Fox: Taking Another Swing at Four-Comedy Tuesday

Network moves 'Glee,' hires Britney Spears and Demi Lovato for 'The X Factor'
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STRATEGY: Gunning for the four-show live-action comedy block he has long desired, Fox Entertainment president Kevin Reilly is pairing hopeful newcomers with fledgling hits and expects Glee to be back in tune with viewers, with a lead-in from The X Factor.

Fox was not discouraged by its unsuccessful go at a four-show, live-action comedy block on Tuesdays this midseason. In fact, the network is taking another shot at it, moving Glee to Thursdays to make way for its Tuesday-night comedy quartet swing this fall. Fox's new block will include this season's freshman hit New Girl, returning comedy Raising Hope and freshly ordered series The Mindy Project and Ben and Kate.

During the network's upfront presentation last week at the Beacon Theatre in New York City, Kevin Reilly, Fox president of entertainment, said what he has been saying for years: He's wanted to deliver "this kind of comedy lineup" since "I first walked in the door at Fox." Reilly added: "I think Fox finally has the goods." In a conference call with reporters, Reilly described both new comedies as "smart."

Raising Hope will lead off Tuesdays, followed at 8:30 by sibling comedy Ben and Kate, created by writer Dana Fox (What Happens in Vegas), whom Reilly said is part of the "Fempire" of distinctive women writers today. New Girl stays at 9 p.m.; it is being paired with The Mindy Project, starring the show's creator, Mindy Kaling (The Office), at 9:30 p.m.

Glee moves to Thursday at 9 p.m., where it will follow The X Factor results show this fall. Britney Spears and Demi Lovato showed up to the Fox upfront in person to confirm that they will be the two new judges for X Factor, joining returning judges L.A. Reid and Simon Cowell. The latter was more subdued with his predictions about the show than last year (remember 20 million viewers or bust?), but Cowell did forecast that "we are going to seriously kick butt this year" from onstage at the Beacon.

Reilly said he is confident that Glee, which waned in the ratings this season, will see a resurgence being "platformed" out of The X Factor. "Glee's poised for a real creative renaissance this year," Reilly said.

The network ordered three new comedies and two dramas for the 2012-13 TV season. With the two Tuesday comedies and one of the new dramas slated to debut this fall, one new comedy and one new drama will be held until midseason.

The new drama getting a fall launch is The Mob Doctor, headlined by Jordana Spiro-onetime star of the TBS comedy My Boys-in a decidedly dramatic role. It is set for Mondays at 9 p.m. with a Bones lead-in.

Reilly suggested that midseason drama The Following, starring Kevin Bacon, is "the next 24" and that Bacon's role represents the "casting coup" of the season. "It's not a Kevin Bacon-type, not six degrees of Kevin Bacon, but Kevin Bacon," said Reilly, who as some may recall was similarly effusive about New Girl star Zooey Deschanel joining the network last year. The Following is designed to run 15 weeks straight in the spring, with promotion out of NFL football as part of the network's strategy to experiment with shorter-order series that can "drive through the spring," when HUT levels dissipate, Reilly said.

The comedy Fox is hanging on to for midseason, The Goodwin Games, is something that "can slide easily" into the Tuesday block, Reilly said.

Five new scripted shows is a relatively small order for a typical broadcast network season, but Reilly said the crop size refl ects the strength of the schedule and the shows developed. "We had a number of calls on pilots that could have been top pilots in other years, but we decided we don't need to double down and have three backups," Reilly said. He is looking at "one or two" projects that could get shot out of cycle. On the animation side, Seth McFarlane's The Flintstones, which got pushed back due to other commitments, is still something Reilly hopes to see join the lineup during a future season.

Fox also highlighted its previously announced new Saturday lineup, featuring sports in primetime and experimental animated shows in late-night under the banner Animation Domination HD.

E-mail comments to mgrego@nbmedia.com and follow her on Twitter: @MelissaGrego

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