News Articles

FOX: Back to the drawing board—and drawing a lot

Five nights have one proven performer to build on 5/19/2002 08:00:00 PM Eastern

The plan

Fox's strategy for the new season is to add a whole bunch of new shows and hope some of them become successes. Just ask Sandy Grushow, chairman of Fox Television.

This is how he'd respond: "You always play to win. This is not about stopping the bleeding. The key to any one of these enterprises is try to put good shows on the air and hope that a bunch of them stick and hope that they become hits. If they do, then everything has a way of falling into place, and, if they don't, then life just gets a little more challenging."

It was certainly a challenging season for Fox this year as it lost buckets of young-demo viewers.

So, for next season, the network is pulling out all the stops to try to get back on track, committing to 11 new series, three of which will debut on Thursdays as late as January. The only schedule returning intact is Saturday night. The good news, says Grushow, is that the network has at least one proven performer to build around on five nights.

The network's challenges are compounded next season by the departure of two of its signature programs: The X-Files
and Ally McBeal.

"We had to make some aggressive moves to show some growth on our network next year," said Fox Entertainment President Gail Berman.

Complicating Fox's new-season roll-out plans is post-season baseball. But Berman sees that complication as an opportunity to "concentrate our assets" and promotion resources on launching four new nights prior to the World Series: Friday, Saturday, Tuesday and Wednesday. Monday and Sunday will debut right after baseball, and the new Thursday lineup will debut in December or January.

New for the fall

Sitcoms

Cedric the Entertainer Presents—
It's a variety half-hour hosted by the Cedric the Entertainer and filled with skits, dancing and other stuff. Matt Wickline, John Bowman, Stan Lathan and Cedric the Entertainer are executive producers. From 20th Century Fox Television.

The Grubbs—
Fourteen-year-old Mitch Grubb (Michael Cera) doesn't have much going for himself, but then neither does his father (Randy Quaid). Think Bart and Homer. Joshua Sternin, Jeffrey Ventimilia, Ann Johnson are executive producers. From Granada Entertainment and 20th Century Fox Television in association with Universal Television.

Oliver Beene—
Coming of age in the 1960s wasn't easy. The 11-year-old title character (Grant Rosenmeyer) tries to make the best of it. Howard Gewirtz and Steven Levitan are executive producers. From DreamWorks Television in association with 20th Century Fox.

Dramas

Fastlane—
Two cops (Peter Facinelli and Bill Bellamy) clean up Hollywood, with the help of their sexy female boss (Tiffani Thiessen). McG, John McNamara and Daniel Rappaport are executive producers. From Warner Bros. Television.

Firefly—
"Cowboys of the future" operate space freighter, have adventures. Executive producer and writer is Joss Whedon. From Mutant Enemy, in association with 20th Century Fox.

Girls Club—
Three attractive 27-year-old women (Gretchen Mol, Kathleen Robertson and Chyler Leigh) live together, practice law together. David E. Kelley is executive producer. From David E. Kelley Productions in association with 20th Century Fox Television.

John Doe—
Mysterious man (Dominic Purcell) turns up in Seattle knowing everything except who he is. Brandon Camp, Mike Thompson and Mimi Leder are executive producers. From Regency Television.

Ready for midseason

Sitcoms

The Pitts—
The unluckiest family in America (we are talking afflictions like demonic possession) still manages to keep on the sunny side of life. Mike Scully (The Simpsons) and Julie Thacker are executive producers. From 20th Century Fox Television.

Dramas

Septuplets—
Four boys and three girls turn 16 and turn their family-owned hotel in Southern California upside down. Kip Koenig, Dawn Parouse are executive producers. From 20th Century Fox Television.

Reality

30 Seconds to Fame—
Contestants have 30 seconds to show talent and why they deserve $25,000 prize. Michael Binkow and Joe Revello are executive producers. From Explorer Production Group.

Meet the Marks—
Ordinary people—two per half-hour—become unwitting "guest stars" on scripted domestic sitcoms. Vin Di Bona is executive producer. From Vin Di Bona Productions.

September
October