TCA: Reilly Says Fox 'May Not Win the Season This Year'
Entertainment chief predicts competitive season while detailing changes at 'American Idol,' 'X Factor'
By Andrea Morabito -- Broadcasting & Cable, 7/23/2012 4:01:33 PMComplete Coverage: TCA Summer Press Tour 2012
Los Angeles - In his executive session at the TCA summer press tour here Monday, Fox Entertainment president Kevin Reilly predicted a very competitive TV season and acknowledged that for the first time in eight seasons, Fox "may not win the season this year."
Part of that is certainly due to American Idol, whose ratings fell off about 25% last season and who Fox on Monday confirmed its plans to reinvigorate the franchise by adding Mariah Carey as a judge for season 12.
"Although we finished show at top once again... our ratings were down. Not being the only game in town now, we need to keep things fresh," Reilly said in a nod to X Factor and The Voice.
Reilly said the decision for Steven Tyler and Jennifer Lopez to depart Idol was mutual, and said he had no comment about whether Randy Jackson would remain for season 12. He did say that Jackson, who is Carey's co-manager, "was instrumental in doing this deal" to bring her to Idol and is "a very important part of that television show."
At the beginning of his session Reilly suggested the day be renamed Groundhog Day, a reference to the fact that he always seems to be fielding questions about the fate of Isol's judges, but acknowledged this would likely continue, if not every year.
"I think change is going to be part of the show going forward," he said. "We're 12 years old, I think we've got to keep it fresh."
And he defended the cost of that change in the form of pricey contracts for music stars like Lopez and Carey, saying bringing talent like that to the show is necessary to "generate a new dynamic" and sustain viewer interest.
Despite the increased competition on Idol from X Factor, Reilly said he'd still rather have Simon Cowell on his team than against him and said he expected X Factor "to be even stronger in season two" particularly praising the addition of Britney Spears to the judging panel.
"I think [the audience is] going to be surprised just how feisty she is," Reilly said.
Reilly also said "we're pretty close" to announcing the new host (or hosts) of X Factor, saying the news could come in the next week or two. Cowell has hinted he would like to have two hosts, as his U.K. version does, and Reilly says both possibilities are being considered.
As for Glee, who saw several main characters graduate at the end of season three, Reilly said each episode in the fourth season would be split between the remaining students at McKinley High and Ohio and those who have moved onto New York, a tactic that Reilly says so far has been working "seamlessly."
On the drama side, Reilly pledged support for sophomore Touch, saying creator Tim Kring has plans to make it easier for viewers to embrace the narrative. He also supports that series' limited run of 13 episodes, which Fox will again do in midseason with the Kevin Bacon thriller The Following.
"Next year I'd like to find the fall version of that with 13-15 episodes as well," he said.
Despite predicting stiff competition from its closest broadcast rival, CBS, Reilly said he "like[s] the way we're teed up this year" and even if it doesn't win the season, "at the very least it's going to be close."
We're aware of Mariah Carey signing on as judge for season 12 of American Idol. We have yet to find out if Randy will be returning. We're also awaiting word on a new judge or 2 joining the Idol panal.
Some have also suggested Fox ending Idol. I too feel that Idol has already over-stayed its welcome. Fox could focus more on The X-Factor and So You Think You Can Dance.
Eric - 7/23/2012 6:10:46 PM EDT
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