TCA: ABC picks up “Cougar Town,” “The Middle,” “Modern Family” for 2nd season

Stephen McPherson, president, ABC Entertainment Group, announced early pick-ups of hit Wednesday night comedies Cougar Town, The Middle and Modern Family for the 2010-2011 Season today at the Television Critics Association Winter Press Tour.

Cougar Town (Wednesdays, 9:30pm ET)

Courteney Cox, who was recently nominated for a Golden Globe for her role on the show, stars as Jules, a newly divorced single mother exploring the honest truths about dating and aging in our beauty and youth obsessed culture. While most women in their twenties go through life experiencing the challenges and often humorous pitfalls of meeting men, Jules took on the responsibilities of marriage and raising a son. Now in her forties, she embarks on a journey to self-discovery.

The second-most-watched new comedy on television this season, behind only Modern Family, ABC’s Cougar Town ranks No. 2 on Wednesday at 9:30 p.m. in Adults, Men and Women 18-34. The freshman comedy is also improving the time period year to year for ABC by wide margins across the key Men demos: M18-34 +50%, M18-49 +63% and M25-54 +43%. On its most-recent telecast (1/6/10), Cougar Town marked its highest viewer and young adult numbers in nearly two months.

Cougar Town stars Courteney Cox as Jules, Christa Miller as Ellie, Busy Philipps as Laurie, Dan Byrd as Travis, Josh Hopkins as Grayson, Ian Gomez as Andy and Brian Van Holt as Bobby.

Bill Lawrence (Scrubs, Spin City) serves as executive producer/writer/director, Kevin Biegel (Scrubs) as executive producer/writer, and Courteney Cox and David Arquette are executive producers. The series is produced by ABC Studios.

The Middle, Wednesdays, 8:30pm ET

Emmy-winner Patricia Heaton stars in this warm and witty single-camera comedy about raising a family and lowering your expectations.

Frankie Heck is a superhero. Well, no, not an actual superhero – not unless you count getting her kids out the door for school every morning as a superfeat. Middle-aged, middle class and living in the middle of the country, this harried wife and working mother of three uses her wry wit and sense of humor to try to get her family through each day intact. Frankie has a job selling cars at the town’s only surviving car dealer, while her husband, Mike, is a manager at the local quarry. In between juggling shifts and picking up fast food dinners eaten in front of the TV, Frankie and Mike raise their kids with love and solid Midwestern practicality.

Building on its lead-in Wednesday at 8:30 p.m. among viewers and young adults, The Middle is delivering solid year-to-year improvement to the time period for ABC. On average, The Middle is boosting ABC’s numbers in the half-hour over the same point last season by +1.2 million viewers and by +5% in Adults 18-49. On its most-recent telecast (1/6/10), The Middle hit series highs in key Adults (AD18-49/AD25-54), Men 18-49 and across all key Women demos (W18-34/W18-49/W25-54).

The Middle stars Patricia Heaton as Frankie, Neil Flynn as Mike, Charlie McDermott as Axl, Eden Sher as Sue, Atticus Shaffer as Brick and Chris Kattan as Bob.

Eileen Heisler and DeAnn Heline are the creators and executive producers of The Middle, which is a production of Warner Bros. Television.

Modern Family (Wednesdays, 9pm ET)

Today’s American families come in all shapes and sizes. The cookie cutter mold of man + wife + 2.5 kids is a thing of the past, as it becomes quickly apparent in the bird’s eye view of ABC’s half-hour comedy, Modern Family, which takes an honest and often hilarious look at the composition and complexity of family life today.

TV’s most-watched new comedy overall this season, ABC’s Modern Family is a strong competitor on Wednesday at 9:00 p.m. The ABC freshman comedy is a solid second in its half-hour to CBS’ veteran Criminal Minds in viewers and young adults, while ranking No. 1 with key Men (M18-34/M18-49). On its most-recent airing (1/6/10), Modern Family posted best-since-debut numbers in viewers and young adults, while hitting series-high ratings with key Men (M18-49/M25-54).

In its first season, Modern Family has already been honored with some of the industry’s most prestigious award nominations. Thus far the show has been nominated for a Golden Globe, Writers Guild, Directors Guild and Art Directors Guild awards, and the cast has received a SAG nomination for their performance. The series was also recognized by the AFI as one of the top 10 TV programs of 2010.

Modern Family stars Ed O’Neill as Jay, Julie Bowen as Claire, Ty Burrell as Phil, Sofía Vergara as Gloria, Jesse Tyler Ferguson as Mitchell, Eric Stonestreet as Cameron, Sarah Hyland as Haley, Nolan Gould as Luke, Ariel Winter as Alex and Rico Rodriguez as Manny.

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