Both Fox and ABC believe they will be in the best position of any network if actors and writers were to go on strike this summer.
In separate development presentations in Los Angeles with top advertisers, executives at both networks proclaimed their strike-proof programming plan as the best. "Regardless of a work stoppage, and we are going to remain optimistic that one can be avoided, Fox will be ready to go with more new scripted entertainment series than any of our competitors and with more original episodes of successful returning series than any of our competitors," says Sandy Grushow, Fox Television Entertainment Group's Chairman.
ABC Entertainment Group Co-chairman Stu Bloomberg told advertisers, "While we firmly believe a strike can be avoided, should one occur, ABC is by far the best prepared. In the unfortunate event that this happens, we will not have to rely on any repeat entertainment series at all."
Both sides actually presented strong cases, too. For the fall, Fox has the exclusive rights to all of Major League Baseball's post-season play, including the World Series. On top of that, Fox executives say they have 13 episodes of new drama When I Grow Up and 13 episodes of producer Judd Apatow's latest comedy Undeclared. Fox also has at least seven episodes of new comedies Greg The Bunny and The Tick, as well as 13 episodes of anthology series Nightvisions.
In terms of returning series, Fox executives vowed to have five episodes apiece of The Simpsons and King of The Hill, four That `70s Show and 21 yet-to-air episodes of Family Guy. Also in the hopper in case of a strike, another installment of Temptation Island, new reality project Love Cruise and over a dozen top theatrical releases.
As for ABC, they have Monday Night Football, original episodes of Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?, 39 episodes of Whose Line Is It Anyway?, the second installment of The Mole, new reality series The Runner, four miniseries and 146 theatrical titles, including the broadcast premieres of Saving Private Ryan and Sixth Sense.
A strike could hit Hollywood as early as May 1, when the Writers Guild of America's contract with the studios and networks is up. The Screen Actors Guild contract with the studios/networks comes due on June 30.
- Joe Schlosser