABC’s reimagining of The Wonder Years, premiering Wednesday, September 22, at 8:30 p.m. ET/PT, the network’s comedy lineup will pay homage to the original series with a larger-than-life takeover as fan-favorite original series cast members are set to appear throughout the evening on Wednesday, October 13. The night of nostalgia will kick off with a guest appearance by Dan Lauria (Jack Arnold) on The Goldbergs, followed by a nod to the iconic theme song originally covered by Joe Cocker in the all-new The Wonder Years. Later that evening, Fred Savage (Kevin Arnold) will guest star on The Conners, and the night will conclude with a guest appearance by Danica McKellar (Winnie Cooper) on Home Economics.
The Wonder Years stars Don Cheadle, narrating the series as adult Dean Williams, Elisha “EJ” Williams as Dean Williams, Dulé Hill as Bill Williams, Saycon Sengbloh as Lillian Williams, Laura Kariuki as Kim Williams, Julian Lerner as Brad Hitman, Amari O’Neil as Cory Long, and Milan Ray as Keisa Clemmons. Lee Daniels, Saladin K. Patterson, Savage, and Marc Velez serve as executive producers. “We wanted to really take the opportunity to show a part of Black middle-class life that had not been seen before,” Patterson said. “Usually when you talk about the late ’60s, it’s talking about the struggle and the civil rights movement and things like that, that are very valid and a part of our story as well—but the perspective of the Black middle class during that time specifically was something that I know stood out to Lee and then stood out to me as well when we first started talking about doing a reimagining of the show.”
In true Big Sky fashion, last fall’s No. 1 new series returned with a surprise when fan-favorite John Carroll Lynch joined the panel to announce he would be returning for season two. Details on his return are under wraps, but stars Katheryn Winnick, Kylie Bunbury; new series regulars Janina Gavankar and Logan Marshall-Green; and showrunner Elwood Reid were there to preview plenty of what’s to come when the delightfully dark drama returns Thursday, September 30, at 10:01 p.m. ET/PT on ABC. When private detectives Cassie Dewell (Bunbury) and Jenny Hoyt (Winnick) reunite to investigate a car wreck outside of Helena, Montana, they discover the case may not be as straightforward as it seems. As they unravel the mystery of the accident, their worlds collide with a band of unsuspecting teens, a flirtatious face from Jenny’s past, and an outsider searching for answers.
Dancing with the Stars
As we previously reported, ABC announced Olympic gold medalist Suni Lee and pop star JoJo Siwa will compete in the upcoming 30th season of Dancing with the Stars! The remaining cast will be revealed Wednesday, September 8, on ABC’s Good Morning America. The milestone season premiere will air live on Monday, September 20, at 8 p.m. ET/PT. Judges Len Goodman, Carrie Ann Inaba, Bruno Tonioli, and Derek Hough will be back, as will host and executive producer Tyra Banks. And, for the first time in the critically acclaimed competition’s history, season 30 will feature a same-sex pairing between Siwa and a yet-to-be-revealed pro dancer. “It’s going to give so much [hope] to people out there—people of the LGBTQ community, people who feel just a little different,” Siwa said. “It’s going to give them a sense of happiness.”
Starring Eve, Naturi Naughton, Nadine Velazquez, and Brandy, Queens follows four women in their 40s who reunite for a chance to recapture their fame and regain the swagger they had in the ‘90s when they were legends in the hip-hop world. Queens debuts Tuesday, October 19, at 10:01 p.m. ET/PT on ABC. The series is created and executive produced by Zahir McGhee and features original music performed by the stars at the direction of executive music producer Swizz Beatz. “I absolutely love rap,” Brandy said. “I’ve always loved it. I’ve been a hip-hop head since the ’90s, and I’m just so happy to be able to rap and sing. It’s definitely different, because this rapping is really, really difficult—but it’s also so fun and so challenging.”
The Most Magical Story on Earth: 50 Years of Walt Disney World
In celebration of the 50th Anniversary of Walt Disney World Resort, ABC will present a spectacular television event, The Most Magical Story on Earth: 50 Years of Walt Disney World, on Friday, October 1, at 8 p.m. ET/PT, taking viewers on a historical journey spanning half a century and beyond at Walt Disney World in Florida. Hosted by Disney Legend Whoopi Goldberg, the two-hour program will feature spectacular visuals and musical performances from Disney Legend Christina Aguilera and Halle Bailey in front of Cinderella Castle at Magic Kingdom Park, accompanied by the renowned Orlando Philharmonic Orchestra. In addition, celebrities Anthony Anderson, John Stamos, Marsai Martin, Melissa Joan Hart, Candace Cameron Bure, and Gary Sinise; NFL players Tom Brady, Phil Simms, and Doug Williams; creative forces Kevin Feige, Pete Docter, and James Cameron; Walt Disney World Imagineers Bob Weis, Mark Kohl, and Ann Morrow Johnson; and Disney executives past and present will all share their favorite memories of Walt Disney World, the unparalleled family destination.
