One of my favorite network executives is FOX’s Chairman of Entertainment, Kevin Reilly. He’s one of the few TV bosses who doesn’t treat what he’s doing like it’s curing cancer. He so fully understands that it’s all about entertainment that he’s even willing to poke fun at himself. After he tells TV Critics that everyone makes mistakes he adds “Just look at my fall schedule.”
He’s right. The FOX fall schedule was pretty lame. But, things are looking up for 2013 with the next edition of “American Idol” and the launch of one of the best new network TV shows to come along since “24” in “The Following.”
Here are a few of Reilly’s updates from the FOX session at the TV Critics Association winter tour.
A skeleton crew: The network has ordered a ninth season of the procedural drama “Bones.”
On the quality of network TV: Reilly says there’s a reason a film actor like Kevin Bacon comes to television to star in a show like “The Following” and its the “great work being done pound-for-pound on television.” Reilly adds, “The challenge in this day and age is, we are competing with television. And what I mean by that is we’ve always competed against the other broadcast networks. Every day we measure it. I like being first. But in the grand scheme of things, with TV right now, there are so many access points, so many different availabilities — the over the top services and the watching of our own product outside of the measurable window and the DVR stack and the binge viewing.”
Future fodder: Efforts to make a new version of “In Living Color” has been shelved. Reilly says the pilot episode that was shot just didn’t measure up to the standards of the original comedy series. The launch of another comedy series, “The Goodwin Games,” has been delayed. Reilly says that the comedy block the network has with “Ben and Kate,” “Raising Hope,” “The Mindy Project” and “The New Girl” has not been a resounding hit and a change right now would make matters worse.
A flying leap: Asked about whether the scheduling of a FOX special about celebrity diving was a way to kill interest in an upcoming reality series ABC will launch. Reilly would only say “It’s all fair.”
On the “Fringes”: The end of “Fringe” doesn’t mean an end to FOX looking at genre type programs for the network. He explains that “We’ve had some bad fall starts and broken some hearts. It was great to finally see one through and finish it in a great way for the fans and to not leave them hanging. But we’ve never left that business, and we always look for it. And, we set the standard many years ago with ‘The X Files.’”
FOX’s President of Entertainment, Kevin Reilly, got the network portion of the Television Critics Association summer tour to a positive start. The TV executive has every right to be positive as FOX has had ratings hits with shows like “American Idol” and “The X-Factor.” The network failed to make any waves in the drama category of the recent Emmy nominations. He wouldn’t say which new shows had the potential to change that next year but expects FOX to see more success with its dramas.
During his announcement that Mariah Carey would become a judge on “American Idol,” Reilly called the singer and put her on speaker. Carey said, “I am so excited to be doing ‘Idol.’ First of all, I wanted to be there today, and I wish I could have been there myself to tell you, but I think you know the show just sort of just happened quickly. So I can’t wait to get started in a couple months, and everybody have a great TCA, and I will see you in January.”
Here are a few other highlights from Reilly’s meeting with the TV critics:
On the upcoming season of “Glee”: “Now that I’ve read the first three scripts, I am very happy with how seamless it is. There’s going to be thematic links between the two. Although we have not severed relationships with anyone, obviously we’re not going to be servicing that large a tapestry of characters. We are adding some characters in New York. We’ve cast two guys already, one in New York, one in Ohio. We have fresh faces joining Ohio, so this is sort of the natural, almost a mirror of real life that people graduate and new faces come in. But I think also like real life, this is set in a small town in Ohio with very important and close relationships. Just as in real life, people tend to not stray too far away from that. Some people settle down in their hometowns. Some people go away, but they come back for holidays. They come back for reunions. And because we have a very good relationship with all the actors, some of whom have very vibrant careers now on the outside, the idea is to kind of keep that relationship where it can be fluid and for the audience in terms of who is going to show up when.”
On giving “Fringe” one final season: “I don’t like to just pull the plug on any show, because many of our failed shows, most of them have many, many millions of fans. But ‘Fringe’ has a particular fan base. We have a checkered history with genre at best because we’re one of the only networks that has consistently tried genre. Genre is hard. It’s been a really contemporary show for which most of the fans are there, but they’re there on their DVRs. I’m hoping this puts to bed the ‘ghost of Comic Con’ sentiment, if you will, which is, ‘Damn you, FOX. You put these shows on and then break our hearts.’ I think, at least hopefully, we’ve got a little bit of cred for seeing one through that really deserved it.”
