Fox has big shoes to fill -- its own

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Fox Entertainment president Gail Berman said the network has "just completed
our best development season in years," but only ratings will tell if Fox can
maintain the momentum it generated last year with monster hits Joe
Millionaire
and American Idol: Search for a Superstar.

Fox enters the 2003-04 season after having the best year in its history,
dominating in teens and adults 18-34 and finishing just behind NBC in the
all-important adults 18-49 demographic.

The wild card for Fox is Joe Millionaire II, airing Mondays at 8
p.m. this fall after baseball ends.

At the Television Critics Association summer press tour in Hollywood Thursday, Berman said Joe Millionare
II
will meet Fox’s expectations if it does half as well as the first one,
considering that the other broadcast networks may have drained enthusiasm for
the format with many Joe Millionaire copycats.

But because Joe Millionaire was the biggest success of the format, Fox
hopes it will maintain its audience, much as American Idol and
Survivor have done before it.

Fox will likely need very strong ratings from Joe Millionaire II if it
is to beat out the big three networks to win the season in adults 18-49.

Critics wondered whether Fox will keep American Juniors, a lower-rated
derivative of American Idol, on the schedule for fall.

Berman said while the network would love to see better ratings for the show,
it provides a good short-term fix for its time periods between baseball and
the launch of American Idol in January.

Four days after Fox premiered Japanese game-show spoof Banzai,
protesters from Japanese-American groups gathered outside the Renaissance
Hollywood Hotel to inform Fox that they take issue with the way the show
presents Japanese accents.

In response, Berman said Fox has retaped much of the narrative using Asian
actors and their real accents to make the dialogue as clear as possible while
being an accurate representation of the accent. Berman also said Fox stations
and the Fox network have gotten very little viewer mail regarding
Banzai.

Fox will premiere the third season of Emmy Award-nominated drama 24,
commercial-free and sponsored by Ford Motor Co., Tuesday, Oct. 28.

Fox is working with America Online Inc. on a co-marketing effort for The O.C., a
younger-skewing primetime soap the network is launching Tuesday, Aug. 5, prior to
the launch of the broadcast season. AOL will air music videos taped in
conjunction with the show and run them on AOL’s The O.C. Music
Showcase
.

The O.C. is produced by Warner Bros., sister company to AOL, both of
which are owned by AOL Time Warner Inc.

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