Fox: 'In It to Win It' With Big Bets Like 'X Factor'
Net slates 4 comedies, 3 dramas, 1 unscripted show
By Melissa Grego -- Broadcasting & Cable, 5/23/2011 12:01:00 AM
THE X FACTOR: Simon Cowell returns to Fox in the singing competition for solo artists and groups that’s been a worldwide hit. Nicole Scherzinger and Steve Jones host, while Cowell reunites as a judge with former American Idol cohort Paula Abdul, along with Antonio “L.A.” Reid and Cheryl Cole. The winner gets a $5 million recording contract. From Cowell’s Syco Television and Idol producer FremantleMedia North America.
I HATE MY TEENAGE DAUGHTER (working title): Jaime Pressly and Katie Finneran star in a multi-camera comedy about two single moms struggling to raise difficult teen daughters who are growing up to be like the “mean girls” who terrorized them as kids. From Warner Bros. TV and Bonanza Productions.
NEW GIRL (working title): Zooey Deschanel stars in a single-camera sitsom as an offbeat girl who, after a bad breakup, moves in with three single guys. From 20th Century Fox Television and Chernin Entertainment.
ALLEN GREGORY: Actor Jonah Hill is creator, exec producer and leads the voice cast in an animated comedy about a pretentious 7-year-old about to switch from home-schooling to elementary school. From 20th Century Fox Television and Chernin Entertainment.
NAPOLEON DYNAMITE: Based on the film of the same name, this animated series follows the continuing adventures of America’s most awesome awkward teenager and his quirky family and friends. The original cast from the film—led by Jon Heder—will voice their characters in the series. From 20th Century Fox Television.
TERRA NOVA: Big-budget, epic family adventure involving time travel and dinosaurs from executive producers Steven Spielberg, Peter Chernin, René Echevarria and Brannon Braga. From 20th Century Fox Television, Chernin Entertainment, DreamWorks Television and Kapital Entertainment.
THE FINDER: From Bones creator Hart Hanson, a procedural Bones spinoff about an Iraq war veteran whose brain damage from an explosion transformed him from someone skilled at recovering people and things into an extraordinary “Finder.” From 20th Century Fox Television.
ALCATRAZ: From J.J. Abrams and Lost collaborator Elizabeth Sarnoff, this crime thriller is set at America’s most infamous prison. Midseason entry, set for Mondays at 9 p.m. From Bad Robot Productions, Warner Bros. Television and Bonanza Productions.
TOUCH: 24 star Kiefer Sutherland returns to Fox as a widower and single father of an autistic child with a special gift for seeing patterns and connections. From writer/creator Tim Kring (Heroes) and executive producers Peter Chernin and Katherine Pope. Filming to start in June; debut is not yet scheduled. From 20th Century Fox Television, Tailwind Productions and Chernin Entertainment.
Complete coverage of the 2011 upfronts
The Best and Worst of Upfronts 2011
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NBC: Greenblatt Wants To Find His New 'Voice'
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ESPN: Flexing Its Marketing Muscle
Upfront 2011 Marketplace: Wet Week Clears Way For Hot Ad Market
Click here to view the fall primetime schedule grid
Click here to watch preview clips and trailers from upcoming shows
STRATEGY: Hang onto demo dominance by doubling down on attentiongrabbing, signature shows like The X Factor (2.5 hours/week worth this fall), expensive epic Terra Nova and a spate of new comedies.
Fox has been tops in the adult 18-49 demo for seven seasons running—and network brass vowed at upfronts to keep placing big bets so as to not let that winning streak out of their sight. In his first upfront as head of ad sales, Toby Byrne last week fired up the figures exhibiting Fox’s dominance, then quickly promised: “We don’t take it for granted.”
To keep that pole position, Fox plans to build its fall primetime programming lineup around its much-hyped, new Simon Cowell-led talent competition The X Factor, which is being slotted in the Wednesday-Thursday time period pattern the network currently is using for American Idol. Fox Broadcasting Entertainment President Kevin Reilly repeatedly referred to The X Factor as the network’s “tent pole.”
X Factor got a huge push at the network’s presentation to advertisers, with a dramatic clip reel and a brimming-with-confidence Cowell, who proclaimed the first two days of shooting on X Factor were probably the best he’s ever done. He added, “We are definitely going to kick some ass.”
Fox also is betting big on the epic Steven Spielberg drama Terra Nova Mondays at 8 p.m. this fall, and is slating a round of new comedies in the new season. Reilly underlined Fox’s commitment to big programs, some of which take a little extra time to mount, announcing during the May 16 presentation at New York City’s Beacon Theatre that Fox animation powerhouse Seth McFarlane is working on a Flintstones revival aimed at a 2013 debut.
Fox scheduled four new comedies, three dramas and one unscripted series for the new season. “We think we have a very strong schedule for next year,” Peter Rice, chairman, entertainment, Fox Networks Group, said during a conference call with reporters.
However, the revitalization of comedy is key, Reilly said during the conference calls. “We’re trying to methodically work it in,” he said.
Fox is debuting two new live-action comedies this fall in plum time periods. New Girl, starring Zooey Deschanel, which got a warm reception at the Fox presentation, will follow Glee on Tuesdays. I Hate My Teenage Daughter (working title), starring Jaime Pressly and Katie Finneran, will get the Wednesday post-X Factor slot.
Fox also has slated a midseason test run of a fourcomedy block and will set that lineup after executives see how things “shake out” in development this summer and on the air this fall, Reilly said.
“It would be a very healthy thing for television to get that genre going again,” Reilly said. “I actually think we will this season.”
The rest of the fall schedule remains pretty stable. Allen Gregory, a new animated comedy from actor Jonah Hill, will join the Sunday animation lineup this fall. An animated Napoleon Dynamite steps into the block in midseason.
Bones will follow X Factor’s results show on Thursdays, and its spinoff The Finder will slot in come midseason while Bones star Emily Deschanel is on maternity leave. Fox is sticking with Kitchen Nightmares and Fringe on Fridays and will cycle Saturday’s long-running America’s Most Wanted down to quarterly, two-hour specials.
In midseason, American Idol will return for its 11th edition, with a special event following the NFC Championship game Sunday, Jan. 22. Fox will air a special celebrating the network’s 25th anniversary on Sunday, April 1.
E-mail comments to firstname.lastname@example.org and follow her on Twitter: @MelissaGrego
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