Dungey, makes history as the first African-American to lead a major broadcast network. She replaces outgoing president Paul Lee, who has helmed ABC programming since 2010 and pushed for more diversity at the network.
Dungey, who was instrumental in the development and success of hits like “Scandal,” “Criminal Minds,” “How To Get Away With Murder,” “Quantico,” “Army Wives” and “Once Upon A Time,” will succeed Paul Lee who decided to step down as president.
“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,” Disney-ABC Television Group chairman Ben Sherwood said in a statement.
Dungey was previously the executive vice president of Drama Development and Movies & Miniseries of the ABC Entertainment Group. She says she’s excited to start this new chapter in her career.
“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,” she said.
Current and former ABC executives, Hollywood agents and producers who know Channing Dungey were not surprised that the 46-year-old Sacramento native and UCLA graduate was selected to run ABC entertainment. Even Paul Lee, the executive being replaced by Dungey, had confidence in her abilities, promoting her into a senior position.
“Paul has always said, ‘When I leave, Channing will be the next president,’” said a network insider not authorized to discuss internal matters.
It helped that Dungey had developed a close working relationship with ABC’s prolific show creator, Shonda Rhimes, the force behind two of the network’s biggest hits, “Grey’s Anatomy” and “Scandal.”
Their strong connection goes back to the early days of “Grey’s Anatomy,” not long after Dungey was hired in 2004 by ABC parent Walt Disney Co.’s television production studio.
During the first season of the long-running medical drama, the network had issues with the direction of the show. Production was shut down to retool the program. Dungey was credited with helping Rhimes get the show back on track, and on its way to becoming one of TV’s most enduring hits.
There is no immediate replacement for Dungey as head of ABC’s drama department.
Last season, ABC made strong gains in the ratings but lost ground this year. ABC ranks third in total viewers, behind CBS and NBC, but this season the network slipped into fourth place among viewers aged 18 to 49, those whom advertisers pay a premium to reach.
Black Westchester salutes Channing Dungey.