ABC’s No. 1 comedy last season will return with more laughs, surprise guests, a live episode, and a chance for viewers to win a virtual appearance as a member of the Conner family in the season four premiere when The Conners returns Wednesday, September 22, at 9 p.m. ET/PT. The Conners cast—which includes Disney Legend John Goodman, Laurie Metcalf, Sara Gilbert, Lecy Goranson, Michael Fishman, Emma Kenney, Ames McNamara, Jayden Rey, and Jay R. Ferguson—will perform live for the East and West Coast broadcasts of the premiere episode.
The stars of The Conners are no strangers to live television—but this time, they’ll need some extra help to pull it off. Beginning today, ABC and The Conners are launching the “You Can Be a Conner” sweepstakes, offering viewers the opportunity for a once-in-a-lifetime experience by entering for the chance to win a virtual appearance during the live season premiere episode. As part of the storyline, a Conner family member will call each lucky sweepstakes winner for a live conversation regarding how they deal with some of the same life issues that the Conners navigate on a daily basis. The sweepstakes is open to legal U.S. residents, 18 and older. No purchase is necessary to enter; visit www.BeAConner.com for the official rules and full details. “It’s never been done before,” executive producer Bruce Helford said. “We won’t know what they are calling about or what they are going to say. It’s going to be pretty special.”
Judge Steve Harvey (Working Title)
Steve Harvey is the judge, the jury, and the star of the 10-episode courtroom comedy series, which will welcome a variety of conflicts and characters to his courtroom—from small claims to big disputes and everything in between. Harvey plays by his own rules, basing his courtroom on his own life experiences and some good old common sense. The one-hour primetime unscripted comedy will premiere on the network in 2022, and casting is currently underway.
The Emmy® Award-winning unscripted series Shark Tank adds four new guest Sharks for its 13th season, premiering Friday, October 8, at 8 p.m. ET/PT on ABC. Emma Grede, CEO and co-founder of Good American and founding partner of SKIMS; Kevin Hart, actor, investor, and entrepreneur; Peter Jones, the sole remaining original Dragon on the BBC’s Dragons’ Den; and Nirav Tolia, co-founder of Nextdoor, will appear individually alongside veteran Sharks Mark Cuban, Barbara Corcoran, Lori Greiner, Robert Herjavec, Daymond John, and Kevin O’Leary in various episodes during the 2021-2022 season. Daniel Lubetzky, founder and executive chairman of KIND, also returns. Episodes can be viewed the next day on demand and on Hulu.
Celebrity Wheel of Fortune
Celebrity Wheel of Fortune puts a star-studded spin on America’s Game® when season two premieres on a new night, Sunday, September 26, at 8 p.m. ET/PT on ABC. Hosted by pop culture legends Pat Sajak and Vanna White, Celebrity Wheel of Fortune invites famous contestants to spin the world’s most famous Wheel and solve word puzzles for a chance to win up to $1 million. All of the money won goes to a charity of the celebrity’s choice. Jason Alexander, Tatyana Ali, Anthony Anderson, Tituss Burgess, Cheryl Burke, Brooke Burns, Lacey Chabert, Mario Cantone, Laverne Cox, Marcia Cross, Joey Fatone, Vivica A. Fox, Jeff Garlin, Anthony Michael Hall, Melissa Joan Hart, John Michael Higgins, Vanilla Ice, Tara Lipinski, Loni Love, Von Miller, Michael Mizanin, Wanya Morris, Jason Mraz, Haley Joel Osment, Donny Osmond, James Pickens Jr., Caroline Rhea, Andy Richter, Amber Riley, Tori Spelling, Shawn Stockman, Curtis Stone, Jodie Sweetin, Raven-Symoné, Karl-Anthony Towns, Michelle Trachtenberg, Nia Vardalos, Johnny Weir, and Ali Wentworth are competing in season two. Episodes of Celebrity Wheel of Fortune will be available the next day on demand and on Hulu.
The late George Segal, who played Albert “Pops” Solomon, passed away just before filming wrapped on season eight of The Goldbergs. Both Segal and his character will be memorialized in season nine, star and executive producer Wendi McLendon-Covey said. “Every time we open a season, it’s always a movie tribute, and I’ve got to hand it to our writers: We’re doing a movie tribute that actually takes us on a journey of where to spread Pops’ ashes,” the actress said. “It’s not only a traditional tribute, but hysterically funny, and you will cry your eyes out. Sean Giambrone [who stars as Adam F. Goldberg] and I could barely get through filming.”