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ABC renews Modern Family, Cougar Town and The Middle; Bachelor spinoff announced

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By GREG HERNANDEZ

ABC’s risky move of launching a Wednesday comedy block of all new shows has paid off with the network announcing Tuesday that it has renewed “Modern Family,” “Cougar Town” and “The Middle” for second seasons.

The announcement was made at the Television Critics Association press tour in Pasadena by Stephen McPherson, president of ABC Entertainment Group.

“It really creatively was a wonderful fall,” McPherson said. “I hear … anecdotal stuff about people watching as a family through the night.”

“Family” is the highest-rated new comedy of the season and has been finishing second in its time slot behind CBS’s ‘Criminal Minds.’ It has also been critically acclaimed and nominated for a host of awards including the Golden Globe for outstanding comedy and the Screen Actors Guild Award for outstanding comedy series ensemble.

‘Cougar Town’ stars Courtney Cox as a newly divorced single mother exploring the dating world and is the first comedy series since ‘Friends’ for its Golden Globe Award nominated star who is also an executive producer.

“The Middle” has been a far bigger success for Patricia Heaton than her previous sitcom “Back to You” which lasted one season on Fox. The former “Everybody Loves Raymond” star plays a harried wife and working mother of three kids living in the Midwest.

Not as positive have been the ratings for the comedies “Better off Ted” and “Scrubs.”

“I’m not going to lie,” McPherson said. “The numbers are not encouraging.”

He sounded more optimistic about the prospects for the struggling “Ugly Betty” which bombed in a Friday timeslot and been shifted to Wednesdays where initial ratings have not been good.

“We still really love that show,” he said. “I want to find the right place for it.”

McPherson also said he is looking forward to the returns on the ambitious fall dramas “Flash Forward” and “V” this spring, “Flash” will return in March while the return date for “V” is not completely nailed down. He said production issues is what curtailed the first part of the season for “V.”

On the reality front, it was announced that “Dancing With the Stars” will premiere its 10th season on March 22. McPherson said the show will be cutting back the number of contestants to about a dozen and acknowledged a troubled fall season where “we had some unlucky breaks in terms of people dropping out last time.”

The network also revealed that it will premiere a spinoff of “The Bachelor” in the summer called “Bachelor Pad.” It will call for 20 former contestants from “The Bachelor” and “The Bachelorette” to live together in a “Big Brother” type of house and compete in challenges.

Photos courtesy of ABC.

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