On the affect of DVRs on ratings: “All of the top shows tend to shift in proportion. So what you’re seeing right now is the penetration of DVRs particularly, and the demo has now gotten around 50% and you’re watching people learn how to use them, and that’s the way they like to watch television. So we’re not fighting that.”
On Britney Spears joining “The X Factor”: “I think they’re going to be surprised at just how feisty she is. She is not afraid to lay it on the line. She’s tough. She knows what she’s doing. She’s been around, she’s seen it all, and she definitely lays it on the line.”
FOX has ordered a fifth and final 13-episode season of “Fringe” that will be broadcast during the 2012-2013 season. This is a big announcement as fans of the show were not certain if this year’s low ratings would end the run this season.
Also, knowing next year will be the last gives the creators the opportunity to write a proper ending.
The Fox series ends it fourth season with new Friday episodes starting 9 p.m. April 27 counting down to the two-part season finale on May 11.
TCA Winter Tour: Here are a few highlights from FOX’s President of Entertainment Kevin Reilly:
On the decision of whether or not “House” will end after this year: “I think we have just been avoiding it, to be honest with you. It’s hard to imagine the network without ‘House.’”
As to the future of “Terra Nova”: “I don’t know. We’ve done a good job of avoiding some of these big decisions until after the session. It was an exciting bet to take, and I think it’s proven that it was worthwhile. There were 14 new dramas on the network schedules this year. Most of them have come and gone. It’s the second-highest-rated drama. It is one of the highest-rated new shows of the season. There is a distinct audience that has stuck with that that enjoys it. You know, the perception of it kind of got away from us at a certain point. It was pretty obvious the bar was set enormously high.”
His expectations for “American Idol” this year: “My gut is, based on the way the shows are positioned right now, and the way ‘Idol’ is tracking, I expect ‘Idol’ will be down this season, but mostly due to the fact it’s going to be an 11 year old show. It’s going to be a natural life cycle for that show.”
“Fringe,” 9 p.m. KMPH (Channel 26.1): The evil twin TV gimmick has been used for years, but this series has given it a fresh look.
This season of the sci-fi program continues to deal with what happens after very competent and caring government agent Olivia Dunham (Anna Torv) ends up switching places with her more aggressive alternate from an alternate universe.
The twist is that the good Olivia is getting treatments to give her the memories of the other Olivia. I know it sounds complicated, but the storyline is addictive.
TV Note: In one of the strangest moves of the new TV season, the Fox Network has ordered a full season of the little-watched “Raising Hope.” I always thought there was no “Hope” for this show.
The future of the NBC series “Outlaw” doesn’t look as bright. Production of new episodes has been stopped and if the show doesn’t attract more viewers, it will be canceled.
It’s not too late for a Weekend Rewind, is it? I’m running a little behind today. Here’s my weekend. Tell everybody about your weekend adventures in the comments.
Stayed home and finally got caught up on the last few episodes of “Fringe” — and it’s gettin’ good. I’m not exactly a sci-fi fan, but this show definitely has me hooked.
Trekked down to the Visalia to catch the roller derby showdown between NoTown Roller Derby and the V-Town Derby Dames. Fresno smoked ‘em — 146-71. Of that 146, Fresno scored 105 in the second half. Daaaaamn.
“Bones,” 8 p.m. KMPH (Channel 26.1): The new season opens with Special Agent Seeley Booth (David Boreanaz) back on the job. He’s still feeling some of the residual effects of the coma that caused him to dream he was married to crime solving partner Dr. Temperance Brennan (Emily Deschanel). The crime part of the episode has some gapping holes. What makes this episode of “Bones” interesting is seeing how Booth deals with the feelings he has for Brennan. It is a sweet and clever way to keep the chemistry going between the pair.
“Fringe” 9 p.m. KMPH (Channel 26.1): I really expected a little more from this season opener after last season’s cliffhanger that presented the idea of a parallel universe. The “Fringe” episode doesn’t build off that dramatic moment but falls back on a typical life-and-death story. That being said, there is a change with one of the show’s main cast members that is so major the episode should not be missed.
Also tonight: The new season of “Survivor: Samoa” opens at 8 p.m. on KGPE (Channel 47.1). There are three season premieres and a series launch on KSEE (Channel 24.1) that includes “SNL Weekend Update Thursday” at 8 p.m., “Parks and Recreation” at 8:30 and “The Office” at 9 p.m. “Community” joins the NBC lineup at 9:30 p.m.